When entrepreneurs become HR people

William Woods Business

When entrepreneurs become HR people

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about the HR partner model — the idea that HR should participate in strategic planning and be at the executive table, in order to help an organization, achieve its goals.

For example, a 2015 Harvard Business Review article, “People Before Strategy: A New Role for the CHRO” called for businesses to stop treating Chief HR Officers “as supporting players brought in to implement decisions that have already been made,” but rather ensure CHROs “have a central part in corporate decision making and [are] properly prepared for that role.”

However, in implementing the HR partner model, many businesses realize that for HR to truly play a strategic role, CHROs and HR staff must have a stronger grasp and understanding of non-HR business knowledge. This includes anything from project management practices and operational activities to the organization’s strategic objectives and environment within which the business operates. Moreover, CHROs must have an entrepreneurial mindset and be able to identify opportunities and enact organizational changes to improve business performance or maximize ROI.

This need for executive level individuals that tread the intersection between HR and entrepreneurship was recently discussed in another HRB article, “Why More Executives Should Consider Becoming a CHRO.” Authors John Boudreau, Peter Navin, and David Creelman interviewed search professionals, CEOs and CHROs to learn that there is a precedent of executives without a traditional HR background, succeeding in the CHRO role. They point to four main reasons behind the success of these nontraditional CHROs:

  • They focus on business results, not only on people outcomes;
  • They push fellow leaders, not just support or serve them;
  • They embrace opportunity, not only reduce risk; and
  • They apply diverse business skills to their role.

At William Woods University, aspiring entrepreneurs pursuing an MBA in Entrepreneurial Leadership are required to take courses such as BMT517 Human Resources and Organizational Behavior. This course reviews organizational behavior, examines individual behavior within organizations, investigates group and social processes and analyzes organizational processes. In doing so, students become more able to bridge the gap between traditional HR best practices and entrepreneurship.

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