Know the field of HR:Being a HR generalist is such a broad-based profession. We have to have some degree of working knowledge across the spectrum of HR competencies. SHRM has developed a competency model which defines the required proficiencies at each level of a person’s HR career: entry, mid, senior, executive levels. Only speak: Two words: Inflated resumes. You know how we feel as HR professionals when we see a candidate who has clearly inflated his/her resume? We think we’re getting one thing and then, in the interview, figure out that the candidate has over-represented his or her actual experience. Unfortunately, we’re not exempt from this temptation. Because we want to be valued and have greater influence in our organizations, it is tempting to pretend (or at least imply) that we have greater levels of expertise in each of these functional areas than might be the case. I remember the first time I was asked to develop a variable compensation program for retail store managers and salespersons. I was tempted to (or you could say “I felt a lot of pressure to”) oversell my capabilities <or whatever are the right words for you to indicate “stretch the truth”>. But the truth is, I had never developed that kind of a program. Credibility means only speaking as an authority when you are one. By definition, we cannot have equally high levels of expertise in every area of HR. So we must be clear—and honest—about our level of expertise. Provide evidence: If you’ve done special work in performance management design or health and safety, of course, share what you’ve learned when it’s appropriate. Those experiences are part of your story. If the topic of conversation is on staffing and you’ve just read a relevant article or study, of course, share it. These stories help demonstrate your continued growth and credibility as a HR professional who has an informed opinion.
Handle: Making sure the tactical, transactional things are done with excellence helps open the door to increasing our influence with the C-Suite. We must hold ourselves to a high standard regarding these day-to-day activities. If our C-level leaders routinely hear about inaccuracies in payroll, benefits administration, staffing, or safety, it is really hard for them to overlook those complaints when we are trying to gain their attention and support for larger, more strategic initiatives.Deliver on C-suite promises: When you say you’re going to do a comp analysis by a certain date, do it. That said, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We all sometimes underestimate the amount of time a project may take. As Andrea mentioned, when these things happen, be sure to get in communication with your CXO immediately. The perception of reliability is built one transaction at a time. Every encounter with someone in the C-Suite is an audition for leadership.Treat…: And, come to think about it, why wouldn’t we treat all of our stakeholders as executives? Why would there ever be a situation where we didn’t do our best to deliver what we promised? Remember, people talk in organizations. A lot of our time is spent dealing with the repercussions of this talk. And let’s not forget, they are also talking about us! The perception the C-Suite has of our reliability can be boosted significantly by the shared perceptions of others throughout the organization. Let’s treat all our stakeholders as executives.
ANDREA COVER AND I CHIME IN.So, when we ask for 30 minutes of their time to discuss a new HR initiative, we need to realize that, for us, it may be the biggest thing we’re working on. For our CEO, it’s probably not. It’s just one of many high level projects and concerns that occupy her time and energies.
Trust and Influence Making the C-Suite Your Sweet Spot - SHRM National June 2013
Andrea P. Howe June 19, 2013
Trust and Influence:
Making the C-Suite Your Sweet Spot
Gary S. Jones, SPHR