How many HR Managers Does it Take to Make a Strategic Decision?

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I recently worked with a client who couldn’t decide on whether or not to implement a company-wide employee referral program (ERP). Since the businesses couldn’t agree, they didn’t implement anything. Was that the right move?

The bigger the decision, the harder it is to make. That is why companies hire smart people to make smart decisions that affect the organization and its human capital. As Brian Tracy stated, “Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.”

So what goes into making the right decision?

Understand the problem and who is impacted. Some problems are much bigger than others. Determine if this issue needs input from other arms of the organization. Don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Involve the right stakeholders and get their view on the issue and feasible solutions. Nothing is worse than having HR make a blind decision, throw it over the fence, and have it blow up in their face for not including the stakeholders.

  • The example client was using a disparate program implemented in only a few businesses, with no clear direction for their employees. They wanted a centralized referral database in order to reduce agency firm fees, and a simple program they could promote accordingly.

Get the facts. Do your due diligence. Determine criteria that you can use in helping make your decision. Gather best practices and benchmark against competitors. Prove how the solution(s) can positively impact the bottom line, and/or save time and resources.

  • For this client, we calculated the ROI of implementing the ERP company-wide, and how the redirection of recruiters time spent on more valuable work was a no-brainer. They had already implemented an ATS which could automate the entire process, and they had internal statistics to prove that the program worked in a few of their businesses.

Make a decision. Once you have all the facts and have vetted the solutions to the right people, it’s time to choose and implement. Cautious experimentation can be very valuable. Consider test driving your solution as you can often make adjustments to tweak the process as you learn. With careful consideration for ramifications, you may also be able to revert your solution if proven more harmful than good. In any case, a strong change management plan and communicating the right expectations up front are critical.

Sounds pretty simple. So what stopped my client from pulling the trigger?

A Failure to Escalate! The buck always stops somewhere. As soon as the business stakeholders could not agree they should have escalated. If they would have brought the issue to the HR Executive team, they definitely would have made a decision based on all the facts along with the company business objectives.

If you are driving a corporate decision making process, be sure to establish points of escalation early in the process and don’t be afraid to use them.



Kathy Karneth

Kathy is an accomplished Project/Program Management Consultant who specializes in Human Capital Management and Information Technology. She has demonstrated ability to aggressively deliver global projects while achieving high levels of client satisfaction and endorsement from multi-cultural audiences. She builds strong cross-functional teams managing to strict deadlines and budgets. Understanding the uniqueness of every client, she utilizes the appropriate methodology to assess the current climate, develops a plan of attack, and then skillfully harmonizes the processes, policies and technologies that deliver effective talent management strategies. She has extensive experience in Management Consulting, Global Project Leadership, Program Management, Change Management, Strategic Integrated Talent Design, System Implementation, Training, Vendor Relationship Management, Technical Recruiting, and System Development.

Topics: Project Management, Change Management