What is Strategic Human Resource Management?

Written by Scott Wilson

what is strategic hrm?

What is strategic human resource management? Strategic human resource management is the practice of applying the traditional processes of human resource management (HRM) toward fulfilling larger organizational goals. Instead of focusing on the day-to-day management of staff, strategic HRM takes a big-picture approach that aligns recruitment, training, and retention with the overall mission of the organization.

Strategy is the process of planning and allocating resources to achieve a specific goal. It can be applied in all kinds of different venues… sales, finance, operations, even maintenance. It combines big-picture perspectives of assets and liabilities with planning and capabilities with a view toward accomplishing a specific mission or setting conditions favorable to achieving that mission.

So strategic human resource management is the application of strategic principles and activities to handling an organization’s human resources: its employees.

It’s a concept and set of skills that strong organizational leaders have to embrace in today’s business environment. But it’s also a role that an organizational leadership education sets you up to succeed in.

What Is the Purpose of Strategic Human Resource Management?

purpose strategic hrmHuman resources has often been a purely administrative function. HR teams maintain records, process documentation, manage complaints and help companies comply with regulations.

But as the knowledge industry began to take hold, many business leaders began to recognize that staffing was actually a competitive advantage. The biggest machines or best materials weren’t the key to getting jobs done. Instead, it was having the right people in place and keeping them trained and motivated.

Strategic human resources is designed to:

How Strategic Human Resources Management Works in Organizational Leadership

corporate teamStrategic HR management starts with a good look at overall organizational objectives and an understanding of the industry. An HR manager has to understand job requirements and the conditions of the job market outside the organization.

They work to align hiring campaigns, candidate screening, and interviewing processes to make sure they are getting staff who can move the company forward. This often goes far beyond the basics of finding candidates who fit a certain job description. Strategic HR assess motivations, trainability, and the career goals of staff to make sure investing in them will pay off.

Strategic HR management also has a lot to do with how those employees are managed. Leaders will set up training plans to move the company talent pool toward the future. They’ll arrange for mentorship for junior employees, and evaluate pay and benefits to retain talented senior staff.

Leaders also use strategic human resource management the other way around—with the improved understanding of their team’s capabilities and potential, strategic HR can actually influence the strategy of the organization itself. A new business opportunity opens up in a field where you happen to know you have several in-house experts on staff? That may be a deal to jump at even if it’s otherwise off the map of your current plans.

Strategic Human Resource Managers Leverage Leadership Skills To Build Effective Teams

But how do strategic HR managers actually put these ideas into practice? It all comes down to leveraging the interpersonal skills and knowledge they have developed of their team and industry.

A core of empathy centers every good strategic HR manager.

Being able to put yourself in the shoes of your staff is always a good place to start. When you understand their lives, their dreams, and their background, you can find more effective ways to support them in their work.

Communication is also a key skill in strategic HR. You won’t get far if you can’t have a real, relatable conversation with your key team members. And when it comes time to help them through the rough spots of the job, or to offer guidance and mentorship, you need to be able to get your point across both clearly and tactfully.

A leader focused on STRATEGIC HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT also has to have strong analytical skills. Basic motivators like salary and benefits have to be in line with those available to employees at other employers. At the same time, they have to be realistically within the budget of your organization.

Analysis also comes into play when leaders look at the outcomes of their HR strategy. By putting benchmarks in place, leaders can make changes on the fly as the results of their HR management efforts become clear.

How Can Organizational Leadership Education Make You Better at Strategic Human Resource Management?

applauding group meetingIt’s not surprising that someone has come up with a specific kind of leadership training that works very well in strategic human resources management. It’s called organizational leadership, and you can earn degrees or certificates at almost every level in the field.

Organizational leadership is a style of management that focuses on the human element of business.

The best organizational leaders, with experience and training in the field, have expertise in:

These are the tactical skills that allow you to put the human resources strategy you design into practice.

What Kind of Organizational Leadership Degrees Can Boost Strategic Human Resource Management Skills?

teamworkThose skills are best developed through formal educational studies in organizational leadership. A bachelor’s in organizational leadership gives you essential, entry-level training in leadership and a basic liberal studies background to give you good communications and critical thinking skills. A master’s in organizational leadership (MSOL/MAOL) brings those skills up to the next level, drilling down on advanced leadership concepts and techniques.

At both levels, you can find degrees in organizational leadership that offer concentrations in human resources management. These combine leadership training with the essential elements of strategic HR, putting the inspirational together with the practical.

There are also increasing numbers of degrees in human resources that offer concentrations in organizational leadership. These cover the same territory, only with more emphasis on core HR concepts. Either option can give you the footing you need for work as a strategic human resource manager.

Certificate programs offer another option for anyone who doesn’t have the time or need for a full degree in the field. These take less than a year to complete, and can also be found with HR specializations. They also come at different levels of expertise, including graduate and post-graduate, so you can find something to match your stage of career and education.

Depending on what stage of your career you find yourself in, any of these options can make good sense for taking your strategic HR management abilities to the next level. With strong human resources expertise and the humanistic touch that comes with organizational leadership, your organization can count on an edge in human resources for as long as you are in charge.