How effective are HR practice groups in tackling specific workplace priorities?

Cross-functional teams can lead to improved collaboration and more effective sharing of best practices

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Creating HR practice groups can be an effective way to tackle specific and cross-functional HR priorities. It involves grouping employees with similar expertise and responsibilities together for a more superior approach to resolving HR challenges. These groups can help prioritise a lot of responsibilities such as talent management, employee engagement, compensation and benefits or compliance.

ADVANTAGES

Such special practice groups come with a lot of benefits.

Collaboration & engagement: “The top-most advantage of having such groups is the cross-functionality that leads to increased collaboration in the organisation,” says Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy. Cross-functional HR practice groups can bring employees from different departments and functional areas together to collaborate and share best practices. It creates more engagement and people help each other overcome every challenge.

“Involving employees in strategy execution is crucial for successful strategy formation. Failure to involve key people often results in implementation failure.”

Anil Mohanty, head of people and culture, Medikabazaar

Focus & success: “By grouping employees with similar expertise and responsibilities together, HR practice groups can provide a more focused approach to addressing specific HR challenges,” opines Anil Mohanty, head of people and culture, Medikabazaar. Check spelling. This allows for greater depth of knowledge and skill in a particular area.

For instance, a specialised team or task force is required for the task of policy making in an organisation. Such a team drafts the policies, brainstorms on it, and even runs it through the employees to get a better and realistic feedback. With so much of effort and expertise involved, the task is likely to be successful.

Fast decision-making: By centralising resources and expertise, HR practice groups can improve the efficiency of HR processes and decision-making. The leaders managing the cross-functional teams are generally subject matter experts or SMEs. Their involvement leads to better decisions that are more aligned with the organisation’s overall goals. Therefore, the decision-making will be fast and more efficient.

Creativity & innovation: Creating such task forces is a part of design thinking. It’s a mixed team of impacted people who join together to improve the given task to the best of their abilities. “One derives inspiration from people who are most impacted,” says Vivek Tripathi, VP-HR, NewGen Software. Those impacted are the best ones to suggest the next step.

As Mohanty rightly states, “Involving employees in strategy execution is crucial for successful strategy formation. Failure to involve key people often results in implementation failure.”

Pandey opines that creating such groups not only delivers results but also brings a lot of creativity and innovation into the organisation, because the group or team members “are very much involved and immersed in performing the tasks at hand effectively.”

“Efforts are more streamlined and the strategies made are customised to people’s needs. Since they’re cross-functional, they help the new talent with the entry-level support but ensure they survive by giving them a better understanding of the organisation as a whole.”

Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy

Mohanty agrees and points out that “a single mind working at a task cannot be 100 per cent efficient or successful”. Different minds and perspectives are required, and all the possibilities need to be tried to perform the same task. That is what such teams bring to the table.

Members of such teams are very much detail-oriented and bring a lot of synergy with them. This creates an environment of learning, where knowledge is shared with one another.

Creating such task forces is a part of design thinking. It’s a mixed team of impacted people who join together to improve the given task to the best of their abilities. One derives inspiration from people who are most impacted as they are the best ones to suggest the next step.”

Vivek Tripathi, VP-HR, NewGen Software

“Efforts are more streamlined and the strategies made are customised to people’s needs,” says Pandey. Since they’re cross-functional, they help the new talent with the entry-level support but ensure they survive by giving them a better understanding of the organisation as a whole.

Additionally, the cross-functionality help them collaborate and share best practices to address broader HR priorities, such as organisational development and culture.

CHALLENGES

Creating HR practice groups to tackle specific and cross-functional HR priorities can be beneficial, but there are also potential challenges that should be considered to make these cross-functional teams effective.

Leadership: The foremost challenge in putting together such teams is bringing in the right leadership for them. “Strong leadership and management are essential to the success of HR practice groups,” says Pandey. It’s their responsibility to keep people engaged and motivated. Without strong leadership, the groups may lack direction and struggle to achieve their goals.

Tripathi opines that certain groups may also develop an over-ruling attitude. They may reject even factual insights saying they are out of context. Hence, it’s necessary to have effective leadership and management to evaluate and guide them.

Mohanty agrees, adding, “There should not be ownership, but clear leadership to help these groups understand each other and work collaboratively.” They must feel included and their ideas or opinions must be respected.

Clarity of goals: “A clear objective is another important part of creating such teams,” opines Pandey. Without clear goals and objectives, people may feel lost. There must be answers to the ‘why’s.

Bigger picture: Tripathi feels that it is important for the groups to set their sights towards their long-term goals. Sometimes, the group may develop short-sightedness which may negate the very purpose for which the organisation needed the group. Hence it’s important to guide them to look at the bigger picture.

Evaluation: Unless these special HR teams are regularly evaluated, their effectiveness cannot be ensured. Feedback should be gathered regularly to assess their effectiveness and make adjustments as needed. This will also help organisations work more efficiently with their limited resources.

Tripathi shares a real-time instance, “When we create a learning track, along with the growth prospect, we also tell people what learning is required to achieve that growth in the organisation. We don’t want to miss on the aspiration part. Rather, we take inspiration from those impacted”.

Recognition: Recognition is another important perspective to consider when creating such teams. The members come together to perform jobs that are beyond their described job roles. They are investing their valuable time. Hence, it’s important to give them timely recognition for their efforts or else there could be resistance to change or even demotivation.

Creating HR practice groups to tackle specific and cross-functional HR priorities can be a sustainable approach, but it all depends on the organisation’s ability to maintain the structure and resources necessary for its success.

For instance, in a startup, such teams may not work as the HR doesn’t have full control of them. Since they’re just starting up, attention is given more to revenue generation. However, in big conglomerates, where there are multiple verticals and divisions, such teams can be implemented to great advantage.

According to Mohanty, “HR has more control in big organisations and it’s easier to evaluate employees who are performing well and the ones who need more attention”.

Tripathi also agrees that in big conglomerates, there is more scope.  Learning tracks are created for technical employees. Valuable feedback can be obtained from them to learn whether they benefitted and how much they benefitted, and whether improvements are required. Such core teams can take suggestions from the impacted people and ensure easier and more effective implementation.

Strong leadership combined with impactful resources, and the flexibility to adapt the strategies needed to align with the changing priorities and goals of the organisation, can make these groups more sustainable and successful in the long run

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