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HR – getting a “seat at the table”

23 Oct

It’s no secret that there are top business leaders that do not always realize the full value that Human Resources leaders can add in business.  It’s often a challenge for HR professionals to “push” people programs forward as business priorities.  However, I truly believe that in fact, CEOs and Presidents actually do value HR, they just don’t realize it.  It’s our job to educate them.  It takes tenacity, patience, passion and endurance – but in my experience, you can get there.  Here are a few of the tactics that have worked for me in the past.

Know the business!

I can’t say this enough.  You need to be able to talk in terms of the metrics your industry and company uses.  Do they talk about basket size, same store sales, EBITDA, sales per labour hour, etc?  Make sure you know what the financial terms mean, look at them often, and participate in discussions about them.  Aim your HR programs at improving key business metrics so that you can truly measure and prove your value.

Keep up on industry trends.  Read industry publications, subscribe to blogs/twitter accounts etc of leaders in your industry.  Share articles (or at least highlights of them) that have relevance to what your company is going through with your CEO, Finance and Ops leaders and your HR team.  Encourage your HR team to do the same.

Know what is keeping your CEO up at night.

Let’s face it – no matter what your position / function, your boss’s priorities become yours.  Ask your CEO probing questions that force him/her to think about root causes of the issues facing the company.  A few examples that I’ve used: “When did this change?”  “What might be driving this?”  “What discussions have you had with ____ about that?”  “How much impact do you think that is having on (key metric)?”  “What would success look like in this situation?”  And of course “How can I help with this?” 

In my experience, the root cause of most issues facing corporations have to do with people and their skills, knowledge, or attitude.  By having meaningful discussions with your CEO, he too will realize this, and then you can truly start to add value by focusing your team on programs that enable the capability of people to overcome the key issues.

Ally with other leaders.

Who does your CEO count on to help with business decisions?  Get to know that person.  Focus on adding value to their part of the business, so that they can influence your CEO to see the value you can add.  You may even have to come out and ask for support, once you’ve gained the trust and support of this team member. 

Once you become thought of as a business partner, you can truly add value and find additional meaning in your role. 

These are just a few of the methods I’ve tried – what have you done that has worked?

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Posted by on October 23, 2010 in Human Resources, Leadership

 

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