HR Director to CEO in 10 Steps: Part 2 of 2 – Go for business impact

The Straits Times
Published: 26 Sept 2013
By Ronald Lee, Managing Director, PrimeStaff Management Services

Get your work in HR noticed by your CEO and his high-level peers

6. Be a cash cow, not cost-centre

HR has never been regarded as a profit-centre and probably never will in the traditional sense. While it is true that the department does not bring in sales directly, you can certainly make a business case of the strategic value and impact that HR has on the company’s bottom line.

For a start, HR is responsible for recruiting the best and brightest talent out there, including the sales stars who drive the company’s growth.

You should also demonstrate a desire to help the company cut costs, such as acquiring technology to automate administrative processes and eliminate manual work.

This would also free up the HR department’s time to focus on more strategic items like developing effective employee engagement programmes that help to raise productivity (bring in more money) and increase staff retention (spend less money on new hires).

Ultimately, you want to show how your department can manage and motivate workers to turn in their best performance for the company. Do this by volunteering to give result presentations to key managers, as well as getting HR economic results published in all important company-wide financial reports so everyone can see the business impact of your work.


7. Be the breeding ground for top talent

Make your department the talent launch pad where the company’s best employees start and develop. As in professional sports, everyone is impressed with the coach that can recruit and develop top talent.

So hire the best talent that will enable your department to do its best work, develop them faster and to a higher level than others, then create a talent pipeline and release them to the C-level offices. This will position HR as the department that “star” employees must pass through on their way to the top, and word will spread about how good you are at identifying and developing talent.


8. Collect customer and competitor intelligence

CEOs love their customers because they know that there would be no profit without them. So even if you are in HR and not customer service, it is important for you to demonstrate an appreciation of customers’ needs.

Be bold and venture outside your jurisdiction by offering ideas on product innovation, ways to generate sales and how to improve customer service.

Your CEO is also likely to be obsessed about what your company’s competitors are doing. Be proactive and find out what the market leaders are up to and share these with your CEO. Being at the forefront of such competitor intelligence, especially sensitive or confidential information, will put you in good stead with your CEO. Covering “blind spots” he may have will aid his strategic planning and earn you his respect.


9. Sell with zeal

We get it that if you loved to sell, you would probably be in the sales or marketing department. You are in HR because of your passion for developing people. But almost everything in life is a sales transaction of sorts, from selling yourself as a job candidate to pitching the benefits of eating vegetables to your five-year-old. So hone your sales skills – they will come in handy for selling a job to top talent or your ideas to top management.


10. Be an HR star

Position yourself as an individual who is impressive and exciting by building your individual “brand” on external platforms – get written about in the company newsletter or in media stories, demonstrate your thought leadership in opinion articles published in trade magazines, apply for industry awards, and develop ways to enhance employer branding so that your organisation will be recognised as a great place to work.

These serve to showcase the value you create in a very visible manner and will help you get noticed by your CEO and his high-level peers.

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