How Do You Prefer Your HR – Strategic or Operational?

I hope that you recognized our article title for the trick question that it is. Why? Because for the best results – whether you are an employer, an employee or an HR practitioner – you need an HR Department that is both strategic and operational. Let’s define both terms to understand why this is the case.

Strategic Human Resource Management focuses on the organisation’s vision, mission and strategic objectives and identifies how the HR function can contribute to the successful execution of the overall business strategy. This aspect of HR has a long-term and big picture orientation. 

In contrast, Operational Human Resource Management focuses on the management of the day-to-day issues and ensuring compliance with the legal requirements of employing people. 

ASQ, a global organisation devoted to helping individuals and organisations achieve excellence through quality, explains the difference in functionality of strategic level and operational level leadership this way:

Strategic Leadership

  •  Defines the overall vision and mission of an organization
  •  Develops strategies, systems, and structures to achieve the vision and mission
  •  Creates both technical and social systems that are effectively integrated, and which address the needs of both customers and employees

Operational Leadership

  •  Ensures that organizational processes are effectively carried out on a day-to-day basis
  •  Monitors performance
  •  Addresses constraints
  •  Ensures that employees understand what is to be done and are provided with the authority, knowledge, and skills to do it 

By now, I hope that it is even more evident that strategic and operational HRM are best viewed as interconnected and mutually reinforcing.

Most Prevalent Model

While the rationale for pursuing both strategic and operational HRM is evident, it is more often aspirational rather than de facto. HR practitioners continue to yearn to be embraced as strategic business partners who have a critical role to play in the C-Suite. However, far too often rather than having a seat at the table, figuratively speaking we are outside the room where the decisions about vision, mission and strategy are made and then are marshalled to help ensure that the job gets done.

In a recent episode of Let’s Talk HR with HRMAB, we explored the importance of HR having both a strategic and operational focus. I invite you to have a look at the video below for a deeper dive into the topic.

Moving from Aspirational to Actual

Given the previously outlined gap between the most prevalent model and what we know to be the most effective model, the HR Management Association of HRMAB will be staging an Strategic Business Partner Bootcamp in March 2023. Please see the flyer below for further details.

We invite you to CLICK HERE to join the mailing list for this practical and intensive opportunity for learning and development by scanning the QR Code. Members of the mailing list will be granted access to early bird specials and other special promotions. So don’t miss out on those valuable opportunities.


1 Comment

  • Joan Underwood

    Registration is now open for HRMAB’s Strategic Business Partner Bootcamp coming up on March 16th and 17th. To register visit

    Registration gives you access to the HRMAB Whova online community where you can interact with Pillar Champions, Sponsors, other registrants and HRMAB itself. You also can pose questions, participate in polling and access informative articles and videos. Your access to this online community runs from registration to three months after the live Bootcamp event.

    I hope to see you in our Whova Community!

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