'Your First 100 Days' | How senior HR can succeed in new roles

How senior HR can succeed in new roles

Even the most seasoned HR professionals will have some trepidations when taking on a new position.

Which is why BPS has broken down the initial orientation into broad, manageable chunks.

Your First 100 Days – HR Edition’ is the how-to guide for senior HR leaders eager to make their mark.

Asking the right questions. Identifying people of influence. And getting under the bonnet of an organisation will be crucial in this early phase.
Naturally, every remit will contain its own nuance and complexity. The intention here is not to drown you in exhaustive text and theory or attempt to cover every possible outcome.

Instead, the guide contains actionable steps to follow, while affording you the much-needed freedom to ‘figure it out’ yourself. The hope is that these foundational building blocks will help you craft your initial strategy and successfully execute.

Here are the 5 key steps on your journey:

  • Establishing presence.

  • Reviewing your landscape.

  • Dealing with today, building for tomorrow.

  • Communicating change, fuelling growth.

  • A timeline for success.

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 HR recruitment is booming

The market for HR talent is booming. According to data from Honch.io, 8,240 UK HR decision-makers were appointed in H1 2021.

Meanwhile, 2,722 execs were promoted to new decision-making remits. And March, April, May and June witnessed consistent hiring levels above 1,500 per month.

It’s a well-worn cliché that HR has longed for a ‘seat at the table’.

And if it wasn’t already the case, the times we’re living in represent an opportunity for HR to more than earn that right.

The people function has always been crucial to delivering business success.

However, leading the charge is not without its challenges amidst a complex and ever-evolving landscape.

Ultimately, those that will succeed will be strategists, do-ers who know when to delegate and expert communicators that can demonstrate business impact.

For those embarking upon new chapters, there’s an exciting journey ahead.

Establishing presence

A senior HR leader’s remit and involvement with the wider business goes beyond the HR function itself.

Therefore, it’s essential to identify the right people and start building strong relationships from the outset.

It goes without saying that the Chief Executive Officer will be a key stakeholder. However, the Chief Operations Officer, Chief Finance Officer and the Chief Technology Officer will be other key allies as you develop your HR function and workforce strategies.

‘Your First 100 Days’ covers the seats of influence in more detail, and outlines the key questions to ask of your own HR team.

Reviewing your landscape

Hunt, gather and don’t be afraid to ask the same recurring questions! Any HR leader operating at board level will need to understand the key fundamentals. Questions to ask include:

  • How does the business make money? Where are the challenges?

  • What’s our unique competitive advantage?

  • What are the current market conditions? Are they likely to change soon?

  • What do people value about the organisation? What don’t they like?

  • What is the pre-existing perception of HR?

  • How do we stack-up to the competition on product/service, pay, benefits and training and development?

Tailoring your approach by constructing a mixture of 1:1 interviews and employee focus groups will help you gather the information you need. And create an environment where colleagues feel comfortable.

Dealing with today, building for tomorrow

Armed with information, it’s time to throw yourself into quick wins and strategy development.

Dealing with today’s ‘fires’ will help establish your credibility and provide valuable learnings into how your HR team currently functions.

Meanwhile, this stage is also vital for outlining your HR function and workforce strategies.

Workforce strategy

The people requirements of the business strategy. Or to put it another way, how HR supports business success and ensures customer satisfaction. This is achieved by having the right people in post, performing to the best of their ability.

There are many components that make up a workforce strategy. But these should not exist in isolation. Creating a successful workforce strategy requires a joined-up approach to driving positive business outcomes. It’s underpinned through the effective use of People – Process -Technology and includes Reward and Learning and Development.

HR function strategy

This defines the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ HR will deliver. It should list priorities, roles, responsibilities, and detailed deliverables. Use your learnings from the assessment stage to guide you and check back in with stakeholders to gauge whether you’re on-point. The function strategy is where you translate a plan into action. It should address short, medium, and long-term priorities (fixing things that are broken/immediate risk concerns, addressing capability gaps and strategic alignment with management initiatives).

Communicating change, fuelling growth

Being a business change agent requires a robust communication strategy that is tailored towards different audiences and their needs.
It’s also important to recognise that enacting change cannot be a solo activity.

Senior HR leaders need to promote other departmental allies and empower and educate their HR colleagues.

Sell the value of bonding and networking to the rest of your team. Encourage your HR colleagues to form strategic alliances with their cohorts in Marketing, Finance etc.

And give everyone a stake in success. Securing active buy-in for HR initiatives will enable you to transfer ownership to other senior leaders and their teams. Thereby affording them their own responsibility for activation, results, and success.

Over to you…

This summary only scratches the surface. Get the guide and keep checking back as this is a live document. We'll continue to feed in the latest guidance and testimonials from senior HR leaders who've been in exactly your position.

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