The upcoming Radical HR: Upskilling From Service Provider to Solutions Expert certificate program begins on March 6. Built in association with the International Institute of Business Analysis, the pilot program ran in 2021. It generated insightful and constructive reflection from attendees. 

Below are excerpts from an interview with pilot program attendee, Deanna Dillon, self-employed leadership coach, Deanne Dillon Coaching,conducted by Shyra Wells from the International Institute of Business Analysis. If you would like to sign up for the program, registration is open until March 3. 

Why is it important for HR to pivot from being a service provider to a solutions expert? 

Any function in business must do more than sit back and reactively respond to requests. They need to be in front of things, identifying what the issues are, and then offering solutions proactively. HR has, for whatever reason, suffered a lack of self-confidence as a function, and has been more challenged than other functions in having a clearly defined role in the organization. So, anything that increases competence and confidence in Human Resources is important. 

What are some of the external pressures facing your HR team?  How have these new business analysis techniques provided a way of effectively addressing those issues?  

I think the pandemic has overlaid a level of complexity to people and talent issues in organizations It’s created more uncertainty and a need to challenge the thought process we’ve used to make decisions. The skills, techniques and models that this course has introduced are a really important foundation to start off with. If I had this program earlier in my career, it would have allowed me to take shortcuts in terms of having a process and tools. This would allow me to assess problems, determine metrics and data to look at for measurement and ways to present to decision makers. This kind of data literacy and business analysis and competency is really nice to have, which is a skill set would want to have on the team.  

Looking ahead to the projects you’ll contribute to in the next 12-18 months, how will the business analysis techniques you learned in the program be applied to your work?  
I meet with HR leaders, who are often the people that organized coaching, and one of the challenges in coaching is trying to figure out what’s the problem we’re trying to solve, what’s the gap we’re trying to address. So, I have learned some things and it’s made me think about things that I’d want to approach differently. When I meet with organizational sponsors in the future, who are the decision makers about whether or not coaching is the right intervention let’s say for an employee or a leader, now I would probably ask questions a little differently, to get them thinking about what is it that they’re really trying to solve i.e. what is it that they hope coaching will accomplish for them, how will they measure that, and how will they know it was successful? Now I’m thinking about different ways that I could help them determine what they might measure and how they might present it to other decision makers in their organization, if they don’t have the full buy in yet.  

In the pre-assessment survey almost everyone agreed with the statement “business analysis techniques and skills are essential to a high functioning HR department.”  Now that you’ve completed the course and had a chance to build and use those skills, how would you describe the value and impact of those skills to an HR colleague?  

I would say it has reaffirmed and increased my level of awareness and commitment to ensuring that these skills would be present on the team or that they would be developed. Another connection I made is around how this could help HR. There are a lot of things coming into the HR function, whether it’s communications or health and safety, as well as quantifying in such a way that make priorities clear, rather than taking on things in the moment. That leads to wellness because I see a lot of HR people who get really burned out because they can’t really set the boundaries around what it is that they’re willing to do or not do on the job. 

They’re just supposed to care about everything, right? So, it’s like having all this empathy for everyone at once and trying to do everything.

That’s what sells HR a lot; it’s the emotional piece. Everyone gets very influenced by, “We should be doing this thing for our employees,” and they go naturally to the human resource department to do it. Then the emotions take over versus really determining is that really going to give us the outcomes we desire or is it really going to address employee engagement or wellbeing or retention. So, I think anything that allows you to rationally and objectively present any tools and methods is going to be really important and helpful. 

What was your favorite part of the course? Do you have any suggest we should implement for the first cohort in March 2023?   
There was a lot of value in all of it; I thought it was interesting. We were introduced to certain tools but what I really liked was that mindset shift around putting the user at the center. This isn’t new, even in HR. A part of me liked the fact that I had to work a little harder with the examples and think how this could be applied in HR. For me, it was about the mindset around how you think about how you’re going to approach things. The thing that stood out for me was the module that introduced the user stories, to get us to be really crisp in why something needed to be in place. Who was it serving? What is that they were going to do with that? What’s the purpose? I noticed that many of us in the class had some challenges with that, because we were using more vague language, such as “Oh, it’s optimal” or “It’ll make something more effective.” Well, what does more effective mean? I think the more we really drill down, the more helpful it is. It was all very valuable but that stood out for me as something that could really shift for the HR function. 
Just getting you out of the box that you’re always in, right? Yes, it’s hard to think that way.  
Yes, and the more we can do that, it will allow more transferability from HR to other functions. It’s really good when there is movement, especially as people go up the chain and into senior leadership roles. There aren’t many people from HR to go into other roles but I think the more we have this common business language, the more likely that that’s going to happen.

After taking this course, do you feel you have a better sense of understand how to deliver business outcomes? If yes, how so? 
I think so because although I have a lot of HR experience, now I have new language to work with and a new framework to reflect on experience and learn from it. This is often what happens, right? We go through an experience, and we learn from it in the moment. But then as we get more awareness, knowledge, tools and frameworks, we can reflect back on that experience and learn again from it in a different way. For me, it opened up that doorway to certain things that I would want to dive into more as a result of having done this introductory course. There’s no doubt in my mind that this course has served me in ways I never imagined, stretched my mind, and taught me to look at things differently. I would be really pressing and challenging myself and any team I was part of to be using these kinds of techniques. I would encourage any HR team to work towards this sort of mindset, using business analysis tools more regularly in their day-to-day work. This not only will help them step out of an HR box, professionals are often stuck in but help advance their career towards a doorway into senior leadership in all areas of the business.

Registration is still open for the Radical HR: Upskilling From Service Provider to Solutions Expert certificate. In this five-module certificate program, HR professionals will develop competencies to conduct comprehensive needs analysis and create evidence-informed solutions. Learn more and sign up here.