What every CEO needs to know about HR
If you ask a CEO "What does your HR leader do?" he or she is
likely to say: "You got me. I just know I need to have one." We
expect our HR execs to look after employee records, hire and train
people, administer performance reviews, and see that comp and
benefits practices chug along. Beyond that, the mission can get
fuzzy, fast. Most CEOs I know don't have a ready answer to the
question "How does your HR leader help your organization compete?"
nor do they have a handy list of must-do activities for an HR exec
charged with boosting the organization's competitive mojo.
It's every HR chief's highest calling to make sure his or her
employer has the most excited, switched-on, and capable people on
the market. Here's a list of the things your HR head should be
doing right now:
1. Collaborating with you and other
leaders to design and communicate a vision for the company, using
every communication vehicle you have.
2. Selling your company to the "talent
population," in person, online, and via print and broadcast media.
An HR leader should articulate the organization's culture and
story, not only for recruiting purposes but to fuel all of your
activities with clients, vendors, media, and the business
3. Teaching all employees to tell the
truth at work, especially when sticky interpersonal or political
wrangles crop up. (Note to CEO: This includes telling you when you
sound like a crazy person.)
4. Reinforcing a culture that emphasizes
ingenuity over irrelevant, one-size-fits-all metrics.
5. Building a pipeline of qualified,
energized people to fuel the company's growth-scrapping the
requisition-by-requisition, transactional recruitment model.
6. Shifting the HR function away from a
break/fix model ("Benefits question? Second door on the left.") to
an embedded function in your business units.
7. Installing just enough HR process to
meet your company's regulatory compliance needs but not so much
that people are stymied or treated like children.
8. Building a culture of collaboration
that fuels every important program at your company. If your HR
chief isn't the advocate for people and evangelist for your
culture, that's a bad sign.
9. Asking your team members every day for
their input on your business, their own careers, and life in
general-not via a sterile, once-a-year "employee engagement
10. Replacing fear with trust at every
opportunity, in policies, training sessions, management practices,
and via every conversation in the place.
It's a new day in HR. Is your company on the cutting edge, or
bringing up the rear?