7 Top tips every Strategic HR Director should know

As a strategic HR Director you have the potential to shape a ‘people agenda’ that impacts every part of your organisation. Having impact and influence is critical, so if you want to be taken seriously as a strategic HRD, then here are my 7 top tips:


  1. Business agenda first – This is essential – first and foremost understand the business: its market, its strategy, its performance, its opportunities and its challenges. Getting close to this is also a great opportunity to build relationships with key stakeholders and position yourself as a key strategic player.
  2. Get close to your MD – understand their challenges and drivers. Get clear about what they want from you and what they need from you – these may be two different things so don’t be afraid to challenge! Deliver, and make your value felt and visible.
  3. Align your People Plan with the Business Strategy – this sounds obvious, but make it explicit – how and where does it align. There should be nothing in your plan just because it’s good practice – if there’s no business benefit, or it’s not meeting a business need – why are you doing it?
  4. Make time for Strategy – often easier said then done when there are so many priorities. Take time out every week for strategic thinking – yes, every week! – even if it’s on your drive to work – step back and think about the bigger picture. Plan half or full day sessions for strategic planning – involve your team and key stakeholders. Remember nothing happens without buy-in from the employees, so you need to know what they feel about their work. This is where a tool like WeThrive really helps, showing you the opportunities to improve employee engagement and motivation.
  5. Wear an MD hat, not just an HRD hat – Contribute across the whole business agenda, not just the people agenda. You don’t need in depth knowledge and expertise to ask useful and challenging questions at a board meeting that will add value – even if you need to preface it with ‘this might be a stupid question, but…’
  6. Coach and build a coaching culture – Coaching skills will serve you incredibly well, especially in 1, 2 and 5 above and 7 below. There are great accredited programmes around rather than doing a full qualification, although I’d recommend a coaching qualification if you want to maximise your skills. It takes time and investment to build a coaching culture across the business, but is well worth the journey – the return on investment is significant and will be highly valued by the business. WeThrive helps you focus the interventions in the places that really matter to the team.
  7. Take responsibility for Executive team development – if your MD is not fully tuned into this, then it’s your job to make sure they are. Show your MD what great looks like and engage him or her in discussing the current strength of the team. Engage an external company to support you – a combination of team interventions and 1:1 executive coaching will have a powerful impact. Play a key role in the team’s continuing development – be their conscience.


As a strategic HR Director, you are ideally placed to have a significant positive impact on the success of your organisation – make the most of it. If you’d like to discuss this further contact me at jenifer@jrec.me.uk . For more on how WeThrive can help you improve staff motivation and engagement I’d recommend you talk to Piers Bishop, co-founder and business psychologist at piers@wethrive.net .

This is an abridged version of a post that originally appeared on HR Grapevine

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