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My Opinion: It’s About the Process

Discussing workforce planning with an HR professional of a government entity in Singapore we explained our approach that starts from customer and strategy, goes via processes and concludes in workforce needs, in short. The answer I got from my client was “Why do you look into operations in order to do workforce planning. We want to do this without dealing too much with processes.”

I was surprised to get this reaction from an HR professional.

Not looking into processes whilst planning the workforce for the next couple of years reveals some very risky assumptions.

Firstly, you assume that everyone who is busy is really adding value or – in other words – is busy doing the right things. Is this really fair? Ask yourself: how many subordinates have ever asked you for more work because they were not busy? Not too many I guess. Being busy is seen as being productive – although it has nothing to do with this. To the contrary: if you can do your job in less time, you are more productive.

Additionally, you think that jobs will not be changed, enriched, redesigned based on new technology or new ways of doing things. You suggest that customers basically have the same requirements over time. And you assume that improvements or innovations will not be possible nor necessary in your processes.

The worst however is, you suppose that HR does not need to know about what the workforce does.

In my opinion, HR professionals can add much more value to an organisation by going beyond the traditional HR responsibilities. HR can only be seen as a partner for the leadership team if HR understands the business and basic methods for business management and improvement.

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Uwe H Kaufmann

Dr Uwe H Kaufmann is the founder of Centre for Organisational Effectiveness (COE Pte Ltd), a business advisory firm operating out of Singapore. As consultant and coach with many years of experience, his passion lies in supporting organisations to improve their effectiveness.
Uwe is a German national and Permanent Resident of Singapore. He has four children and nine grandchildren … and counting.

  • Nidhi
    11:31 AM, December 2010

    That’s a very astute observation – the less time you spend at work, the more productive you are.
    However, most managers prefer to take the easy way out and assume that late night e-mails are equivalent to hard work, sincerity, commitment, involvement, et al, and end up encouraging their team to put in extra, and many times, unnecessary hours.
    HR has typically restricted their roles to the paper work for year end evaluations and communication on increments and bonuses. In order to make any real differences to the team it is imperative that they get their hands dirty and understand the processes, and come up with suggestions that not only result in better processes, but also better working hours for the team. Initially, it would probably meet with a lot of resistance from the team, and may even be seen as a nuisance, but hopefully the results will speak for themselves. It will also add transparency and a third party view to the employee – manager equation.

  • Josephine Ho
    12:10 PM, November 2010

    For HR to add value to business, we need to look beyond HR at the upstream processes where the business starts. To do this, HR needs to have an understanding of the business by reenginnering the processes with the key personnel who control the upstream processes.

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