HR Team not Meeting Expectations: using Option Solving

Our option solving candidate for this week: an international financial organization with a substantial branch presence in the US. It has been operating from its New York base for 20-30 years and its America’s workforce is large enough to warrant a small human resources team.

Over the past 4-5 years people within the branch have become increasingly frustrated with the HR team’s effectiveness: it is currently responsible for salary and benefit administration, as well as assisting in recruitment, new employee orientation and training activities. With a fair number of expatriates within the branch, their issues also have to be handled.

With a new general manager in place over the past 2 years, who has ambitious plans for the group, the HR team’s effectiveness came further into the spotlight. One of the branch leadership team was assigned to resolve the issue, even though that person has no defined experience in the HR field. His challenge: to find an acceptable solution as quickly as possible.

Fortunately he is conversant with the option solving technique, so he immediately sets about formulating an appropriate question. Once the appropriate issues or are highlighted, it turns out to be as follows: “What is our best option for handling our current HR function, so that it will be effective, up-to-date and communicate HR issues promptly?”

With this in place, he is now positioned to identify the two “bookends” (see Smart Decisions book) to help frame his deliberations. These were: at one end, “Stay as we are,” and at the other end, “Completely replace the team.” Both were unacceptable choices at this moment in time, for a variety of reasons, but they served to spur the executive’s intuitive intelligence into high creative gear.

A little help from some confidantes with HR experience enables him to come up with the following options: A)?, B) Train and coach current people, C)?, D) Outsource some of what we currently do, E)?, and F) Get an outside HR professional to review the situation – see Latest Example.

Again, this non-executive’s choice is not important, since only he has the best contextual perspective to pick the optimum option with his experience laden intuitive intelligence. Even so, once his choice is made, he is able to meet with his general manager and walk that individual through his thinking and final option: chances are the general manager will go along with it…a good step accomplished. His clear framing, alternatives and intuitive choice provide the arguments and intuitive reasoning to convince his own leader, as well as himself.

It will be a surprise if good progress is not made within the near future and sooner rather than later the enterprise will be able to put the issue behind it: hence good momentum is sustained.  (Next week’s posting: Taking the best fundamental strategic decision to move a business forward using Option Solving.)

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