Guest blog by Norman Blissett, Gallanach
Your CEO has one thing on their mind all the time – the success of the company. It’s the thing they worry about endlessly, whether it’s measured by top or bottom line growth, shareholder value or social impact.
Too often HR creates problems that distract from that focus or wastes time on initiatives that don’t contribute to success. It could be poor admin processes slowing down recruitment and turning great candidates off, or advocating for issues that get in the way of company success. For example, the current obsession in HR about generational difference in the workplace when there’s little compelling evidence it even exists – it’s a fad, believe me.
If you really care about HR and how it is perceived by the CEO then you should focus on the things your CEO cares about most. Here’s how to get their attention:
Understand how people impact the top and bottom line and improve this.
First step is to work out the actions and behaviours of people that have the biggest impact on revenue and profit. You’ll need to do some research to work this out and don’t be afraid to look outside the company and at customers. If you could identify the people behaviours and actions your customers most value and develop these you are on to a winner.
Sometimes you might need to think laterally. For example there is huge scope to improve engagement and performance of people through combining digital technology and flexible working. The biggest barrier to this is the reluctance of many line managers to embrace it due to loss of control and lack of trust. Remove this barrier and you might have opened up big success. By the way – all ages want this, not just millennials – beware the fad!
Then put in place a beginning to end programme based on developing these people attributes and measure to ensure it is working. Remember the principal measures of success are revenue and profit, not programme outputs and positive feedback.
Create a winning culture
Culture eats strategy for breakfast, so the saying goes. Culture is largely defined by the often tangible but sometimes intangible actions and behaviours of people. If you don’t have the right attitudes and behaviours across your company, success will be elusive.
Spend time working out where the culture isn’t right and then change it. Usually this is either by enabling changes in individuals and teams or by exiting people. Remember this is not just about front line staff but also about managers.
There is a great piece of research by the Work Foundation that shows outstanding leaders achieve success through relentless focus on people, building deep trust and taking risks along the way. A winning culture will be driven by outstanding leaders doing just this so put them in place.
It’s a tough task and you may never achieve 100% success but you must try.
Stop people griping about HR
Imagine how relieved your CEO will be when people stop griping about HR. There is only one way of doing this and that is to remove the problems they complain about as much as you can.
Primarily this is about process and accessibility. Look at your processes and strive for excellence wherever possible. Try to avoid HR admin processes being viewed purely as a cost reduction pot. There is value in getting it working really well. Actively seek feedback on the frustrations and fix them.
HR should also be highly accessible to the company. People should be able to get the information they need really easily. When their issue is more complex they should be able to speak to HR when it suits them.
Get all this right and you’ll be left with the serial complainers. Then deal with them as they clearly detract from the winning culture!
Solve the difficult people problems
Most organisations will have difficult people issues that haven’t been successfully tackled and that get in the way of success. Your CEO will be aware of the biggest problems and worry about them. This could be problems like a very successful but dysfunctional team or difficulty in hiring quality people for key posts. There are numerous other examples. Whatever the problem, if you can fix it not only do you help the company succeed, you’ll remove a significant worry from your CEO.
To do this get a small team together to identify the biggest people problems and come up with solutions to fix them. Get a balance between quick wins and long term plans then crack on.
Don’t wait to be asked, just get on with it! Then watch as a fine romance between HR and the CEO flourishes….