Warren Heaps – Birches Group LLC
A few weeks ago on LinkedIn, Ravinder Bhan asked the following question:
“You have just joined a company with more than 15, 000 employees as a (Compensation & Benefits) manager. What are the first three things you would do to make a lasting impact at the organization?”
As soon as I noticed this question, I was compelled to answer it. Here is the answer I posted:
“This is truly an excellent question. For C&B to be an effective business partner and not just another run of the mill HR function, as you state above, it requires an immersion in the business.
To that end, here are my three things:
- Understand the business. Talk to the business leaders, their deputies and employees. Learn what the company does. Don’t just sit in corporate and get opinions from those at HQ – go into the field and see what happens there. If it’s a manufacturer, visit a factory. Spend time with the sales force, meet some customers. And if the company is global, and you are responsible for international as well, get on a plane and follow the same steps in the key operations overseas.
- Take inventory. Compile information about how the company manages C&B. Hold off on judgement – instead, focus on gathering information and getting a complete picture of what are the prevailing practices. Talk to managers about what’s working and what’s not. Learn the HRIS system and do some analysis yourself. Speak with the incumbent consultants to understand their role and their perspective about the company’s practices. Find an industry group of peers and get involved, and do some benchmarking.
- Formulate your strategy for impact. To do this, look for opportunities to make changes that will improve efficiency and eliminate bureaucracy; programs to empower managers to manage rewards, and hold them accountable to do so; initiatives to support globalization (if applicable); develop dashboard metrics for management to measure effectiveness of C&B programs; and finally, cost-saving steps, such as multi-national pooling of insurance and strategic relationships with providers.
Of course, the above is not a one-year plan — it would take two or three years to achieve. But there would surely be a lasting impact.”
There were other answers to the question, about 15 all together. I was flattered to be cited as the Best Answer (many of the other answers were excellent as well). If you want to, take a look at the whole Q&A on LinkedIn. But the timing coincided with the Olympic Games, so I sort of felt this is my gold medal. Those of you who know me, know for sure that there is no way I will ever get a real Olympic medal :-).
These days, there is so much being stated about how HR needs to “get a seat at the table” and “become an effective business partner,” I thought sharing this topic with our readers would be beneficial. In particular, I am keen to understand what your first three things would be if you were to find yourself in the situation described above?
Would you follow the same steps that I outlined? Why or why not? What else would you do? How would your actions be influenced by the culture of country where you operate?
Please tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment. I am very anxious to read some more “Best Answers!”
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