Setting Priorities: A 7-Step Process for HR
Establishing yourself as a key member of the strategic team requires you to make tough HR decisions and defend them to executives.
That’s easier to do after you systematically set priorities for your HR department. The process can benefit ROI and increase productivity without spiking the budget—all of which is especially important for small HR departments with limited staff and resources.
Use these seven guidelines to help separate real priorities from perfunctory tasks.
1. Track ongoing projects every day over a few weeks and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do they impact the organization’s bottom line or productivity?
- Do they support the organization’s goals?
- Do they help HR serve employees better?
- Are they truly crucial, or simply organizational habits that nobody questions?
2. Find ways to cut back, eliminate or delegate ongoing projects and tasks that provide negative responses to the previous questions. Ask HR staffers to do the same thing. Review results and devote the time saved to true priorities.
3. Rank every current project and task into three urgency levels. Make the top level true priorities.
4. Set a goal for each priority. Is it to increase sales, ramp up productivity, improve customer service or something else?
5. Write down everything that needs to be done to accomplish each priority. Separate the items into urgent and non-urgent.
6. In hiring, prioritize which jobs to fill. Give precedence to jobs that impact revenue, are difficult to fill, and require hard-to-find skills. Don’t set more than 25% of jobs as a high priority because it will spread your efforts too thin.
7- Brace yourself for resistance to some priorities. Determine who will provide opposition and prepare arguments designed to counter it.
Final tips: Remember that every type of HR project has a different success rate and impact on the bottom line. Favor areas that directly affect the business, such as retention, hiring, training and leadership development.
How to Prioritize Your Old-School ‘To Do’ List
Whether it’s on paper or online, many people still structure their work and home tasks via to-do lists. But how do you decide which item to tackle first? Use this tried-and-true process to manage competing priorities:
Step 1: Make a list of all the tasks on your plate. Don’t worry about order or importance yet. Leave space beside each item for notes.
Step 2: Rate each activity according to importance, using the following scale. (To narrow your focus, ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t do that task.)
A – Very important (critical to essential task)
B – Important (should be done)
C – Discretionary (not essential)
D – Unimportant (could be left undone)
Step 3: Rate each activity according to its urgency. Urgency relates to how long you can delay a task without causing problems or missing opportunities.
1 – Very urgent (must be done now)
2 – Urgent (must be done soon)
3 – Not urgent (long range)
4 – Time isn’t a factor
Step 4: Prioritize your activities. Rearrange your list in alphanumeric order: A1, A2, B1, B2, A3, etc. Prioritize letters first, because important items should be addressed before less important—but more urgent—tasks.