What Does The C-Suite Want From HR?

I am a very lucky Human Resources professional. I began my career in the glamorous world of administration. I typed up timecards at a candy factory. I completed the VETS 100 and EE0-1 reports by hand. Yes, computers existed back in 1995. No, my employer saw no value in them.

After college, I moved into a world of recruiting and HR transformation. I earned my SPHR in 2001 and bought my SHRM mug. It has been my pleasure to work with amazing and talented CEOs, CIOs, and CHROs during the past fifteen years of my career.

I don’t have a secret window into the world of executive leadership, but I do have a strong opinion on what the C-Suite wants and — more importantly — doesn’t want from Human Resources, 

What are the core issues for the C-Suite? 

  1. Effective personnel management. No matter what you hear from your leadership team, your CEO wants the trains to run on time. You cannot have a conversation about innovation if your payroll systems are a mess and your facilities are falling apart. Personnel management is still a vibrant, important, relevant piece of the Human Resources portfolio. The act of working should never get in the way of doing great work. This is your number one priority.
  2. Risk-mitigation. Nobody likes lawyers or lawsuits; however, it is your job to make sure your company doesn’t find itself in court. You add no value as a Human Resources professional if you are focused on social media and employment branding but you ignore employee-related scenarios that could jeopardize the welfare of the company or its shareholders. It’s okay to slow things down and be a barrier to racism, sexism, and able-ism in your workforce.
  3. Proactive Recruiting. Your CEO is puzzled. Your company fills the same ten jobs every year. Why does a vacancy surprise your team? The best Human Resources departments create informal and inexpensive talent pipelines so that each new requisition isn’t a shock to the system and doesn’t require a sixty-day search. You don’t need expensive software to create a talent community. You need recruiters and HR professionals who stay in touch with viable candidates and continually look for new names. Take a lead from sales. You should always be closing whether there is an opening in your company or not.

And what are the least important issues to the C-Suite?

  1. Social media. I wouldn’t brag about being on Twitter because nobody in C-Suite cares.  Social media is a tool to solve a problem. It’s not a solution. And stop whining about the conservative culture in your organization. Your CEO will only care about Facebook when earnings and revenue can be tied to those social networking platforms. It’s your job to make the case. Get to work.
  2. Your lack of budget. There is no HR department in America that operates with an unlimited budget to accomplish its goals. Even the fattest financial institutions on Wall Street have placed constraints on their Human Resources departments. You lack budget? Big deal. Do without. Then produce a compelling argument that highlights what your competitors are doing and demonstrates the risk involved in ‘doing without’.
  3. Your murky, sketchy internal HR processes. I laugh when HR professionals craft a manifesto that is wholly ignored by an organization. If you want someone to do something – from performance management to compliance – your instructions better be easy, simple, and fewer than 1,000 words.

Personnel management, risk mitigation, and recruiting should operate under the zero defects philosophy. When your department can follow the right-first-time methodology of HR delivery, you will have earned the right to have a conversation with CEOs and CFOs about business performance, organizational transformation, and financial measurements.

Until that time, I would suggest you get back to work and make sure Sally down in logistics gets her paycheck on time. That’s it. Now get to work.

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