HR – choose wisely, but invest

For HR to establish credibility around its role in enabling business success it needs to be able to deliver an increase in capability and performance in these areas. For this to happen, it needs to invest in its people.


The reality of HR in 2018 is best summed up as a complex relationship between three things:

  1. a huge need for competitive ability in talent management and matching organisational capability with key business objectives
  2. HR’s own capability and credibility evolution, with a number of gaps to close in areas such as organisational development (OD), talent processes, strategic partnership, strategic workforce planning (SWP) and data analytics
  3. the level of investment and funding available for HR to support closing the gap between points 1 and 2

I’ve been in and around the HR world for about a couple of decades now, and we still talk about many of the same gaps in capability and still seem to exhibit a minimalist, and almost apologetic, attitude to funding the development and career pathing of HR people. This is not something that we see in areas of business judged to have a more explicit relationship with revenue generation. The challenge therefore is somewhat a ‘Catch 22’ dilemma: until HR can demonstrate the role it plays in helping the business meet its objectives, it won’t receive the necessary funding to invest in its own people, and without that funding, how can it develop the necessary capability required to support the delivery of business objectives.

Supporting HR with managing this dilemma has been a key driver for Henley’s approach to HR capability building:

  • In moving away from longer, residential programmes, we are able to impart learning in ways that minimise both time out of the business and cost to the function. 
  • By focusing in on four subjects that HR tells us represent key capability priorities, we again maximise learning value while minimising investment. 
  • Through our house style of sharing best practice in an environment of peer discussion and sharing, each day spent on an HR programme is packed with the maximum opportunity to develop knowledge and perspective. 
  • Lastly, the practical and flexible way that these programmes work allows you to apply learnings to the context of your organisation and your role, giving you more tailored insights that allow you to deliver value more quickly.

We offer four one-day masterclasses. 

Our OD Masterclass is founded on the principle that what OD is depends on the context, maturity and culture of an organisation. 

Our SWP Masterclass is unique in offering half of the day engaged in actually doing SWP

Effective HR Business Partnering 1 looks at the fundamentals of how to build credibility and strategic value while balancing the various dimensions of the role. 

Effective HR Business Partnering 2 focuses on the adjacent skills of talent management, succession and performance, diversity and working with HR data. 

These four one-day masterclasses have been designed to be undertaken as standalones or as a group, giving flexibility to a busy and often financially-constrained HR audience.

My message here is, I hope, clear. Businesses must invest more in HR development, and HR functions must dedicate whatever funds they can to the upskilling of its people. Our suite of one-day HR masterclasses simply tries to give HR functions the best possible value for money in this respect.

Discover more about the HR masterclasses available at Henley Business School.

Nick Kemsley is the Programme Director of the HR masterclasses.