3 supportive roles of HR in operational excellence


Whenever we go to a concert, we know a lot about the singer. The history of the singer, when and where she/he started, the techniques, style and previous tracks, all and all are clear for us. Wait a minute, please! How about the band and the players? Do we know them as much as we know the singer?

You know, HR people are pretty much like the players. We don't see them unless we need to know about our payslip, insurance, promotion time, etc. But without them the show is absolutely off.

I love this short video from Jack Welch. He says that HR is as important as finance and truly, he cannot decide which one is the first.

The role of HR in operational excellence is vital. Without them we cannot succeed. Let's understand the remarkable situations that they can step in to pull up the company.

1. Change of business model

This change can be different. From business transformation, digitalization to supply chain, marketing, product management and many more. Usually, in these cases CEOs call only finance, sales and strategy people to come up with their solutions and roadmaps. They assume that all the changes should come from leaders who have direct impact on the business and others such as HR should be informed later just to follow and implement!

This is wrong!

When we change the business model, we architect it from the scratch. Without considering the role of people, how can we do that? We need to think about the organizational structure and the workflow. The only people who are expert in it are HR people. Let's involve them from the very beginning.

2. People agenda to create value

In OPEX (Operational Excellence) we study processes to understand how we can create value and also make things happen with minimum or now waste. Not all processes are automated to be managed by machines or computers. People are important there and their competencies matter!

We should know to leave what to be done for who. Not everyone is expert in defining competencies and understanding the roles and responsibilities. I have seen line managers fantasizing about their subordinates without understanding that such a person may not exist! Finding the right person with the closest competencies that we want is the job of HR. Providing that we engage HR in operational decisions from the beginning and not telling them what to do after we decided. In some cases I see HR as a doctor. We never tell a doctor what to do for us. We explain the problem and then we ask them for a solution. I suggest treating HR like this to create value in the organization.

3. Growth opportunities:

In all companies there are a certain number of employees who are problem solvers. They drive the company forward and their suggestions are pushing the business to grow.

These guys as others have clear job positions and clear roles and responsibilities but sometimes we need to ask them to join what we call TFT (Task Force Team) to solve a problem or to provide a solution for growth and then go back to their normal job.

In these cases, line managers do not know the entire company. They know others up to the level of their territory. In OPEX when we would like to implement new processes or procedures sometimes we need these temporary roles to join, to help and to leave after. Right?

HR when it comes to knowing people has a helicopter view across the company. They know or they should know who is good at what. Let's involve them. They matter a lot as Jack Welch says in the mentioned video. They are both pastors (in keeping secrets) and parent (in telling it straight).

If you are a leader in any level of your company, it is the time to call HR, meet them virtually or after the pandemic physically and invite them to a cup of coffee.