Commercial HR. What Is It #NewToHR

Commercial HR. What Is It?

The last few years has seen a new term catch on in the world of HR and business: commercial HR, and now every HR applicant likes to describe themselves as a commercial HR Professional.

So what is commercial HR, and how is it different to run-of-the-mill People Operations?

For a start, the name commercial HR is a bit misleading, since it implies that it is a thing – a noun – whereas it is more useful to think of commercial HR as a process.

Commercial HR is about the Why’s…
The growing respect for the role of the HR department among top companies has led to the elevation of senior HR professionals from departmental managers to strategic partners. Instead of meekly waiting for orders from head office, this new breed of HR leader actively participates at the executive level, using the varied elements of the HR function as powerful tools for success. This transformation of the expectations of the HR department is what is meant by ‘commercial HR.’

So what are the hallmarks of commercial HR?

Unlike traditional HR, which has always been focused solely on implementation (whether of policies or systems), commercial HR is also jointly concerned with deciding which policies and procedures will directly impact on the business’s main goals, and using the powerful data-processing tools it wields to measure that impact.

As a result, commercial HR has to be aware of what all stakeholders, including shareholders, customers and employees expect from the business.

Embracing Change
If there is one core ability that defines successful commercial HR, it is the ability to anticipate, prepare for, manage and measure change. If this is done successfully, the business will adapt to and benefit from change; conversely, if predictions are awry, management is clumsy and KPIs inaccurate, there will be losses.

This has led many top businesses to search for a new type of HR professional:

  1. someone who can demonstrate a track record of successful interventions
  2. someone who can transcend the limitations of their job description in order to find a new way forward
  3. someone who can invent and create new tools and processes, not just implement them.

As a result, many ambitious candidates now define themselves as commercial HR people in an attempt to demonstrate their suitability for the new role!

Understanding People

Some HR professionals fail in understanding commercial HR by failing to shake off the traditional hierarchical mindset.

They think that because they are now involved at the ‘higher‘ end of the business operation, the ‘lower‘ end is someone else’s responsibility.

In fact, effective commercial HR people realise that a business has to look after the welfare and morale of its workforce, and that a deep understanding of psychology and culture is as vital as it has always been to achieving the most out people.

The true commercial, business-focused HR leader will strike that elusive sweet spot between.

© New To HR


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