Not many HR managers wield the power to influence their company’s policies and strategic business growth. In most cases, they are out of the picture when discussions touch on markets, products and consumers. The role of HR teams is often restricted to recruiting and training. To influence business strategy, the HR manager needs a good strategic plan that should be the guiding principles for the HRM function. The plan needs constant review and change as aspects of the business keep changing.

Empowering the HR function starts with understanding the business of the organization. You should first know your customers, production cost, and monthly sales goals. By aligning your knowledge with that of the organisational goals, you can show to the board how you can help run the business efficiently.

Here are few pointers to become an empowered HR professional ready to influence business strategy:

Know the HR business inside out

Your knowledge of the job market, skillsets, training period and other parameters comes in handy when you have to provide insightful information and advice. You should be able to convince the board about the transparency in alignment of corporate values in the HRM strategic plan, which in turn is influenced by the mission and objectives of the organization. Your expertise in breaking down your HR strategies that underpin the company’s vision shifts the scale in your favour with the top management.

Think of your department as a business unit

Think cost and efficiency. Although many consider HR as a cost centre, you should be able to show how your department’s goals contribute to the accomplishment of the overall business objectives. This needs to be shown at the granular level with daily “to-do” lists for your staff, feedback, audit, and course correction.

Do not be too concerned about work processes

Today’s HR role is very predictable with defined processes and systems. It is important that instead of measuring work processes, you should set your sights on measuring outcomes and goals. For instance, you should focus on measuring training cost, return on investment in human capital, value added per employee, and return on training and seniority. These are true “results measurements” that will endear you to the top management.

Encourage people to drop by your cabin

If you are really indispensable if you are able to make your cabin a humdrum of activity, where people—ranging from the CEO to the graphic designer—drop by for advice or just general discussion. It is important to cultivate integrity and trust across the lines, as this will surely add to your weightage of your words.

Be good with data

Are you able to express your thoughts with data and study? This is very important for you to offer a substantial, intelligent opinion about business direction. If you have opinions, back them up with data. You need to understand the effect of decisions that you or your office makes.

Show ways for continuous improvement

As an evolving strategic leader, you should seek to continuously improve your skills and be able to recommend programmes for people to improve the business. Suggest programs or changes based on measurable objectives, and then make it a point to measure the changes and evaluate whether the new learning worked. Organisations welcome new systems and improvements that measurably improve the business.