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Where Is The Performance Gap In Our Department?

Much of the time, as HR departments, especially where it is a one-man department, the tendency is to rely on informal indicators to gauge the performance level of the department. We think, well, there have been no queries or disputes, nobody has complained, so everything must be fine.

But the professional approach would be to conduct a periodic gap analysis, you know, for the HR department to conduct a gap analysis on itself, as a performance management measure that would yield the sort of credible quantifiable and qualitative information we can reference when reporting on the status of our department.

A gap analysis is an examination of your current performance for the purpose of identifying the differences between your current state of business and where you’d like to be. Basically it boils down to three questions – where are we now; where do we wish we were, and, how do we close the gap?

Conducting a gap analysis can help you improve your business efficiency and your service offerings because it will show you where the “gaps” that need to be closed are, thereby allowing you to focus the allocation of relevant resources on those identified areas in order to improve them.


1. Conduct your Current  Situational Analysis.

Does your HR department have a strategic plan or a Balanced Scorecard to work off? If so, that strategic plan or scorecard will inform your priority areas. If not, cascade the organisational strategic plan or scorecard to your department and derive priority areas from there. With that as your baseline, evaluate how close you are as a department to delivering on that factor. 


2. Identify where you want to be with your department.

This future goal, sometimes called a desired state, future target, or stretch goal is necessary because it gives you a target to focus on whether you are an individual or a team in the department. When do you expect to have arrived at that goal? This goal may be a new policy, a new programme, a new standard of delivery – this goal is anything that you would have defined in the context of your service mandate in that organisation.


3. Identify the gaps in your department.

Now that you’ve recognised where your department is currently, and where you want it to be in the future, take the

next step to closing the gap. It is not just enough to say, deliver a better HR service. In order to stay relevant, you need to be specific about addressing the needs of your users. When you ask questions, be as detailed as possible to really uncover the underlying causes of your current performance level. “Why are staff members so difficult to work with?” Because they want something contemporary.

“Why do they want something contemporary?” Because they are dealing with a set of realities in the environment that we had not anticipated and we are not ready for.

“Why didn’t we anticipate these realities that our staff are facing?” Because we were focussed on staff wellness programmes to begin with and now medication and lifestyle coaches have addressed those concerns, so now our staff want us to support their professional development interests but we are not equipped.

“Why are we not equipped?” Because we would need a policy for that and maybe even a structure review and these seem to happen once in a lifetime!

“Why can’t we put together a business case and propose this to the team?” Because we didn’t know we are allowed to do that. We thought we had to wait for an instruction from management. Well actually the truth is, we don’t know how to do a business case. What is a business case?


4. Devise improvements to close the gaps in your department.

At this point, you would have identified and explored the issues around the gaps in your department. It would then be time for action. On the basis of the information you collected during the gap analysis, generate a few scenarios, cost them, develop their implementation plans using reliable project management principles and see what it would take to get to goal. Benchmark. Finalise your proposal. Present it. Lobby for the support you need from key decision makers/stakeholders. And, suppose you get a go-ahead. Well, let us discuss that in the next instalment. Have a productive week ahead.

The H.R. Dashboard



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