Is Your Human Resources Organization Strategic or Transactional?

By Renée Robertson


Understanding your human resources organization, can also help you understand the climate and mood towards internal coaching – especially since many times they are the ones driving the programs. Please complete these questions to understand your HR organization’s strengths.


How would your clients, colleagues and manager describe your Human Resources team? Choose one of the following:

a- Strategic 

b- Transactional

c- Both

How would you characterize HR’s activity at client–staff meetings?

a- The focus is on providing talent solutions to business problems.

b- Human Resources results are reported (e.g., number of reviews completed) and/or updates are given on Human Resources activities that employees need to be doing.  

c- Both

How knowledgeable is your Human Resources contact about talent management programs with respect to succession planning, leadership and organizational development?

a- Extremely knowledgeable—I have a resource dedicated to talent development or my Human Resources personnel are well trained in these areas.

b- Some knowledge—I have/am a human resources generalist with some training in order to implement the process.

c- Not sure.


If you answered with the letter “a” across the three questions, this indicates that you (or your HR personnel) provide strategic thinking and true value to employees. This may be a great opening to engage them and secure their thoughts on implementing internal coaching.

If you answered with a “b” or “c” to any questions, you (or your HR personnel) have room to improve. I would encourage you to ask employees how they view the services and performance of Human Resources. What would they like to see more of? Less of? Is there anything they’d like done differently? Perhaps, together, you can go to your leadership and have a conversation about the future of talent in the company. Could this be an opportunity for an internal coaching program for human resources professionals?

Also, it may be time for you (or your HR personnel) to engage a coach to explore your career choice and/or enroll in some talent management and organizational development training programs. Consider having a conversation with your manager or Human Resources leadership about its charter in order to determine if the plan is to become more strategic. It is important to note that sometimes the business calls for a transactional Human Resources department and a coaching program just may not be in the cards.

I have been in situations where I’ve worked with strategic human resources leaders, and other times I’ve worked with transactional human resources leaders. Occasionally, there have been times when the individuals that I worked with excelled in both capacities. As a former Human Resources business partner, I can tell you this: my clients preferred my ability to be a strategic business partner, advisor and coach and they understood that there are some transactional components required. However, they much preferred that their business partner and managers accomplished the transactional exercises efficiently and allocated more time thinking strategically about their talent and their future. If this is the case for your situation, consider working with a coach to further develop your coaching capabilities, enroll in a coach training program or consider bringing coaching skills and an internal coaching program to your Human Resources organization.


For more information about becoming a coach or coaching for human resources professionals, please go to