This article builds on previous models ofstrategic human resource processes and describes what role these processes playin linking business strategy and individual performance. The link betweenbusiness strategy and individual performance occurs in part through theorganizational capability to create and embed people processes along a numberof dimensions: vertical linkage; horizontal linkage; and temporal linkage.These clusters of people processes can bedescribed and observed across all the businesses in the sample. The strength ofthe linkage between people processes and business strategy varies across theprocesses and across the businesses. Embedding people processes and creatingstrong linkage to business strategy are of enormous importance to any HRpractitioner. Differences across the Processes Perhaps the most strikingfeature of this re- search is the relatively stronger linkage for short-termpeople processes and the weaker linkage for longer-term oriented processes. ComplexInterventions: Developing human resource strategies, reshaping the view of theorganization, and creating alignment are all processes that are highly complexand on which relatively little has been written. We looked for examples ofprocesses that supported the creation of a long-term people-orientedvision-using perhaps the scenario planning, models, or simulations de- scribedby various commentators.
None of these companies regularly andsystematically used any of these processes, and where they had been used, theywere experimental or related to specific issues or were supported by a particularlong-term oriented manager. Short-Termism: We found that generally the supportof the line manager was critical to both the successful embedding and the qualityof people processes. Differences Across the Companies Clearly, there aredifferences in the strength of linkage across the processes, with somegenerally more strongly linked than others.Multinational Companies: Generally, thesehad more strongly linked people processes than nationally based companies. HewlettPackard, Citibank, Glaxo, and Kraft Jacob Suchard all had stronger peopleprocesses than did BT Payphones, Lloyds Bank, and WH Smith. As these companieshad moved outside the national boundaries, so the people processes appear tohave been more strongly embedded and linked to the strategy and less ad-hoc andunmonitored. Scale of Transformation: The strategic link- age of the processeswas generally weakest where the company had recently experienced major catastrophictransformation and change. At BT Payphones, although much effort had beenfocused on cascading business objectives, a rapid series of initiatives hadleft employees uncertain and the processes weakly embedded.
Strongly linkedprocesses are built over time in a consistent manner. Some had more stronglylinked processes than others. Partly as a consequence, the people processesthat had historically been strongly linked to the “Old” strategy werepoorly linked to the “New” strategy. Without understanding theheritage of BT Payphones and Lloyds, and without monitoring these companiesover time, it is impossible to fully understand the relationship between theircommercial success and their people processes.