fbpx Skip to main content

Human Resources can be a bit confusing as a department – with each organization creating a different HR alignment or structure for how we get things done. Are you in Recruiting or Talent Acquisition? Do you deliver training in Learning and Development, Training or Organizational Development? Or maybe you do everything under the sun and are a “generalist” or “business partner.”

HR doesn’t translate well across different organizations, which makes it very difficult for employees and leaders outside of HR to understand what it is we do… or what your role, specifically is.

I remember after a large HR reorg into the “new transformational strategic structure” (ahem, centers of excellence), how many darn emails I got a day from employees asking me one thing: where or who do I go to for X?

To our team it was (mostly) clear – who does what, what department is responsible for certain activities and so on. I mean, we operated in silos – so if it wasn’t my responsibility, I kicked it over to the right expertise center or pointed them to a complicated org chart indicating where they could find help next. We’ve all been there, right?

And sure, the way other departments are organized are different at different companies – Finance and Marketing could be split a million different ways.

BUT, with HR being such a fluid “entity,” are we doing a good enough job aligning ourselves with the business in a meaningful way?

If we’re so worried about our own structure, how can we deliver results that the business needs? Or better asked, are we considering this when we look at how we align ourselves?

I recently saw a former client of mine, take a look at their org structure and decide to make some changes to bring the department into a more current structure and eliminate some inefficiencies. They started by… having a discussion with themselves. Then made a decision of where things could be streamlined and then implemented it.

No where in the reorg conversations did they ask the business what was lacking. Where HR had fallen short. Where they noticed gaps and areas for opportunities and strengths of the team. They didn’t evaluate why the current organizational structure was failing the business (and it was, greatly).

So they reorg’ed again and ended up with a (still) dysfunctional and inefficient HR team. They added absolutely zero value to the organization… which in turn, didn’t leave the HR organization much room to add strategic value on a daily basis. Did I mention they also invested more than $5 million in HR software upgrades at the same time?

We’ve all seen this happen. We’ve all walked into an organizational structure and furrowed our brows (I’m probably more guilty of this than most). We’ve all asked how the structure arrived at the place where it is. But we don’t feel empowered to say anything or question the CHRO on the how’s and why’s.

But here’s the thing: you will continue to fail as an HR partner, until the organizational structure of your team makes sense to the business. If it’s out of alignment with the business’s goals and needs, you will constantly have to figure out how to fill the gaps. So I urge you – if you can’t talk to your CHRO about the structure, talk to your business leaders.

Ask them where the gaps are, where the confusion is – then solve them on a micro level. You may not be able to change the entire HR organization’s structure, but you can make it easier for the people you directly support and be seen as the strategic HR partner you are.