Roland Smith, senior vice-president and managing director of the Center for Creative Leadership in Asia, told HRD
about the ways in which HR could take up a more strategic role with both the CEO and the function heads at the table.
With regards to convincing the CEO, Smith suggested that HR follow these four key steps:
- Know how the business works, what HR should be aligned with and how to get the work done more effectively
- Look at trends, opportunities and disruptions that may impact the business and lead a discussion around what these mean
- Support organisational design work by driving and guiding the strategy around this
- Simplify talent management and demonstrate how these strategies support the business
“Focus on helping the business execute,” Smith said. “Having a set of competencies doesn’t mean much to a lot of CEOs and C-suiters.”
As for the other functional heads at the table, building trust and support is absolutely crucial, Smith noted.
“Trust is built in three ways: the leader believes you are competent, have high integrity, and have the leaders’ best interests – and the business’ best interests – in mind,” he said.
“As HR, partner with the leader on running the business and not just on HR-related issues.”
This means HR leaders should discuss strategy and business needs. To gain experience in these areas, a temporary assignment where HR runs the business can be beneficial, he added.
“Ask the question, what would it take for an HR leader to run the function in the absence of the business leader?”
HR should also seek ways to narrow the perceived competency gap when it comes to understanding the business, he said.
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“Every CEO I’ve ever worked with usually has one question that is on their mind: ‘Can you help me?’ What they mean is can you help drive our business more effectively?”