Tuesday, March 14, 2017

HR - Is Your CEO Being Too Easy On You?

If you suspect that your Chief Executive expects little from HR, here are some immediate actions to take. Act now, before he / she concludes that the Human Resource function isn't important...or worse.

Many HR professionals live in a world of low expectations. Here's my evidence - I have met very few CEO's and MD's who expect HR to deliver more than the minimum: "keeping people happy." This is in stark contrast to their expectations of CFOs and Sales Vice-Presidents - to hit measurable results that keep improving from one year to the next.

In these recessionary times, they may be asking for too little. If your time as an HR professional is consumed by efforts to fix problems brought to you by others then you may have a problem. If these problems amount to little more than keeping employees happy then you have a big challenge. You have become a good soldier, rather than a general.

The fact is, in today's economic times, CEO's need to pay lower wages for greater performance. It's not really a choice - their competition is hell-bent on doing the same. They are losing sleep as they scan their mediocre, less-than-world-class-workforce, and dream of a day when they can create a transformation.

One CEO who inherited a moribund, dysfunctional company admitted as much to me. With access to the right people, he could produce the same profits... after letting go a half of them. He didn't need HR to determine who should be kept, but he lacked a process to arrive at a new transformed destination.

That's exactly what's missing for many CEO's. A feasible transformation plan and an HR executive to lead the charge. It may be just what the business needs, but many of them are afraid to ask for what they really want: they don't want to HR on the spot.

Maybe a great question to ask your CEO is: "What are you afraid to ask or demand from HR that would transform the business we are in?" If you have the courage to ask the question you may not get a well-formed answer but it could kick-start an essential conversation. Over time, you can refine that original answer and turn it into a set of measurable objectives, suspending your fear of not knowing exactly how to achieve it.

That fear might be OK. Nowadays, there are lots of people doing things they didn't know how to do, in ways that propel them out of their comfort zone. Other executives face such "deliver-or-else" demands every day.

It's time HR leaders became the ones to shake up their companies with tough questions, showing the expectations being made of them are too low. Too many are sitting by the side, far outside the critical conversations that are re-shaping their company. The fact is, we are in precarious times that require tough corporate leadership from all functions. HR is not exempt. More than ever, it's required.

Francis Wade is the founder of CaribHRForum, an author and management consultant.

This article is a monthly contribution from a member of CaribHRForum. With over 600 practitioners in its discussion list, it’s the largest online network of HR professionals in the Caribbean enjoying CaribHR.Radio, CaribHRNet and CaribHRUpdates - www.caribhrforum.com

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