Translating Strategy into Human Resource Policies: a case

An organizational change effort at the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (Einstein Medical) illustrates how companies translate strategies, plans, into human resource policies and practices. In the 1990s, it was apparent to Einstein’s new CEO that intense competition scientific technological changes, the growth of managed care (HMOs and PPOs) and significant cuts in Medical was a single acute care hospital treating the seriously ill.

New Strategy: The essence of the CEO’s new strategy was to change Einstein into a comprehensive health care network of facilities providing full range of high quality services in various local markets.

He knew that achieving this change in strategy would require numerous changes in Einstein Medical’s organization and employee behavior. In particular given the highly dynamic and uncertain health care environment, the new Einstein Medical would require a much more flexible, adaptable and professional approach to delivering services. Based on that, he decided to summarize the strategic goals of his change program in three words: initiate, adapt and deliver. To achieve Einstein Medical’s strategic aims, its HR and other strategies would have to help the medical center and its employees to produce new services (initiate) capitalize on opportunities (adapt) and offer consistently high quality services (deliver).

New Employee Competence and Behaviors: The CEO’s next question was what sort of employee competencies skills and behaviors would Einstein Medical need to produce these three outcomes? Working with the head of human resources the CEO chose four employee skills and behaviors: Einstein employees would need to be dedicated, accountable, generative and resilient. They would have to be dedicated to Einstein’s focus on initiate, adapt and deliver. They would have to take personal accountability for their results. They would have to be generative, which means able and willing to apply new knowledge and skills in a constant search for innovation solutions. And they would have to be resilient for instance, in terms of moving from job to job as the company’s needs changed.
New Human Resources Policies and Practices: Given these desired employee competencies and behavior, Einstein Medical’s human resource managers could ask what specific HR policies and practices would help Einstein create a dedicated accountable generative and resilient workforce an thereby help it to achieve its strategic goals? The answer was to implement several new human resource programs.

New training and communications programs aimed at assuring that employees clearly understood the company’s new vision and what it would require of all employees.

Enriching work involved providing employees with more challenge and responsibility through flexible assignments and team based work

New training and benefits programs promoted personal growth, which meant helping employees take personal responsibility for their own improvement and personal development.

Providing commensurate returns involved tying employees’ rewards to organizations wide results and providing non-monetary rewards (such as more challenging job).

Improved selection orientation and dismissal procedures also helped Einstein build a more dedicated resilient accountable and generative workforce.

Einstein’s managers translated the new strategy into specific human resource policies and practices. They knew they could not execute their new strategy without new employee competencies and behaviors. In turn, promoting these competencies and behaviors required implementing new human resources policies and practices. They could then choose measures (such as hours of training per employees per year) to monitor the new HR strategies actual progress.

Einstein Medical’s managers used a simple, logical and subjective process to translate strategy into required human resource policies and activities. This is perfectly acceptable. Increasingly, however, many companies are turning to a more rigorous methodology called The HR Scorecard Process.