Is there a correlation between HR and process improvement? You bet there is! Improving processes throughout HR – or if you prefer, Talent Management – is the key to unlocking your organization’s full potential.
Process bottlenecks, missed deadlines, budget blow-outs and communication breakdowns are systematic to every business.
We’ve all experienced finger-pointing, tirades from exasperated leaders, cutting or adding staff as knee-jerk reactions to solve problems.
These dynamics are not only exhausting; they’re inefficient. Fortunately, at RTG Solutions Group, we know the path to organizational efficiency. And it can begin right in your Human Resources department!
As a business leader, you probably recognize that processes across the organization could be more efficient. Yet, how do you actually hit the pause button to find a better way to do things?
It’s not just about working harder and faster. It’s about working efficiently. This is where continuous improvement efforts come in.
Implementing continuous improvement practices is a culture shift within a business. It’s not like flipping on a light switch and everything is immediately streamlined.
It requires sustained effort. Yet, it produces lasting results.
Fortunately, it can be accomplished by any business in any industry. And HR process improvement can serve as the catalyst for a greater culture shift within an organization.
WHAT IS CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT CULTURE?
Continuous improvement is a constant, ongoing effort to improve business operations, performance, and efficiency.
In order for it to work, it must permeate across an organization. It cannot remain quartered in just one or a few supporting departments. In other words, it must be part of your company’s culture.
We know what you’re thinking: What in the world does this have to do with my company’s HR department?
To find out how HR can enhance your organization’s performance and promote a culture of continuous improvement, keep scrolling!
REACH NEW HEIGHTS WITH HR PROCESS IMPROVEMENT
HR management is an ideal fit to lead the way and sustain efficient practices across the organization. But why does it make sense to start with HR process improvement to launch the culture change?
HR is the hub of an organization’s greatest asset: its people. The Human Resources department is connected to each person who enters and leaves an organization.
HR staff are the first to welcome each new employee. They serve as a conduit throughout each employee’s career with the organization.
Based on their centrality within the organization, the HR team exhibits and reinforces the company culture each and every day.
The role of HR in an organization includes numerous processes that are repeatedly accomplished every day.
With a nexus to every employee, HR roles can include: recruiting, interviewing, onboarding, off-boarding, training & development, performance management, benefits, payroll, employee relations, and communications.
In other words, an organization’s HR department serves as the primary executor, conduit, and communicator of company culture. This position is what makes HR the ideal launchpad for a company-wide culture change.
What better way to begin your organization’s improvement journey and culture transformation than with your HR team?
So, we’ve highlighted that HR can lead the way to a culture of continuous improvement. But how do you actually tackle HR process improvement efforts? Simple – you make use of these four tools:
- Process mapping
- Affinity Diagrams
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Strategic communications
FOUR TOOLS FOR HR PROCESS IMPROVEMENT
Each process within the HR department, large and small, must be mapped to visually outline the “current state” of the process.
You cannot begin to improve upon a process until you fully understand what is currently happening. Additionally, in order to measure improvement changes, you must have a baseline to measure by.
Swim lane diagrams are used to gather a baseline measurement of current processes. The swim lane diagrams illustrate business processes as they move within and outside of a department. They also capture the time associated with each process step.
Often, redundant or unnecessary steps are quickly uncovered. This visual representation highlights cross-functional responsibilities and processes within a business unit.
An Affinity Diagram is a type of brainstorming tool used to organize ideas into subgroups with common relationships.
Each person in the group identifies thoughts or ideas around a pre-determined question. The approach can help a group make connections between common ideas that may otherwise seem overwhelming to discuss.
For example, an HR team early in their improvement journey can meet up to identify a key problem or issue within the department. The Affinity Diagram exercise begins with each participant jotting down individual ideas on sticky notes and randomly placing them on a wall for everyone to see.
Then, in a round-robin timed sequence, each participant groups together similar ideas by physically rearranging the sticky notes on the wall. The result is a cohesive identification of issues that then can be addressed thoroughly.
The Affinity Diagram exercise is not just a great way to quickly generate a collection of HR process improvement ideas. It is also a fantastic tool for leaders hoping to create buy-in to new initiatives or policies.
Because the exercise requires you to bring your team together, it gives employees the opportunity to be included in the improvement effort while it’s still in the early stages.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
SOPs are step-by-step instructions that document a routine activity critical to the function of a department. Well-written SOPs provide consistency and reduce error.
Here are some examples of processes that would require SOPs, in the context of HR process improvement:
- Employee onboarding
- Workforce planning
- Interviewing and orientation
- Performance management
- Budget planning
- Assignment of merit increases
- Employee relations involving corrective action policy, documentation, coaching and termination
- Allocation of benefits
- Workman’s compensation filing and documentation
- Off-boarding, involving both voluntary and involuntary separation from the company.
Each HR department develops SOPs unique to their organization based on processes outlined in the Process Mapping segment.
The goal is to have clear processes documented that can be updated as needed in a systematic way to maximize version control.
In other words, don’t print off an SOP and then stick it in a file drawer, never to see the light of day. When updates are needed, update the main version so the updates are always current and accessible to everyone.
Establishing internal communication protocols will create a framework for success. Internal communications strategies ensure that there is appropriate, methodical communication within and across departments.
As part of the RTG Management System, we help organizations develop vertical and cross-functional communications pathways.
Vertical communication protocols ensure that information flows up and down the chain of command smoothly and efficiently. Vertical communications frameworks can target individual departments or the organization as a whole.
Meanwhile, cross-functional communications allow information to transcend across workstreams and departments. This fosters a collaborative environment and breaks down silos.
There are many benefits to establishing vertical and cross-functional communications frameworks.
First, team members at every level will always be “in the know,” and they’ll have the ability to freely exchange information. In addition, as issues arise within work teams, the communication protocols present the opportunity to escalate daily to the next level in the department or organization.
Three strategic communications tools that we employ in the RTG Management System are the Leader Standard of Work, Visual Control Board, and One-on-One Meetings.
Leader Standard Work (LSW): The Leader Standard Work (LSW), in a single page, outlines daily, weekly and monthly tasks for each team member. The use of the LSW for each team member provides consistency for their position and tracking for daily escalations and weekly meetings.
Visual Control Board: The Visual Control Board provides a visual representation of current projects within a department or team. It shows project status, task due dates, and individual accountability.
Every day, the team huddles in front of the board at a specified time to review the information. This also provides an opportunity to discuss any needs in accomplishing tasks and meeting a deadline.
The visual control board is the communications opportunity to escalate information to the next level of management.
One-on-One (O3) Meetings: One-on-One (O3) Meetings are weekly, half-hour meetings between a supervisor and their direct report. Everyone, at every level within an organization, should have an O3 meeting. The structured meeting is organized in three parts.
In the first 10 minutes, the discussion is usually non-work-related dialogue about personal news. You cover questions like “How are the kids doing?” “Have you picked up any new hobbies?” and “Got any upcoming travel plans?”
In the second 10 minutes, the direct report highlights updates on their Leader Standard Work and makes requests for assistance to meet a project or task deadline.
In the final 10 minutes, the manager shares any information related to the department, organization or upcoming projects.
It is important that both the manager and direct reports adhere to O3 meeting structure and timeline limits. In addition, the meeting should be viewed with great importance and held routinely at the same time and day of the week.
It should only be rescheduled for urgent matters, not because one party is just too busy to meet. Once a cadence is established, the O3 becomes a useful and efficient communications tool and practice.
When implemented in your HR department, these strategic communication practices can improve information-sharing, reduce communication bottlenecks, and maximize efficiency.
It’s never too late (or too early!) to implement a continuous improvement culture in your organization.
An organization’s efficiency journey can kick-off with any department. However, at RTG Solutions Group, we’ve learned that Human Resources is an especially strong starting point for a process improvement efficiency overhaul.
If your organization needs HR process improvement ideas, process mapping, Affinity Diagrams, SOPs, and strategic communications are the way to go.
Interested in learning more about how to implement continuous improvement practices in HR and beyond? Contact us today! Our experts will help your organization unlock its full potential.