Traditional HR vs Strategic HR

The much talked about spine of any industry is its human resource management.  The growth and simultaneous change in industrial practices, has given rise to the debate on traditional versus Strategic HR. ‘Let’s go by the book’ is the Traditional HR practice while changing the rulebook with each experience is what the Strategic HR does.  There is no hard line on which one is better, with each one of having its own advantages. The younger breed of managers naturally believes in the latter while the about to retire lot still goes with traditional format of HR practices. Let’s have an insight marking major differences between the two and trying hard to bring something substantial to surface.

The focal points of both the practices are different. While Strategic HR focuses on internal and external relationships, traditional HR focuses on employee relationships. Strategic HR believes in understanding the factors that affect the people of an industry. Since it is better to analyze people and not their relationships, traditional HR loses a point here. Systematic approach suggests that all levels of management must work cooperatively, and when myriad factors are considered peace is observed at all levels.

Another big difference is that Strategic HR is a leader which brings a change while Traditional HR is a follower. Former is transformational which initiates changes while latter is transactional and is a mere respondent to a change. Strategic HR helps employees to adopt changes and initiate faster learning in pace with the changing technology. Both the above conditions are fruitful depending upon your situation and the canceling of the argument.

When talking in terms of control, traditional HR practice exercises strict control over the employees while opposite to it Strategic HR exhibits leniency. Traditional HR goes completely by the book while Strategic HR makes use of any control mechanism that is helpful in generating results. Traditional HR is always involved in policy making procedures or bureaucratic approach while Strategic HR focuses on mingling with the employees for better outputs. Strategic HR practices emphasize on free flow of work without any bindings. Contrary to this, Traditional HR has cage like format in which employees are bounded by strict regulations.  This practice is abandoned in today’s competitive era. You need to change every moment and be flexible enough for better results and productivity.

Talking in terms of job design, Strategic HR loves to cross train people while Traditional HR believes in specialization. The current format in Strategic HR practices team work against the individualism promoted by Traditional HR. Strategic HR believes in making each level autonomous reducing the dependency while Traditional HR believes in individual expertise. Though both the formats are correct pertaining to the time of their origin but undoubtedly, with growing demand for talent oriented HR, Strategic HR wins the game.

However, it would be wrong to say that Traditional HR does not focus on people. It focuses on people but definitely does not count them as investments. On the contrary is STRATEGIC HR, which understands the value of its employees and believes that if company invests on retention with knowledge base it is bound to hit the rivals hard. Traditional HR focuses on capital investments made on the employed work force while Strategic HR asks to invest on employees who can make use of companies’ resources in order to maximize the returns. Both the practices are necessary on their part but owing to the current competitive scenario, Strategic HR slightly scores high.

Traditional HR practice suggests that only people who are specialists in human resources are HR managers while Strategic HR practice believes that anyone who works for the cause of the people in the organization should be treated as na HR manager. This act provides respect for the person who is informally awarded for the work, keeping in mind that this act will work as motivation for other employees. Traditional HR is good till it says that the specialist should be designated as HR managers but when it comes to ‘only’ specialists it is bound to face criticism.

Trying hard for some substance, we can conclude that Traditional HR undoubtedly was good, but better has now arrived. With flexible policies, emphasis on employee satisfaction and building better relationships with customers, Strategic HR has overshadowed by traditional HR.

  • Saif

    Really helpful information…defeinetly from today onwards my seeing of HR dept change a lot..hope to find more new information soon…with regards and best wishes… Saif Ali Sharhan…Guwahati.

  • Vasanth A

    Nice to hear that , the strategic hr as much better than the traditional hr as any organisation for its improvement.

  • lots of comparison.

  • Kuna38

    very good comparison. thank you

  • Maj Bksharma

    Guys don’t fall for the word play. Humans ,unlike technology have not changed in at least during known human history. There is no flavour of the month new HR fad. Basics remain the same. What has changed is awareness of industry captains that employees needed to be treated with more care. But sadly most of the HR managers still are willing tools to be handymen of senior management even in reputed companies. Thus they not only do disservice to themselve and employees, they also harm the interests of owners/senior management. People don’t need to be managed they need to be led and led honestly. 

  • Raj Puni

    Dear Sir,

    Really educative. Gives HR practitioners a food for thought and impetus to implement the HR policies accordingly.

    Col Puni

  • Maj B K Sharma

    Dear Sir,
    Thanks for the comments. Glad that you are dedicating you life to pass on essence of HR management to youngsters. Future H R managers must be educated about their own importance  in the organisation. Human resources are the only resorces which are free from limitations. This resource can be stretched and has no limits, The employee give their best when they want to. No amount of fear or incentive can make them give more than MINIMUM that can be mandated by regulations. But to really effective as HR manager s(he) must know he(r) trade well.   And that is what you do. Hats of to u sir.

  • S Jagmeetk

    Dear Sir

     Very informative. You  has a very good style and is willing to take the
    time to      explain things. I took away some useful tips + the printed
    supporting info is useful to refer to in the future.

  • Eky Hs

    Nice to read & really educative,  thank you ..

  • O P Tiwari

    NIce diffrentiation. hope for more relevant topic regarding facing difficulties by HR manager in indian industires.