The Conference Board uses cookies to improve our website, enhance your experience, and deliver relevant messages and offers about our products. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this site is provided in our cookie policy. For more information on how The Conference Board collects and uses personal data, please visit our privacy policy. By continuing to use this Site or by clicking "OK", you consent to the use of cookies. 

12 Dec. 2011 | Comments (0)

Being STRATactical implies you fully understand the STRATEGY needed to be successful as you tactically engage in behaviors to achieve success and build a legacy more influential than when you arrived.

For example, when I retired from the FBI and began my career in business, I was unprepared for the “language of business” to meet the challenges posed to me by CEOs, COOs and CFOs. I registered and completed three years of Doctoral Studies in Business Administration. I needed to align learning and development to the organizations strategy and provide tactics to impact the business through L&D initiatives and programs.

Not only are industries changing and disappearing, internal management functions are changing (and disappearing!), too.  For HR and L&D professionals, health benefits, employee relations, compliance, 401K plans, HRIS, organizational development and learning are all platforms to showcase our competencies. However, we must focus that the business of business is financial growth built through human relationships.

Although we operate within a business structure, we have not been traditionally seen as business savvy or having business acumen. If we “walk the talk” of business operations -- acquire sufficient business acumen -- we will both portray and impact our organization’s financial growth and lend legitimacy to the administrative and operational functions we bring to an organization.

Wally Adamchik, President of Firestarter Speaking and Consulting, recently stated that most employees or executives don’t fully comprehend the phrase, “You offer EFFORT, but you are judged on RESULTS."  Wally further stated that business operations staff often ignore functional staff that only provide an administrative perspective, thereby creating a downward spiral of lower expectations of that functional staff.  To reduce or eliminate that perception HR and L&D professionals must fully understand the strategic goals and objectives of the business and apply them tactically when responding to business operations requests/concerns.

Do we possess sufficient business acumen?  Are we preparing a HR and L&D legacy that is valued by business operations? Do we consider ourselves more administrative or operational? Do others consider us more administrative or operational? Can’t we be both administrative and operational?

David Vance, former Chief Learning Officer (CLO) at Caterpillar University, offered the following in his blog at Chief Learning Officer magazine, August 2011:  “How much do I need to know about accounting and financial statements to run learning like a business? This is a recurring question and the answer is “Not that much.” The good news is that a little bit of knowledge about financial matters goes a long way. The bad news – for some anyway – is that some financial knowledge is essential for your success, and many have not been exposed to any in their formal education or on the job.”

In a recent discussion with Kevin Cope, President and CEO of Acumen Learning, he stated, “If you can contribute to your company’s cash and cash flow, you’ll be valued as an employee who practices business acumen -- and you’ll help fuel the success of your business. Further, how much more effective would you be as leaders and decision makers by first knowing the key measures and then what the trend or change is of those numbers, the ‘why’ behind the changes and then identify how they can impact the number(s) within your individual role?”

If we as HR and L&D professionals can align administrative and operational decisions for maximum business impact, such that each employee knows and understands both the “how” and “what” they do is related to business operations, net operating profit, future growth and a stable company, which translates to “stable employment," we will have begun to exemplify the behavior for others to follow.

After attending the presentation at the HR Leadership Forum on 4 November 2011, Dick Davies, President of Sales Lab DC blogged Fighting Entropy where he offered, “How quickly an attitude change can trigger a significant performance improvement, and second, how people under pressure choose to abandon unfamiliar behaviors, almost never initiating better behaviors. Al made me realize that when times get tough, the antidote is to add structure to do the job better. Instead, people want to abandon the new and unfamiliar. Finding and implementing a skill or practice that improves performance is an important behavior of an effective leader.”

Scott Eblin, President and Founder of The Eblin Group and author of The Next Level, suggests that as we climb the ladder of success within business, we must abandon the behaviors that made us successful previously, and embrace new behaviors [both strategic and tactical] -- where different results are expected.

Take the time to engage in reflective thought and consider the successes and failures you have experienced in your professional HR or L&D careers.  Were some of those failures due to a lack of business acumen?  Are you prepared to embrace new actionable behaviors which are STRATactically connected to your success and the organizations financial growth?  Can you make a business case for increasing L&D spending?  Do your HR competencies increase the net operating profit of your organization? 

Isn’t it time to exemplify the behavior you want to see in your staff?  Lead by example and acquire the requisite skills necessary to acquire business acumen!

  • About the Author: Alan A. Malinchak

    Alan A. Malinchak

    Alan A. Malinchak is the Chief Learning Officer at Homeland Security Solutions, Inc. (HSSI) and business development executive for both training solutions and professional security services. Al condu…

    Full Bio | More from Alan A. Malinchak


0 Comment Comment Policy

Please Sign In to post a comment.