As a follow up to last week’s blog, ‘Ten Steps Up The C-Suite Ladder‘ we will begin to delve deeper into each of the individual rungs. Hang tight, we will get a good work out.

Rung one – Master the essentials of your chosen industry. If HR, then become technically proficient in culture, comp, compliance, hiring, on-boarding etc.

Shrewd Executive leadership wants and seeks business partners who will add significance to the bottom line.  Human Resources has been invited but must deliver value, moving from administrative to a strategic partnership in alignment with leadership’s 30,000-foot view of the people side of the business.  We live in a global economy and HR must be able to create a culture of high performance to compete in today’s market.  A key question leadership demands to know the answer to is “how well is our workforce performing and how are we helping them to improve”. It is more than having top talent; it is about performance that gets their attention.

Feedback to the executive level must not be inflated or exaggerated.  “Just the facts “Ma’am”, cut the fluff or you find yourself outside the table.  Leadership understands value and sees the results and is not interested in a scramble of activities that are waste of time and of no benefit to the overall vision of the company. 

HR is comprised of many areas of discipline including benefits, comp, performance management, employee relations, recruiting and learning and development.  None of these areas are a silo unto itself but of great importance in your role as the HR professional at the table.  It is a part of the big picture of what leadership wants from its strategic partner. Until HR and the leadership team jointly ask “how well is our workforce performing and how are we helping our employees improve” nothing will happen to secure a seat at the table for the partner.

I deal with HR professionals all the time and ask about success dealing with the executive leadership team.  A few years ago I was talking to a lady who told me of her success at the table.  She always says yes to the requests she gets from the C-Suite at the first opportunity.   You might be asking yourself, leadership is not looking for “yes men” and you are right.  Her response moves quickly to asking what their vision is for this request she has said yes to.  She then focuses on the why and not the what or how as this will come when we all understand why we do what we do. Once she knows the vision of the C-Suite and the why, she follows with a discussion about what it will look like when it is completed.  It is your job as an HR professional to then provide the knowledge as a contributor to the vision to accomplish the goals clearly understood by all parties.  Your executive team values your input at this point.  You are known as a person that will not lead them down the wrong path but the best path to reach the vision of the request. You are a master of your profession and you know how to manage the C-Suite with the best interest of the entire company. You are now on the rung of influence you desire and deserve. 

How do you master the essentials? 

Don’t miss our next post about Rung 2 where we will focus on Developing an Executive Presence and actively contributing.