How HR Directors Can 'Wow' Underappreciating Executives

How HR Directors Can 'Wow' Underappreciating Executives

Posted by Jada Jacobs on 8/26/16 11:21 AM
Jada Jacobs
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Posted on: August 26, 2016

Great HR professionals know their value. In some cases, their own executive teams may need help seeing it. When HR finally gets a seat at the executive table, much is said in the confused looks directed at them. Some may think...

“Who invited HR? They just do the hiring, firing and paperwork. How are they supposed to add to our bottom line?"

Having doubters among management is hard enough, but the hardest thing of all is when your value goes unnoticed.

When the rest of the business doesn’t see or appreciate the contributions from the HR department, it can be hard to move your business forward. It may also be a sign that culture problems are growing within the organization.

By initiating a dialogue that educates executive leadership on the value of human resources and collaborating with them to build an effective “people strategy,” HR managers help businesses can help create lasting growth while finally winning the appreciation they deserve.

Learn to Think Like an Executive

As a human resources director, making your seat at the table count can be a challenge. The biggest hurdle is often getting executives to understand not only the solutions HR offers, but also to get them to accept the challenges they face as their growing businesses become small enterprises.

It begins with empathy. You can’t expect to change anyone’s mind about HR if you don’t take the time to understand how they think.

Although most are great with people, many successful leaders have surprisingly little exposure to human resources. Many build their business themselves, hire staff one by one and play the central role in building their cultures. As the business grows, however, the process can get watered down. Hiring shifts to managers and the culture they’ve worked so hard to build doesn’t get passed down the line.

RELATED: Hiring the Right Talent

And now that the human resources department is sitting at the table, they look at you and think:

Things aren’t how they used to be. So many new seats, so many faces coming and going. Productivity has dipped, customers are complaining, employees aren’t happy, margins are disappearing. And now all this administration, all this compliance . . . .

What’s the point of all this growth if we can’t even control what we’re growing into?

And here comes the HR director demanding we cut into revenue even more.

But HR, of course, contributes to the same revenue goals as any department. As the HR director, it’s your job to make business leaders understand how.

  1. Start With Revenue
    Bad hiring and high turnover are profit killers. Replacement and training costs are already high. They’re even higher when you consider lost productivity, workload sharing, and the fact that each quit or termination will likely lead to more.

    Calculate and present those losses to your organization. Show them what could be saved if the bleeding was stanched. Don’t be afraid of bring up bad news. Even if they cringe, you’ll show everyone around the table that you share their main concern.
  1. Vividly Describe What You Do
    Those who see HR merely as a place where the nitty-gritty gets done may think it a banal discipline. Sure, you’re in charge of a thousand-and-one little tasks, but do they even know how you fit into the big business scheme?

    Before you jump into a hundred-slide presentation defending what you do, try a little vivid imagery.

    Like this:

    When it comes to growing your business, you’ve gotten used to pushing the boat yourself. But using your HR department to execute a personnel strategy is like building yourself an engine.

    Without HR, you’re just a big boat floating on the current. Help us build the right engine, and we can use it to take your business wherever you’d like it to go.
  1. Identify the Big Problem and Offer the Solution
    Eventually business leaders find that what worked during their first few phases of growth doesn’t beyond a certain size. Once they grow too big they can’t get as much from their employees. They find it hard to retain good people.

    It may be a culture problem. When things were small, leaders could keep an eye on everything and be seen by everyone. Now that they’ve grown, the business itself must do more of the stewarding. Without a good HR strategy created together with the executive team, cultural fragmentation inevitably creates personnel problems.

    Investing in a real HR strategy helps businesses scale beyond the point of diminishing returns. Through processes and policies, the influence of senior leaders is once again carried forward.

    Human resources teams become ambassadors of company culture, facilitating communication between employees and organizational leaders, which helps maintain a positive work environment as companies grow.

Smiles Around the Table

Human resources deserves the appreciation of executive staff. If you don’t have it, it’s probably a sign that you’re not on the same page as the company’s other leaders.

It takes convincing. Directors must quantify losses and estimate gains that prove to senior leadership that HR is good for much more than cutting checks, pushing paper and handling the occasional complaint.

RELATED: ‘The Golden Rule’ Still Applies When Managing Talent

Show them how recruiting and engagement may have gone off the rails, offer analysis and strategy to get it rolling once again, and convince them that bridging the gaps between employees and leadership isn’t just a nice thing to do, it can add more revenue to the bottom line than they ever knew was possible.

Topics: Human Resources, Leadership

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