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Mobilizing your HR team around HR strategy Changing the function from administrators to strategic partners can impact the bottom line. M uch has been written about human resources needing to be a strategic partner within a company and how the function can drive strate- gic activities that impact the bottom line. As most HR practitioners know, a transformation must occur within the organization to develop this partnership. The transformation must happen on two fronts – the first is that the HR function must mature to the point where it can be a strategic contribu- tor. Secondly, business leaders must shift how they perceive and utilize HR – changing their view of the function from that of administrators to key members of their leadership team who provide strategic value to the business and can impact the bottom line. Given the amount of change, these transformations can span multiple years and require concerted effort. It’s important to establish an overall vision and strategies that will help achieve the vision. This will create a roadmap to drive the change and set expectations for HR employees, as well as executive leadership. As AECOM grew through successful acquisitions and significant organic growth, our human resources leader- ship team identified opportunities to best serve our organization and contribute to the company’s success. Key to achieving this was having a clear direction and plan to mature our function and drive a shift in how our business leaders leverage HR to recruit, retain, develop and engage our

talent. We developed a roadmap that set out the HR vision and key strate- gies and addressed how we would transform our function while taking into account industry trends that could impact our business in the

had agreed, along with a common set of talking points to present to busi- ness leaders on our overall vision and strategy. The team also had summary implementation plans and initial bud- gets for the initiatives we agreed upon for the upcoming fiscal year. Given the investment needed to bring these resources together, it was critical that we identify tangible outcomes and hold the HR team ac- countable to meeting them. To “pres- sure test” our outcomes, we invited a handful of business executives to a session on the last day of the meet- ing, where we presented our summary implementation plans and obtained their feedback. Today, the roadmap is central to everything we do and is woven into all of our communications to our employ- ees. We have also implemented metrics to measure our ongoing progress and it’s clear we have made great move- ment toward being a true strategic partner with our business. And while we celebrate our achievements, we also continually adjust the roadmap based on changing industry trends and busi- ness needs. Our roadmap positions HR to identify shifts in key trends and pro- actively develop strategies to address these shifts and minimize impacts to our business. A clear vision and strate- gies that support the realization of the vision are keys to the success of any business or function. However, this is the first step in the process. For any long-term vision, it’s equally critical to share the vision and key strategies with executives and stakeholders to ensure they are in agreement and will serve as sponsors. Engaging and mobi- lizing resources around the vision and strategies, and continuing to reinforce key messages in everything you do, is critical to ensure that resources remain focused on driving change. Finally, remaining agile and shifting strategies as industry trends and business needs change are a necessity to achieve the vision.

Annissa Deshpande

future. This was tied to our company’s vision and strategies and focused on four major areas: employee and future leader development; efficient deploy- ment of people resources; knowledge sharing across the organization; and contributions to the company’s bottom line. For each area, we cre- ated a goal statement, objectives, and enterprise-wide initiatives for the next fiscal year, as well as key areas of focus for subsequent years. Once the roadmap was completed, the real work began. The roadmap needed to be socialized and the re- sources needed to support it had to be engaged and mobilized. To accomplish this, we brought together global HR leadership in a three-day working ses- sion designed to evaluate and priori- tize initiatives and produce implemen- tation plans and budget estimates. At the kick-off of our session, we ensured that we reinforced HR’s vi- sion and the company’s overall vi- sion. One of our key senior executives discussed the company’s overall vision and reinforced our corporate purpose as a way to ensure that the HR team remained focused on AECOM’s big picture. It was also an effective way to demonstrate to HR leaders that senior executives at the highest levels of the organization supported our overall HR strategy. As we prioritized initiatives at the meeting, we also had frank discussions and healthy debates about potential obstacles we could face in funding and implementing the initiatives, given the business opportunities and challenges in various parts of our organization. At the end of the discussion, the team had a common set of initiatives, prioritized by year, to which everyone

Annissa Deshpande is director of HR Strategy and Programs at AECOM .

A clear vision and strategies that support the realization of the vision is key to the success of any business or function. However, this is the first step in the process.


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