The drafting of a procedure involves many heated debates and discussions within a company that wants to frame and coordinate the work of its departments.

In many situations, the word procedure is missing from the professional and cultural vocabulary of entrepreneurs for understandable reasons. It is complex to draft and often does not even understand the meaning and usefulness of the existence of such documents.

But what is a procedure after all? What’s it for?

A procedure is a document that describes how to perform an activity or process. A procedure must meet the company’s requirements and create the conditions for an efficient application.

A procedure ensures a standard mode of operation throughout the organization, as well as a consistent result for a given operation. It defines and distributes responsibilities for specific tasks. In short, it should allow the answer to the question: who does what?

To do this, two conditions must be met:

–         Background : the content of the information must be adequate, relevant and sufficient,

–         Form: contributes to the correct understanding of the information and, therefore, to the implementation of the procedure. The form also participates in the management of the procedure (identification, development, distribution, review, etc.).

Think of your favorite cake. To make it you need ingredients and a recipe. Ingredients you get from the store and the recipe from grandma or the internet. But there are so many combinations, you only choose one that suits your taste best.

That’s how a procedure can be viewed. Adapted and tailored according to the characteristics of your business, the operating mechanisms. You’ll never find the same procedure at x firms.

Qualities of a procedure

Below you have the most relevant qualities of a procedure:

–         USEFUL to ensure the implementation of the principles and requirements of the various  standards applicable in the specific context of the organization,

–         PRECISE In content and form,

–         COMPLETE in compliance with the “necessary and sufficient” condition,

–         COMPATIBLE with other company documents (manual, other procedures, instructions, etc.) and other management systems,


–         CONTROLLABLE in its implementation.

Content of a procedure (Who, What, When, How)

A procedure must respond to a need and not the other way around. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the needs and adapt the form and content of the document to the recipients and users of the procedure.

A procedure must define who should do what and refer to HOW to do it (specific instructions, modus operandi, etc.). The procedure also provides information about a temporal notion by defining the sequence of tasks and activities (when).

To describe these aspects, the organization chart seems to be the most appropriate and easy to understand form.

The procedure can take several forms: plain text, organization chart, computer graphics, images, sound or video recording. In addition, the vocabulary varies! The term procedure is sometimes replaced by that of “protocol” in the medical field or with “modus operandi”.

But be careful, avoid the factory… of Words! It is useful to describe the procedures to ensure the successful completion of certain activities. For example, cross-sectional procedures which involve several departments, those for which incidents have occurred, those that have a direct impact on customers, those with high staff turnover, etc.

Now, returning to our subject, within a company, the human resources department takes a series of actions to accompany the development of human capital and optimize it according to the needs of society. Example: recruiting an employee, receiving a new employee, managing training, managing absences, managing holidays, evaluating employees, managing terminations, etc.

In order for these activities to take place in the best conditions, the procedures will formalize the way of doing things.

An efficient human resources process is therefore a process capable of: … providing the necessary human resources by training staff or recruiting new employees, evaluating the efficiency of actions taken, involving each employee in achieving quality objectives.

But you’re probably wondering: are we talking about procedures or processes? what is the difference between the two?

If the definitions of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which brings together 165 member countries, are followed, the process corresponds to “a set of interrelated or interactive activities that turn inputs into results”. Regarding the procedure, it describes “the specific way of carrying out an activity or a process”. It’s not obvious yet, is it? To simplify, let’s take a familiar example: baking a chocolate cake. The process is the action of making the cake and the procedure is the recipe for preparing the cake.

Why are HR processes important?

Talent requirements have changed.

Employees have shifted their expectations.

Companies are now facing unprecedented competition, and the war for talent is one of the pillars of success … if not the main one.

But in order to provide an attractive or even an ideal environment for employees, HR cannot continue its work as before.

Companies need to identify their human resource processes, map them and optimize them. These are essential for the integration of every manager and employee in the management of the organization.

It is also essential to design them collaboratively to make them truly effective (we return to this at the end of the article).

Previously seen as a barrier to business development, human resource processes are being adopted at an accelerating rate. So, how are you doing …?

Defining the human resources processes makes it possible to distinguish the activities that are the responsibility of the human resources department from those supported by the management. It also helps to get an overview of the different stages of the company’s journey within the company and to clarify the company’s culture in terms of human resource management.

In practice and in literature, two main trends can be identified:

  • Human Resources Department as a service and counseling center: This is the most modern and demanding version of the employees of this department. This is to advise and support the line  managers  in managing its staff. HRD is a true “business partner” of the company. He/she supports the company in developing its strategy and business plan.
  • Human Resources Department as a “supermarket” and logistical support for the production line: The human resources department takes orders from  the line managers  and executes them. They do not participate in the development of recruitment profiles, do not intervene in the evaluation phase of employees and are not consulted on development issues. In other words, its function is to manage a back office.

In the first case, the human resources department is the vehicle of the corporate culture and it often happens to be endowed with a veto right in front of  line managers decisions that would contravene this culture.

The second version is found mainly in large structures, very centralized or organized on product lines – or in very small structures in which the boss “reigns supreme”.

Let’s talk about INSTRUMENTS.

The definition of human resources processes mainly uses the following two tools:

Catalog of activities related to human resources management in the company: The purpose of such a catalog is to list all the activities related to human resources management in the company. This step is preliminary to assigning human resource roles.

Human resources management skills grid: The purpose of the skills grid is to assign tasks to different participants in human resources processes, regardless of the importance given to the human resources function.

Remember that this distribution will depend on the mission of the human resources department (drafting guide), therefore on the role played by the human resources function in the company.

But what would be the steps in establishing the processes?

  1. Inventory of human resources activities: the first step in defining the organization of human resources processes is to list all the activities that you think fall within the field of human resources management in your company, without worrying about the distribution of these tasks. Once the tasks are listed, sort them into a catalog of modules (or “activity families”) of the human resources process.

To do this, you can use this example, modeled on a multinational structure, but it can be easily adapted to the HRD responsibilities of an SME.

  1.  Defining the human resources process : Secondly, it can be interesting to draw the complete human resources process of your company. This can – and should – be modeled on the steps an employee follows in the company, from the first contacts with the recruiter to his or her exit (including his or her commitment, development, training or promotion). This process is always influenced by the company’s strategy. The resource table allows you to adapt a typical example of a human resources process (illustration) to the reality of your organization.
  2.  Allocation of human resources management responsibilities: regardless of the importance assigned to the HR function, it will then be essential to clarify the areas of competence of the various participants in the human resources process. The development of a competency grid in the human resources process (example bellow), can be very helpful in the development of the human resources process of a company.

It should be noted that this distribution will depend on the culture of each company. Thus, while the acquisition phase is generally similar – with a few differences – in terms of HR marketing methods, companies tend to differ mainly in terms of coaching and employee development.

  1. Implementation of the human resources process: Once the activities related to human resources management have been defined and the skills have been allocated, it remains to proceed with the implementation of the process. With the defined abilities and flows, the organizational chart of the Human Resources Department can be drawn and the descriptions of the corresponding positions can be written. The final step of the new human resources process takes the form of staff regulations.

Reading flow charts allows the external observer to detect the importance given to human resources. Thus, an HR function directly subordinated to the highest echelon of the hierarchy (CEO) indicates the primacy granted to staff. The other extreme is not having a human resources department at all …

What implications would corporate culture have for human resource management?

An examination of the distribution of tasks between management and the Human Resources Department thus provides a good idea of ​​corporate culture:

Such a culture marked by maximum employee involvement will organize human resources in such a way that the direct supervisor takes over the role of “coach”. This means that the Human Resources department will act as a “facilitator” for the line managers.

On the other hand, a performance-oriented business will tend to exempt its managers from all advisory and assistance functions in favor of complete customer  orientation. In this case, the Human Resources department will take the lead in employee management and development. This may be flattering to the human resources department in terms of power, but it will completely disappoint line managers who will not be partners in terms of employee development.

As I said before, the best solution will depend on the company’s values, mission and strategy.

Mapping your processes, where to start?

Understanding the interests of cartography

There are a number of advantages to mapping your processes. Remember the most important:

– Represents an inventory of human resource processes and those to be optimized,

– Improves the dialogue between the human resources department and the company’s business lines,

– Creates a positive dynamic in the organization,

– Initiates change and gives a vision of the future by anticipation.

Mapping: good practices 😉

First of all, the ideal is to refer to all human resources processes on a single document.

From their inventory to their overall and functional vision, including the identification of human resource processes to be optimized, the aim is completeness.

Specifically, it all starts with the company’s strategy and objectives. Each action will therefore serve the latter.

This is how it becomes possible to collect information internally.

Specifically, you must:

– Ask employees about their actions in the field of human resources,

– Respect daily processes,

– Collect documents (forms, templates, etc.),

– Analyze the organization of different teams.

All this should help you to explicitly establish the mutual tasks and the connections between them.

Second, it harmonizes HR and managerial practices.

Your work becomes easier and the integration and communication of new processes become faster.

Don’t forget the agility of the process.

Agility should be a priority when creating any human resources process. Today it is inconceivable to imagine the opposite: lack of agility would certainly cause delays or blockages in the medium term.

If human resource processes are not agile in their construction, they risk stiffening the functioning of the entire company … which is exactly the opposite effect of what is sought.

Co-built to not impose.

Moreover, these processes cannot be defined only by management, in a traditional top-down logic. The “bottom-up” approach is more appropriate: starting from the ground, it is based on employees’ expectations.

Indeed, you need to develop your human resource processes in a logic of co-construction. Their internal taxation will have a counterproductive effect …

How do you get an employee to join an action if he/she was not invited to participate in its development?

What processes and procedures do you have in your business? Write in the comments and we will communicate our opinion.

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