This article builds on previous models of
strategic human resource processes and describes what role these processes play
in linking business strategy and individual performance. The link between
business strategy and individual performance occurs in part through the
organizational capability to create and embed people processes along a number
of dimensions: vertical linkage; horizontal linkage; and temporal linkage.

These clusters of people processes can be
described and observed across all the businesses in the sample. The strength of
the linkage between people processes and business strategy varies across the
processes and across the businesses. Embedding people processes and creating
strong linkage to business strategy are of enormous importance to any HR
practitioner. Differences across the Processes Perhaps the most striking
feature of this re- search is the relatively stronger linkage for short-term
people processes and the weaker linkage for longer-term oriented processes. Complex
Interventions: Developing human resource strategies, reshaping the view of the
organization, and creating alignment are all processes that are highly complex
and on which relatively little has been written. We looked for examples of
processes that supported the creation of a long-term people-oriented
vision-using perhaps the scenario planning, models, or simulations de- scribed
by various commentators.

None of these companies regularly and
systematically used any of these processes, and where they had been used, they
were experimental or related to specific issues or were supported by a particular
long-term oriented manager. Short-Termism: We found that generally the support
of the line manager was critical to both the successful embedding and the quality
of people processes. Differences Across the Companies Clearly, there are
differences in the strength of linkage across the processes, with some
generally more strongly linked than others.

Multinational Companies: Generally, these
had more strongly linked people processes than nationally based companies. Hewlett
Packard, Citibank, Glaxo, and Kraft Jacob Suchard all had stronger people
processes than did BT Payphones, Lloyds Bank, and WH Smith. As these companies
had moved outside the national boundaries, so the people processes appear to
have been more strongly embedded and linked to the strategy and less ad-hoc and
unmonitored. Scale of Transformation: The strategic link- age of the processes
was generally weakest where the company had recently experienced major catastrophic
transformation and change. At BT Payphones, although much effort had been
focused on cascading business objectives, a rapid series of initiatives had
left employees uncertain and the processes weakly embedded. Strongly linked
processes are built over time in a consistent manner. Some had more strongly
linked processes than others. Partly as a consequence, the people processes
that had historically been strongly linked to the “Old” strategy were
poorly linked to the “New” strategy. Without understanding the
heritage of BT Payphones and Lloyds, and without monitoring these companies
over time, it is impossible to fully understand the relationship between their
commercial success and their people processes.

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