Jennifer MClure at ACE 2015

HR, get the C-suite’s attention by keeping the bottom line in mind

Today’s HR professionals should think of themselves as business leaders who happen to work in human resources. When they behave that way, they will be perceived that way by the C-suite, according to Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC.

McClure spoke at Achievers Customer Experience 2015 about “Getting the C-Suite’s Attention: 7 Strategies for Transforming from HR Leader to Business Leader.” For the past three years, CEOs have listed Human Capital as their number-one challenge, and they look to human resources to help them overcome that challenge. HR leaders must learn to speak to business executives in terms of strategic direction, planning, problem solving and – more than anything else – in terms of money and finances.

McClure outlined seven areas in which an HR leader must transform the way they’re thinking and the way they’re positioning their work. She said that to evolve into a respected business leader, an HR leader must first overcome the fact that data used for workforce planning (absenteeism, retention, etc.) is historical. It’s critical that HR leaders start looking forward, by understanding what needs you have today so that you can project what you’ll need tomorrow. It also is essential for an HR leader to understand which current employees hold institutional knowledge or could actually hurt the business if they left the organization.

Regardless of what industry you are practicing human resources in, McClure says that the “The War for Talent,” coined by McKinsey years ago, is still relevant today. Candidates today are in the driver’s seat, and organizations are in a position where they may be trying to “sell” their organization to people they may not have hired in the past. In fact, McKinsey also predicted a shortfall of up to 18 million skilled workers over the next 5 years, making it even harder for organizations to fill essential roles today and tomorrow.

HR leaders must be able to present human capital “problems” to CEOs with solutions in mind. Be prepared to present data and sell workforce planning and human capital ideas based on how they will help the business and support business strategy. Remembering to speak like a business leader – in terms of dollars and cents and the impact on the bottom line – will help any HR professional.

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