Does your Human Resources (HR) team still operate in a command-and-control mode to ensure it meets its compliance and administrative functions? 

People strategist Peter A. Arthur-Smith, Founding Principal of Leadership Solutions, Inc. and author of Smart Decisions: Goodbye Problems, Hello Options says, if so, that needs to change

In an article written for SHRM, he talks about how organizational success demands leaders with a holistic, people focused mindset to engage employees and optimize their contributions.

Five People Focused Functions For Organizational Success

1. Benchstrength, Also Known As Leadership Capacity

Benchstrength is a crucial organizational resource that spurs profitable growth and keeps everyone on track. It is needed at every level – from senior leaders and strategists to the operational, frontline, and team leaders. 

To perform at their best, these people requite specific competencies, capabilities, talent, education, and experience. 

HR strategists should create ‘in-team discovery’ activities that encourage personal and team growth in a leadership capacity. These should include ways to develop future leader-managers among frontline workers.

2. Building From Within The Organization

Heterarchies are more conducive to a productive work environment than hierarchies. Hierarchies focus on who is on top and is motivated by numbers. Heterarchies work from the center out, focusing on customers and talent.

Organization building involves team-building with less focus on the solo contributor. It demands flexibility as the business scales up to reduce getting bogged down in admin and red tape. By instilling the right principles, values, and practices within your venture, you demonstrate confidence in where it is going.

3. People Capacity

HR strategists need to develop effective pipelines for capable employees to flow into the organization. One way is through ‘role staircases’ that enable new talent to arrive ready to assimilate and contribute from the get-go.

By defining “proficient,” “expert,” and “master” competencies and capabilities, you provide the framework needed for fresh people talent to grow into.

4. Employee Motivation

People motivation only follows once you’ve established the right leaders, people talent, and organization values described above. In fact, in an effective organization, rewards and benefits become less important as leaders realize it doesn’t pay to throw money at people just so that they will work harder.

Ensure respectable remuneration packages from the start and switch your people motivation efforts to growing each worker’s unique capacity. 

5. Regulatory Compliance or Strategic Inclusion

Peter divides organization management into (defunct) systems administrators (efficiency functionaries) vs (desirable) “people-strategist” facilitators (effectiveness nudgers).

Efficiency functions can be outsourced to give HR people-strategists time to create a highly engaged, people-focused environment where compliance issues are unlikely to arise.

Strategic inclusion is defined by equal opportunity initiatives that boost morale and creativity by the value of a diverse pool of available talent.


HR strategists must be involved with an organization’s strategic and operating visions. They should be champions of all five priorities and not simply be a regulatory functionary.

As Peter says: ‘Too often what can be counted doesn’t count, while what does really count cannot be counted.” Focus on your people by adopting these five strategies, and success is sure to follow.

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