CEOs Need More Than Naysayers

At the recent annual conference of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources, one message came through loud and clear. Repeated by multiple speakers, the concept was uttered best by Jon Love, former president of Pitney Bowes Government Solutions.
“I don’t need the HR police,” Love said. 
What CEOs and other top business leaders want—and need—from the HR professionals in their organizations are solutions to problems. Telling the C-suite why they can’t do something isn’t helping the company, according to business leaders at the conference. 
“If you show up as a naysayer, you’ve lost the battle,” said Artell Smith, global head of HR, Aon Hewitt. Most business leaders can think of why they shouldn’t do something, Smith added. Don’t say no without offering alternative solutions. 
Center your discussions on the business—not what HR “allows” you to do. Solutions are more appreciated than constant negative feedback, speakers said. 
Learn the ins and outs of your company, how it turns a profit, who the biggest competitor is, what the goals are and where the risks lie. Then apply your HR expertise to help other company leaders solve problems, said Debbie Pollock-Berry, senior vice president of HR and chief human resources officer, XO Holdings.
“I want HR to be a business driver, not a business partner,” she said. “Understand how your organization makes money. If you don’t contribute to the revenue, you’re not a benefit to the organization.”
In the end, collaboration is the key to success, Love told the conference attendees: “Sit side by side with me, understand the real issues, get the talent in place and inspire and motivate them.”

Beth Mirza is senior editor for HR News. She reports on Business Leadership, Safety & Security and other HR issues. Prior to coming to SHRM in 2001, Beth worked for community newspapers in Northern Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @SHRMBethMirza

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