All Articles Leadership #ASTD2011: How Hyundai links HR to operational performance

#ASTD2011: How Hyundai links HR to operational performance

3 min read


As a human resources professional, I’m constantly reading articles about a need for the HR function to bring direct value to an operation. At the American Society for Training & Development’s 2011 International Conference & Exposition, a team from Hyundai Kia Automotive Group shared how it transformed its HR development practices into direct results.

According to Hyundai Motor, its mission is to create value and growth for stakeholders through eco-friendly management and respect for mankind. Within HR, the goal is to develop globally competitive talent that shares the company’s mission.

This year’s HR initiatives have a centralized theme to support and contribute to the global operation. Specific directions include building a boundary-free corporate culture as well as establishing a corporate learning hub to fill the talent pipeline. “The HRD Center should be a tool to help the organization achieve its strategic objectives,” Senior Executive Vice President Seong C. Lee said. “Thus, HRD programs must be linked to our business performance.”

To address business-performance issues, Hyundai decided to take a performance-consulting approach. The HR team developed a series of initial questions to ask when approached by an internal customer unit.

  • Do our training programs actually contribute to improving performance?
  • Are there ways of improving performance beyond the use of training?
  • Can our training programs be made more efficient and effective?
  • Can we document the impact of our work on the organization?

To learn the principles of performance consulting, Hyundai used a pilot group before full implementation. Over one year, the program encompassed multiple interventions and training programs. Some of the nontraining interventions were communications strategies, policy development and customer-feedback surveys. Training curriculum focused on the components of human performance technology, a field of study that combines economics, psychology, organizational behavior and systems theory to improve performance.

Ohio State University supplied the performance-consulting model used by Hyundai.

  1. Pre-entry
  2. Entry and contracting
  3. Analysis and planning
  4. Design and implementation
  5. Evaluation
  6. Project closing
  7. Project learnings

As Hyundai’s educational partner, Ohio State University emphasized a need for proper contracting, such as setting expectations for all stakeholders, and reminded the audience that contracting should take place even with internal partnerships. The school also stressed the importance of analysis. It’s often overlooked because we might have an inclination to believe we know the problem and an anxiousness to take immediate action. Analysis is a critical step that should not be sidestepped.

Project learnings were highlighted as an essential wrap-up to every performance-consulting project. Being able to document lessons learned can prove valuable for future situations. Understanding project learnings can change HR focus from reactive to proactive – if you know what you’re looking for.

One of the most difficult aspects to the program was getting participants to recognize that organizations can be viewed as systems. Hence, using systems theory to fix organizational problems makes perfect sense.

Finally, the pilot group was tasked with reporting results for solutions they consulted and recommended. This created HR accountability to the operation, helping to justify implementation of the performance-consulting model.

Hyundai shared this approach, which has been well received within the organization and resulted in better recognition of HR as a business partner as well as increased satisfaction in organizational problem solving.