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New Economy HR Practices Questionnaire

By Jeff Sacht who can be contacted on jeffs@worldonline.co.za or www.equityskillsweb.com

Background to the questionnaire

The New Economy is driving a worldwide economic shift that will have a more profound impact on our lives than the Industrial Revolution. Two confluent forces have triggered this phenomenon - the globalisation of business, and the networking of information technology. The Internet has changed the way people work, live, play and learn (even in Africa) -- connecting everyone to everything.

It is creating new opportunities for businesses, countries and people by leveling the playing field for everyone. Technology drivers include the integration of voice, data and video into a single network as traditional voice and video services migrate from 100- year- old circuit- based networks to faster, smarter, cheaper Internet- based networks.

The Internet Economy is reshaping the fortunes of businesses, countries and people, leveling the playing field for everyone, including Human Resources and the way it conducts business in any size company. Are you as an HR professional already on board the New Economy train?

The competitive pressures wrought by the new economy call for a change in the role of the human resources function. No longer is being a "strategic partner" sufficient. In today's business environment, HR must become a leader in identifying new business opportunities, defining business strategy and corporate priorities, and preparing the organisation for continuous and often disruptive change.

Three priorities are paramount for any HR function aspiring to fulfill this leadership role. The HR function must:

1. Become at least as focused on the company's external environment as is the rest of the company. HR managers can no longer afford to wait to have change interpreted for them.

2. Be prepared and positioned to play an integral role in strategic partnerships. The success of mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances most often hinges on organisational and workforce-related issues. 

3. Ensure that the organisation's internal values remain explicit and aligned with the company's value proposition to its external customers.

The (questionnaire) items that follows on the following two pages may not be applicable to all companies all of the time, but this writer believes that the items provides insights and lessons about the critical roles, and issues that are relevant for nearly all HR executives and managers.

Complete the assessment below and take stock of your New Economy HR Practices. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 7 with:

1 = not at all/low extent, 4 = in the middle/moderate extent,

and 7 = completely/high degree, and with 2, 3, 5, 6 = being the additional levels between (1) low and (7) high.

To what extent/degree does HR in your company?

1. Explicitly structure its activities and investments around line units’ key business objectives?

2. Ensure that HR programmes and activities link clearly and directly to specific business impacts and objectives the line functions are required to achieve?

3. Ensure that line management explicitly and comprehensively considers workforce issues during the business strategy formulation process?

4. Shoulder the responsibility for workforce-related issues?

5. Monitor the changing needs of its customers to obtain sufficient warning of changes in workforce requirements?

6. Ensure/facilitate the company to supplement its annual/formal planning process with more frequent efforts to adjust and reformulate strategy, objectives, and priorities?

7. Continuously reconsider, and revise its own business strategy, objectives, and priorities in response to changing business circumstances?

8. Use scenario planning (adapted for it’s own purposes) as an important tool to prepare for potential disruptive change that the company might face?

9. Have the capability to quickly and effectively manage any and all workforce management issues related to mergers, acquisitions, strategic alliances and partnering (such as BEE initiatives)?

10. Have sensitivity to organisation culture differences critical for successful mergers, acquisitions, strategic alliances and partnering (such as BEE initiatives)?

11. Have a thoughtfully engineered and templated process for managing the integration of acquisitions, strategic alliances and partnering (such as BEE initiatives) to ensure rapid, flawless integration?

12. Conduct ‘postmortems’ after major changes such as acquisitions, strategic alliances & partnering, to improve the company’s deal management process?

13. Continuously support executive management to maintain a sense of purpose once major organisational changes (such as reorganisations, strategic partnering) have bedded down and the initial objectives has been achieved?

14. Have a vital role to play prior to strategic partnering and alliance decisions are made; assessing the company’s compatability with potential partners for general fit?

15. Proactively identify potential strategic opportunities and potential strategic alliance partners?

16. Have an in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of the company’s competitive situation, its core competencies and the capabilities of other companies in the same industry?

17. Take guardianship of the company’s value proposition to its customers as line management becomes more distracted by changes in the moment?

18. Align the company’s workforce management systems with the company’s value proposition to customers as a means to differentiate the company in an intensely competitive environment?

19. Identify a set of core business principles related to the company’s value proposition to its customers that guides day-to- day decision making without compromising the autonomy required to produce results?

20. Identify core values for individual business units compatible with those of the overall company where value propositions differ substantially between business units?

Scores mostly in the 1’s and 2’s area indicate that you have a strong focus on Old Economy HR practices; scores in the 6,’s and 7’s area indicate a strong focus on embracing New Economy HR practices to stay ahead of the game and projecting a strong business focus in your daily functions.


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