“Have you given to your local HR Department?”

Within the Human Resources industry, a common thread exists in any discussion regarding the role HR plays within an organization: “how does HR become a strategic business partner?”

The key is to dominate in September.

In Dallas – Ft. Worth, September is a special month. High school football takes over Friday nights. Temperatures cool considerably, sometimes topping off in the low 90’s. Parents finally exhale as their kids are back in school, and at the office it’s “budget time.”

In Human Resources, budgeting is traditionally done from the historical perspective. Utilizing last year’s budget, approximate increased pay & bonuses and send it up the chain. As a pure SG&A expense, HR is rarely in the position to request additional headcount or appropriate the money needed to launch any number of the “strategic” initiatives that are critical to Human Resources getting the opportunity to show their strategic value.

That’s life in Human Resources, plenty of good ideas but little in the way of capital to make the ideas into reality. It’s a dynamic within a company that is very similar to the process a start-up company faces when generating seed money from potential investors. It’s a process that requires HR to leave the comfort zone of the Ivory Tower, put on an entrepreneur’s hat, and start selling their plans to internal clients.

The key is the timing of the pitch. In a tight economy, it’s critical to be on the front-end of the funding process: that means getting your dollars included in the budget, and that means you need to be prepared to succeed in September. Failing to do so means battling a zero-sum mindset during the year. You want a mid-year Talent Assessment meeting with a Team-building workshop? Don’t ask for it in Q1, where your project can be funded only at the expense of another; get your project on the books in September.

These are the actions of a strategic business partner. Identify a need, build your proposal, sell the Return on Investment, and close the deal.

That doesn’t sound like HR, does it?

Well, that’s the point.

John “Whit” Whitaker is the Founder and Managing Partner of HR Hardball™. Do you know your Finance partner? Figure it out! To send Mr. Knows-it-All an email, or to submit your own thoughts for publishing on this site: