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Focusing on Healthcare HR Processes Shouldn’t Obscure the Need for Strategic Thinking

By Trisha Holbert, MA, SPHR, Performance Excellence Coach, HealthStream Engagement Institute

The role of Human Resources has certainly evolved over the years. Where once we were transactional, sitting behind our desk awaiting an additional paper form to be processed, we have now evolved into a more transformational, strategic minded department. Many of us, as HR professionals, now sit with the organizational senior team, participate in organizational goal setting, and talk a lot about how the organization will achieve those goals and how they will be measured. The HR function has now become part of corporate strategy in many organizations.

What an excellent opportunity for HR to also take a step back, assess how HR processes align with organizational goals, and how we can be more strategic in our thinking, ensuring that we are no longer seen as a necessary evil, but rather a vital department on which the organization relies.

Strategic Thinking is a process that defines the manner in which people think about, assess, view, and create the future for themselves and others. As HR professionals, how much time do we take to really consider what processes are in place that may actually work against those goals? Do we just assume that the processes that were created years ago still apply today? Are we too busy in our day to day work to be strategic?

If we are to be strategic partners, we must look in the mirror at ourselves. What processes do we participate in that could have an impact on organizational goals? Have we created a needs assessment for evaluation, followed by a review of project scope, data collection, analysis, action planning, evaluation, and communication? Have we partnered with our HR team, organizational leaders, to further define what our needs are and where processes just don’t work anymore?

Jac Fitz-Enz, in his book, The New HR Analytics, defines the means for process analysis in this way: 


For every process there is an input, the throughput, and the output. In other words, the process has a beginning point, actions, and an outcome. For example, in recruitment, your input may be your applicant sourcing processes, your throughput your selection and onboarding processes, and your output is hopefully a high performing employee. So as you evaluate your processes in HR, you want to not only consider the beginning and end, but all of the activities that make up the process itself, or the “throughput.”

Likely, there are many processes that will need to be evaluated. Typically, the best first step is to brainstorm the processes that need to be reviewed first, specifically to how they connect to organizational goals, and then prioritize which ones will have the greatest impact. It is better to start with 2 or 3, before moving on to additional processes.

Once you have started to make measurable impact on those organizational goals based on your work, be sure to share your success with senior leadership. Over time your focus will not only show that you are a strategic business partner, but ensuring the alignment necessary for full organizational success. It will reflect on your dedication to excellence. As John D. Rockefeller once said, “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

About the Author

With over 20 years of healthcare, operational, and human resource leadership experience, Trisha has worked extensively with numerous organizations in their strategic planning efforts, specifically in talent management. Her skills give her the ability to create collaborative relationships and identify process gaps in a transformational approach to Healthcare Human Resources. Trisha is passionate about her work as a Performance Excellence Coach. Through her energetic, straight forward approach, Trisha seeks to educate, engage and support organizational execution of game-changing strategy. 


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