Editor's Insights: 3 Suggestions for Bringing Ideas to the C-Suite




Research continues to show that HR departments are not fulfilling their potential as a strategic business partner in organization. What if this is due not to a lack of effort or knowledge, but because of lack of alignment with C-level priorities?

For numerous reasons, and certainly not helped by the worldwide economic downturn, the functions of the HR department are often not aligned with the goals of the boardroom. This is a threat to the overall performance of the organization and must be acknowledged.

Research from Hyland Software found 91 percent of professionals working across a variety of business functions continue to see the biggest challenge for HR as being "to bridge the gap from a transactional function to a strategic business partner". The truth is, no one has a better understanding of the inner workings of the organization and its people than HR. The disconnect perhaps boils down to little more than a gap in communication between HR leaders and the C-Suite.

Following are some suggestions for HR to present the business case for much needed changes in the organization.

1. Keep It Simple. According to an article by Shane Atchison, CEO at POSSIBLE, most ideas fail because they are communicated poorly. Odds are, as an HR professional you understand the business functions you oversee in much more depth than your CEO, as it is his or her job to oversee the entire organization. If you speak plainly and are concise, you have a much better chance of getting your point across. Pretend you are speaking to someone with no technical knowledge of your issue. Don't assume that the CEO speaks the same jargon you use on a daily basis to do your job.

You may also be tempted to over explain the problem in order to show its importance. Atchison points out that no one feels more pressed for time than the CEO, so make sure you are using it wisely. Keep your presentation under ten minutes, make your point and get out. If you are asked to, you can always explain in further detail at a later time allocated to address the issue.

2. Make It About the Bottom Line. The CEO is about the big picture, and the big picture is company revenue. Business leaders are in charge of making a profit, and as an HR professional, this may or may not be your number one priority in campaigning for a particular change. For example, if you are bringing the issue of better healthcare and creating a stronger culture of corporate wellness to the CEO, you need to focus on the issues that are key to keeping down costs: lower turnover, lower absenteeism, reduced healthcare costs, etc. In other words, you have to learn to sing the language of the C-suite, which concerns the whole business.

3. Offer Tangible Solutions. First and foremost, Atchison suggests linking your idea to the current strategy since, clearly, the CEO is already on board with that. You should also outline specific performance goals in order to measure the efficacy of your implementation. Not only are you speaking the language, you are taking ownership for your idea.

Not every idea will succeed, but it is important to communicate with key players in your organization, as it will show that you have a vested interest in your organization's future. On the other hand, think about how receptive your department is to ideas coming from those you manage.

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