HR is continuing to make inroads in the leadership arena, but work is still needed. There is a renewed awareness that HR is a critical function of organizations. Boards are focusing on HR skills and holding CEOs accountable to be more aligned with their HR functions. CFOs have long been connected to HR, and that connection remains in 2016. Technology and globalizing are removing many competitive barriers – but human capital continues to differentiate the best businesses today.
Interesting data in a study by Harvey Nash shows that connections between HR and C-suite executives are a global issue. HR leaders in Europe, Asia and the U.S. alike feel that they are more aligned with the finance function than the CEO. Interesting in the study is the fact that there is near equal opinion that HR needs to be more involved in business, and that the business needs to be more involved in HR. So, what is the right answer?
Both sides of the table are right. As I often coach HR professionals, stop waiting to be invited to the table. Step up, start acting like a leader and take on the leadership role that is appropriate in your organization. At the same time, the leadership team needs to acknowledge that human capital is a critical component of their business success and stop excluding HR professionals from critical business conversations and initiatives. HR people can only support corporate growth and change if they understand the underlying issues that created the initiatives at the outset. Reading a memo about the strategic plan is not going to allow your HR team to be aligned with the strategic decisions – they need to be in the meetings to hear the passion and priorities as they are selected.
And...HR needs to step up. Stop talking about the company picnic and how difficult open enrollment is. That’s part of the job, and you’ve got to get it done every year! Instead, go to your leadership team with ideas that will impact the business! HR needs to be talking to their leadership teams about trends in workplace effectiveness, ways community activism can support corporate goals, organizational design changes that will impact the bottom line. As a member of the leadership team, HR should focus on change management and communicating the vision to the entire employee population in a way that will get all employees on board. These are just some of the areas that I explore in my book – Taking Your SEAT at the Table: Being a Strategic Executive who is Action Oriented and Technologically Savvy.
Having a long range vision of the future is a critical component of leadership. It’s not enough for HR to address situations as they arise. We have to know where the intersection of business trends and our organization are, and then plan to attack opportunities head on. Knowing what threats are on the horizon is equally critical as we develop strategic HR plans for the future.
Originally posted on the HR Topics Blog.