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on February 01, 2017 Culture Training

Is your People Ops team Tactical or Strategic?

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If you ever find yourself thinking, “If only I had time to focus on strategy instead of all this admin,” then chances are that you may be finding your People Ops role limited to the Tactical.

With the growth of progressive technology, APIs, and data flowing seamlessly across your organization, it’s becoming critical for the People Ops team of tomorrow to rise above the operational aspects, and move into Strategic People Ops.

But it’s not easy.

Often the People Ops team can find themselves as the gopher running between new hires, managers, IT, executives and broader talent base, putting out fires, answers questions, and scheduling meetings for managers.

The tactical and the strategic aspects of HR are intertwined, but it’s when the People Ops team can build repeatable and scalable HR systems to manage the tactical, that they can turn focus to the strategic.

How did Laszlo do it?

In 2015, Work Rules! Insights From Inside Google, was published, shedding light on the top end of Strategic People Ops.

Here’s a quick summary of the insights, which each have the potential to transform your organization, team or workplace:

  1. - Give your work meaning: Connect company to more money, align sense of values and purpose.
  2. - Trust your people: Be transparent and honest, and embrace trusting good people with responsibility.
  3. - Hire only people who are better than you: Take the time and get it down right.
  4. - Don’t confuse development with managing performance: Separate L&D from reviews.
  5. - Focus on the two tails: Find the best and worst performers and study them.
  6. - Be frugal and generous: Most perks cost nothing, but pay-up on the important things.
  7. - Pay unfairly: Understand incentives and value creation.
  8. - Nudge: Encourage the right behavior.
  9. - Manage the rising expectations: Experiment with ideas.
  10. - Enjoy: Building a great culture and environment requires constant learning and renewal.

It might have worked for Laszlo, but I’m still trying to get managers to have one-on-ones — so why does understanding Laszlo’s focus matter?

Because without identifying the real strategic aspects of People Ops that can move the needle on organizational performance, it’s quite easy to get trapped in the tactical fires that arise day to day.

Tactical - Keeping the Trains Running

Tactical People Ops is performing the operational-focused aspects of Human Resources, often seen by the team as the administrators.

The initiatives undertaken are generally to keep the trains running on time, which means it can (unfortunately) often be a thankless and misunderstood role.

Tactical People Ops can be very much invisible to other teams because they are so focused on their own work, and lack the perspective of recruitment, onboarding, and ongoing employee success —along with the thousand other things that provide the work environment for people to be successful.

Strategic - Driving the Organization Forward

Strategic People Ops focuses on maximizing employee lifetime value, employee wellbeing, productivity, and most importantly, driving the organization forward.

This is the hard part of People Ops, and it’s only when the Tactical People Ops responsibilities are handled do we have time to focus on the Strategic stuff.

Tactical vs Strategic People OpsLeveraging technology to nail the tactical stuff

The admin and nitty-gritty of People Ops is becoming easier and easier with technology.

Whereas ten years ago everything was being managed through Microsoft Word and Excel, today we have purpose-built technology for recruitment, onboarding, and general HR activities (i.e. payroll).

What does this mean for you?

For the busy People Ops team managing those train schedules, there used to simply be too many trains running to find time to focus on propelling the organization forward.

But now, it’s never been a better time to be in People Ops.

There can be transitory costs (duplicate data, app fatigue, too many passwords), but the long-term benefits of leveraging purpose-built software to focus on the strategic aspects of People Ops are abundant.

As technology moves out of the IT department and across the organization, the flow of data and integrated systems is only increasing.  

Today’s People Ops teams need support to lever up from the Tactical side to the Strategic side. On the Strategic side, they can back their people with the right systems, practices, and support to propel the organization forward.

Want to learn more about how purpose-built onboarding software can help you transition to the Strategic side of People Ops?

Download Sapling’s Essential Guide to Employee Onboarding Success or sign up for a product demo.blog_banner.png

Jeni Fahy

Jeni Fahy is a contributing author at Sapling, a culture-first organization helping People Ops leaders deliver employee experience programs with consistency, visibility, and analytics. If you’re interested in enhancing your employee experience with strategic employee onboarding, schedule a demo with the Sapling team.