Your Human Capital Footprint

What is your real contribution as strategic partner?

Are you a strategic partner? Have you designed the HR department to support the strategy? You have probably noticed the huge turnover amongst HR professionals in 2013. The traditional functionally focused HR professional has been replaced by colleagues with a sound business experience, often with an engineering background. The two introductory questions underpin their actions.

But how are you really doing? The following quiz should help you find some answers. Some of the questions, we realize, will feel strange. That’s intentional. To design the quiz I relied on a wide variety of information on HR developments, dialogues with CEOs, and projects we executed over the last year. So get ready: you will be able to calculate your HC Footprint in a matter of minutes. Only eleven questions to complete!  And if you wind up displeased with your score, don’t worry. You might have found a yet unidentified way to support the sustainable growth path of your company.

1. Which of the following can you honestly say is a true statement about the performance management approach in your company?

  1. No formal process exists.
  2. There is a system in place to define objectives for individual employees. Manager’s objectives resemble those of team members, yet are more ‘accumulative’.
  3. The performance process is integrated within the strategic business planning process. Goals are linked and cascaded, with distinct levels of contribution and differentiated performance periods.

2. In trying to hire an innovative employee, which of the following sequences of words describes the quality you look for

  1. Competent, achievement driven, efficiency.
  2. Sharing, listening, playful, self actualizing.
  3. Wise, systems thinker, community shaper.

3. Which of the following performance indicators truly focus your attention?

  1. Net income/FTE or Ebit/FTE (or other measure of average employee profitability and/or return.
  2. Hiring effectiveness (Time to productivity for critical roles).
  3. Status of HR projects (e.g. building compentency framework, status engagement project, …).

4. Which of the following statements truly describe your accountability towards change?

  1. I consider change as a planned process. It requires a clear direction, breaking down the challenge in a number of milestones, a variety of tools and a project management of reorganizations and change projects.
  2. I consider change as being part of my companies DNA (culture and structure). My accountability is to ensure that the proper feedback cycles are in place. As HR manager I manage the interdependencies between the different change programs.

5. Every day you take a walk outdoors. You carry with you a notebook and pencil. After a month, your notebook is most likely to be filled with

  1. Thoughts and opinions
  2. Several “to-do” lists
  3. Business questions to ask in meetings with senior management

6. Below are four statements. Number each statement 1, 2, or 3, depending on how the statement reflects your practice: “3” means the statement fully describes your current approach,  and “1” means the statement is not part of your current practice.

  1. Change is considered as being part of the companies DNA (culture and structure). It builds on accountabilities and decision making of every employee and a wide range of feedback cycles. A sound program management facilitates the change processes.
  2. Reward systems are based on unique contribution. Focus on external and internal fairness (felt fair pay multiplier).
  3. HR focuses on reducing strategy implementation risks
  4. Leadership development programs focus on quality of decision making and transformation of consciousness.

7. Which of the following indicators are currently used to evaluate the effectiveness of HR operations?

  1. HR FTE Ratio (number of FTE employees that each HR FTE supports in the organization).
  2. Satisfaction with HR services expressed by managers/employees (survey).
  3. Degree of (internal/external) alignment of HR deliverables with strategy.

8. Below are four statements. Pick maximum two statements that are true for you.

  1. In conversation, I frequently use the words “totally,” “always,” “must,” “never,” and “absolutely”.
  2. I frequently end conversations with an unanswered question.
  3. I frequently use the words “maybe,” “perhaps,” “depends,” “sometimes,” and “relatively”.
  4. I frequently end conversations with a definitive statement.

9. Which of the following can you honestly say is a true statement about the talent management approach in your company?

  1. Talent decisions (hiring, development …) are focused on detecting and building individual competence for present and future jobs: ‘competencies’ and ‘skills’ are key elements.
  2. The talent management process is integrated with the strategic business planning process. The organization’s strategic business plan is the primary source for identifying and executing the talent management agenda.

10. Which of the following engagement indicators is getting most of your current attention?

  1. Absenteeism (Bradford factor).
  2. Employee engagement level.
  3. Projected impact level of engagement increase to margin increase.
  4. Alignment of company experience between employees, customers, and suppliers.

11. Below are four statements. Number each statement 1, 2, or 3, depending on the statement reflects your practice: “3” means the statement fully describes the current approach, and “1” means the statement is not part of your current practice.

  1. HR communication approach is embedded in a comprehensive culture building strategy.
  2. HR is accountable for achieving competitive advantage through its human capital strategy. Focus on facilitating transversal processes and workforce analytics.
  3. Focus on creation of unique and intense employee experience, reinforcing connection with and working toward a shared purpose.
  4. HR defines how the interplay of roles and capabilities is conceived and how the work can be adapted to changing opportunities.

Compute your final score based on the answer key provided below. For a thorough explanation of each question and answer, and a full bibliography of sources, contact He will send you his thought leader article: Building Blocks of A New HR Operating Model.

1c – Two points
2c – One point
3a – Two points
4b – Two points
5c – One point
6 – Add up the numbers you gave to each statement. Divide the total by two. That’s how many points you get
7c – Two points
8 – If you picked a — give yourself 0 points; b — 1 point; c — 1 points; d — subtract a point from your total
9b – Two points
10d – Two points, 10c – One point
11 – Add up the numbers you gave to each statement. Divide the total by two. That’s how many points you get

Your score:

>18 → Integrated Strategic HC Footprint: Congratulations, your approach corresponds with human capital practices in sustainable growth companies. You are an active partner in devising strategy, facilitating innovation (&business model shifts) and enhancing the quality of decision making processes.  You translate business strategies first into organizational structure and value streams and then into  practices. You are focusing on reducing strategy implementation risks. Make no mistake, you have real impact, making the organization a better place to work in.

12–18 → Intermediate Explorers HC Footprint: You are passionate about HR and are launching a lot of promising projects. Your CEO will probably appreciate your efforts to build an integrated HR. However, it is unlikely (s)he will consider you as a real strategic partner. (S)He experiences your approach as focused on the basics, but lacking the real alignment between strategy, structure and processes. You are focusing on efficiency and effectiveness of current processes and HR solutions. But you are also not exactly the eyes-on-the-road, hands-on-the-wheel type either. Your dream remains making strategy happen and making sure HR strategies are aligned with business strategy.

<12 → Still to discover your HC footprint: Is there anything more annoying than using the title business partner to justify the fire fighting and ad hoc approach you seem to be forced to follow? Sure, HR needs to be developed and this incremental process takes a lot of time (given senior management being too focused on the short term to see the full benefits of an integrated HC approach). It is also hard to see where, how and when projects could be launched. So let’s stick to the toolkit and copy some best practices. At least you can try to harvest some low hanging fruit. Your big challenge might be to change your thinking about human resources.

For explanations of the answers behind the questions, please contact Jan De Visch (  As Managing Director of Connect & Transform and Executive professor at Flanders Business School (Catholic University Leuven) he is researching emerging human capital practices in sustainable growth companies. Connect & Transform excels in developing and implementing innovative human capital practices.