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Advice for SMEs: Independent’s Rob Ball explores 5 ways in which senior HR support can impact performance for small and medium sized businesses

For most small and medium sized companies, HR Director level guidance is considered out of reach, too costly or unnecessary, certainly on a full-time basis. HR support is often limited to ad hoc phone advice on disciplinaries, payroll or legal issues.  However, for businesses looking to consolidate or grow, the importance of HR Director level input, both operationally and strategically, can’t be underestimated.  By investing in senior HR expertise on an affordable, part-time basis small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from long term strategic advice in addition to regular operational support from highly experienced practitioners.  Read on to see how:

  1. Business performance – in tough economic times maximising the performance and contribution of everyone within the organisation is essential.  An experienced HRD with a proven track record can put strategies in place to engage and motivate staff to give of their best consistently.  Ensuring that employees identify with the business and its goals is fundamental, as well as measuring the business climate and providing opportunities for staff to voice concerns or suggest improvements.  People respond to leaders whom they trust, who trust them; to brands and values which matter; to companies which put people first, whether they are customers or employees.  By working closely with the Board, an HRD can help define the culture and values of an organisation and the appropriate, performance related behaviours that go with it.

  2. Leadership and team development – poor leaders and poorly performing teams will have a direct impact on business performance.  Experienced in leadership coaching and developing cohesive teams, HRDs work closely with management to enhance and embed the skills that drive teamwork, competition and ultimately improve productivity.

  3. Making change happen – all businesses go through periods of transition, whether as a result of turnaround, restructuring, redundancy or implementing new processes and systems.  Making sure these changes run smoothly with minimal conflict and maximum uptake takes planning and skill.  In the case of redundancies, rigorously following due process with clear communication and compassion is essential to success, even for those not directly affected.

  4. Talent and performance management – ensuring that employees are nurtured and their performance measured against specific criteria is vital if organisations are to remain productive and competitive.   An affiliated HR Director can take responsibility for progressing the most talented employees through the business, making training and development available where necessary and having a direct impact on the retention rates of key staff as a result.

  5. Reward and recognition – employee reward and recognition often takes a back seat when organisations are under pressure.  An experienced HRD can take ownership of this, recognising individuals and teams who are performing well, highlighting those who have made significant contributions or delivered beyond expectations.  This can provide a much needed boost to morale and encourage a healthy sense of competition.  It doesn’t need to be a drain on the business. Reward and recognition intelligently applied will have a high impact through considered and targeted investment.

Rob Ball is Managing Director of Independent’s HR Director Centre.