leadership

Build a Strategic Engine for Growth

 

When your HR team gets your business, your business grows.

Wish your HR team delivered more value to your business? Then involve them in it. Too often the HR department is side-lined by pet projects, under-represented in the boardroom, or referred to as the department of "no."

Building strategic HR muscle and encouraging an advisory approach is a smart business decision, ensuring the dollars spent are directly aligned with business needs, and addressing your biggest investment- your people.

Here are 3 compelling business reasons my clients make the leap:

  1. Business line leaders can focus on profit when HR leaders focus on people. With business line insight and access, HR can proactively help your leaders recruit, build and develop a high performing team.   

  2. Trusted HR partnerships enable more business line agility.  For example, when it's time for a reorganization, you can act swiftly knowing you have a strong HR support system in place.

  3. HR becomes solution-oriented, innovating programs or initiatives to solve existing talent concerns or opportunities.  These HR pros understand how best to prioritize initiatives and resources to propel the business line forward.

I often hear from CEOs that their HR team “isn’t strategic” and doesn’t seem capable to make the pivot toward a strategic advisor role, but that is seldom the case. More often than not, I find that HR has been left out of the critical conversations around corporate growth strategy, key metrics, and priorities. And too, they need skill-building to engage in those crucial conversations.

The best approach is to not replace your current HR team with new people, but to teach them the new skills required for their new role in today’s business environment. The hard work is worth the payoff!

 

4 Things You Won't Hear Successful HR Leaders Say

 

Too often, HR leaders find themselves sidelined- not included in high level discussions or decisions, or buried on the organization chart.  In the end, these leaders find their influence waning.

Successful HR leaders avoid this, instead becoming an indispensable advisor to their stakeholders.  It turns out, their mindset is different-- and here’s what you don’t hear them say:

#1: No one includes me when there are important conversations or decisions being made.  

Successful HR leaders build strong alliances, providing value to stakeholders so they’re included in these important conversations.  But here’s the gist: They are included not because they are in HR.  They are included because they bring a unique, valuable and insightful perspective to the conversation.  Their stakeholders want them to be there because they challenge ideas and present creative alternatives.

#2: I don’t know what our top 3 business goals are for the year.

Successful HR leaders know the business, understand priorities and build their strategies to solve for talent problems that get in the way of those goals being realized.  It really is that simple. Many times in my work with HR leaders, I find the bulk of their teams’ work addresses what they believe HR should be done based on “best practices”, but it’s not clear that it actually addresses an existing (or even forecasted) business problem.

#3: I don’t have time to think about strategy- there’s too much work to get done.

Business line leaders expect that HR leaders will flawlessly execute, and too many HR leaders focus on operational excellence. To become a strategic advisor to the business, HR leaders should spend at least 4 hours every week exploring strategic alternatives, learning about business strategies or competitors, or removing obstacles to the team achieving their goals.  Focusing solely on execution of details makes it difficult (if not impossible) to be a trusted advisor.

#4: I’m always justifying every dollar in my budget.

I’ve seen it time and again-- once successful HR leaders show how their team adds value to the bottom line and you are providing unique and necessary solutions to urgent business problems, budget scrutiny will become a thing of the past.

 

Learning Leadership

 

I remember when I was first promoted into a managerial role in a fairly large company.  I was suddenly the “boss”. My friends now worked for me.  

And I had no idea how to act like one.

I was filled with anxiety and questions.

How can I be the manager and preserve my friendships with my friends
How should I give feedback to a friend?
How do I hire people to complement the team?
How often do I need to meet with my team, and seriously, why do we need to have meetings?

… and so on.

It took me a few months, but I finally fessed up- admitted that I had no idea what I was doing and wondered if there was a book I could reference.

The response I received was memorable, “We learn by doing.  Sometimes you’ll make mistakes, other times you won’t.  You’ll learn.”

Yes, true-- I did learn over time.  A long time.  Though I wish that someone would have explained to me that while I was “learning”, my team was watching and I was losing impact and influence.

I love to golf, but I’m seriously lousy at it.  I tried to get better by going to the driving range-- I’m still lousy.  Then I realize, if you keep trying the same thing over and over again, without learning to do it right- don’t expect to get better.

Same thing applies for leading others.  You can keep practicing and just doing what you’re doing.  But you may learn the wrong things, or be unprepared when circumstances change.

Especially in a small company, it pays enormous dividends to pause, reflect, and intentionally lead.  

Maybe you’ve started a company and are now surrounded by other people who are making your dream a reality. Or you’ve joined a small and promising company, and are the “manager”-- getting work done through others during dynamic times.

So you’re the boss, now what do you do?

Leading others is a learned skill.  None of us pop out into the universe prepared to lead others.  

Leaders in small companies should take the time to learn by practice.  Learn the art of leading from others who have been there before you.

Find mentors.  Build a “personal board of directors”-- people outside of your company who have been there before and can give you candid and useful helpful in a safe way.  And seek out opportunities to learn in a safe “practice zone”.

Whether you realize it or not, in a leadership position you have a great deal of influence.  What you do with that influence is up to you.  You can choose to ignore it and hope that your planned stellar results speak for themselves, or you can choose to embrace the opportunity and prepare for it like it’s the challenge it is!

 
 

To learn more about how to ignite your leaders, visit our Management Development Program.

 

INFOGRAPH: 3 Reasons Why Your Corporate Values Matter

3 reasons why your corporate values matter final.jpeg

Can Strong Corporate Values Polish Off 5,000 Pizzas?

 

It’s no secret that tech companies power the world and are accomplishing some of the most innovative discoveries in this day and age. Other companies want to be like them. And most of all, people compete to work for them.


The secret to their success is largely related to their ability to direct their employees towards the businesses key goals.  As other industries attempt to emulate these innovative workplaces, there’s an increasing emphasis on being mission or value-driven and company culture. Corporate values, whether explicitly stated or not, play a critical role in an organization’s culture and strategy.  

So what makes having corporate values different from not having them?

Strong corporate values align an organization’s culture with its mission and goals. This ultimately improves the likelihood of a company achieving their goals and reaching successful outcomes.

Still not entirely sure? Here’s how it works:

An organization’s culture brings people together and develops the bond of a community. When individuals feel a sense of belonging and understand the direction that the company is headed in, they’re more likely to put their best foot forward and work towards the group effort. When there is a lack of organizational culture or weakly established values, employees are less likely to feel inclined to innovate and collaborate with their peers.

But what does pizza have to do with corporate culture?

Picture this:  The Guinness Book of World Records delivered 5,000 large pizzas to your office offering a $1 billion grant to the company that breaks the record for eating the pizzas the fastest. Will you have the leadership and strong organizational spirit to bring everybody together?

Let’s say there are 3,500 people in your company and eight slices on a large pizza. That means everybody would have to eat approximately 11.43 slices of pizza. That’s a lot of pizza!  To put away that much pizza, every single person must be united in their dedication to achieving the goal. They must be in it to win it. But that kind of coalescence can only come from having a vibrant culture backed by strong leadership.

 

Great Places to Work identified 1,000 firms that reveal a strong correlation between financial performance and employees’ belief in their company’s values. Companies with employees that best understand where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and know that everyone is in it together are the most profitable. This means that if a company does not have strong organizational values, they are likely underperforming and diminishing their potential of maximizing profits (or potential pizza prizes).

It’s easy to undermine the values or cultures of our companies and focus on hard money driven outcomes. What makes certain companies so special is their ability to intertwine both their people strategy with their business strategy. Unfortunately, the perceived road to success is not a straight shot. And as your company faces unforeseen obstacles down the road, your people’s ability to consume pizzas in record time is indicative of your people’s ability to work together and persevere through tough times.

 

4 Things You Won’t Hear Successful HR Leaders Say

 

Too often, HR leaders find themselves sidelined- not included in high level discussions or decisions, or buried on the organization chart.  In the end, these leaders find their influence waning.

Successful HR leaders avoid this, instead becoming an indispensable advisor to their stakeholders.  It turns out, their mindset is different-- and here’s what you don’t hear them say:

#1: No one includes me when there are important conversations or decisions being made.  

Successful HR leaders build strong alliances, providing value to stakeholders so they’re included in these important conversations.  But here’s the gist: They are included not because they are in HR.  They are included because they bring a unique, valuable and insightful perspective to the conversation.  Their stakeholders want them to be there because they challenge ideas and present creative alternatives.

#2: I don’t know what our top 3 business goals are for the year.

Successful HR leaders know the business, understand priorities and build their strategies to solve for talent problems that get in the way of those goals being realized.  It really is that simple. Many times in my work with HR leaders, I find the bulk of their teams’ work addresses what they believe HR should be done based on “best practices”, but it’s not clear that it actually addresses an existing (or even forecasted) business problem.

#3: I don’t have time to think about strategy- there’s too much work to get done.

Business line leaders expect that HR leaders will flawlessly execute, and too many HR leaders focus on operational excellence. To become a strategic advisor to the business, HR leaders should spend at least 4 hours every week exploring strategic alternatives, learning about business strategies or competitors, or removing obstacles to the team achieving their goals.  Focusing solely on execution of details makes it difficult (if not impossible) to be a trusted advisor.

#4: I’m always justifying every dollar in my budget.

I’ve seen it time and again-- once successful HR leaders show how their team adds value to the bottom line and you are providing unique and necessary solutions to urgent business problems, budget scrutiny will become a thing of the past.