There are many HR books and academic articles about the difference between tactical and strategic HR. Tactical HR is reactive or operational-style HR. Although this approach is a little outdated, it is still an essential function of effective human resources. Strategic HR refers to a more visionary style. We cover the differences here.

Both approaches are important

Many HR consultancy firms want to jump straight into the strategic or ‘sexy’ functions of HR without first building the structural or operational efficiencies required to set a business up for success.

It’s like building a house: if you don’t get the foundations right there is no point spending thousands of dollars on interior design if the house is going to fall down once exposed to the elements!

We maintain that getting your house in order with a strong operational baseline. That includes HR Compliance frameworks, which ensure your business can manage people according to your business standards. Once this is done, you can then focus on the strategic HR objectives required for you to deliver on your ‘big picture’ business goals.

Strategic HR is an essential part of building an organisation that is built to last. Below we give you a snapshot of the main differences between tactical and strategic HR:

Tactical Human Resources

  • Old-style personnel function (bureaucracy & rules)
  • Transactional & operational focus (payroll, letters, reports)
  • HR is seen as policy ‘police’ or enforcers
  • Extremely reactive (inefficient behaviours wastage)
  • High value placed on operational support to business.

Strategic Human Resources

  • Collaborative business partnerships—aligns solutions with specific business needs
  • Trusted advisors with strategic focus—a seat at the table
  • Seen as enablers and change agents
  • Integrated value-adding people initiatives
  • High value placed on HR partnering with the business
  • Everyone held accountable for People Initiatives & KPIs
  • Leadership excellence in everything we do.

Linking HR approaches to your business

It’s no secret that many HR functions and HR practitioners have a poor reputation because they fail to fully understand their clients. They fail to listen—and fail to provide practical solutions that make sense.

At HR Gurus we ensure that every solution we suggest or implement links back to your overarching business goals. We seek to understand your business before problem-solving or selling you programs or solutions that you might not need.

This, in our eyes, is the difference between tactical HR and strategic HR. This way we become trusted advisors with a seat at the table when it comes to making big strategic decisions. It means that your HR Strategy is set up to drive your Business Strategy.

In our next blog series, we will explain how to create an HR Strategy in your business.

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