What Does the C-Suite Want From HR?

Over the next few weeks I’ll have the opportunity to speak with thousands of HR Professionals & Leaders in business.  This week I will be in North Carolina and soon following in Minnesota, New Jersey, the Bahamas, Venezuela, Orlando and Virginia.

Part of the conversation happening in this community is the relationship between the C-Suite and HR.  Does the C-suite value the work?  How can HR bridge gaps to gain credibility, support, strategic influence and cold hard cash to make a meaningful contribution? What if the C-suite just doesn’t get it?

Real questions.  A real interesting conversation during a time of HR transformation where 90% of business leaders surveyed said that they are focused on making significant changes to their human-resource policies in the next 12 to 18 months (PwC’s 2011 annual global CEO survey).

Last week, while working with a client, I was fortunate to attend a business briefing where a panel of four CEOs talked very specifically about what they want from HR.  The focus of the conversation was how they define a “strategic HR business partner” and “what they want and need from HR now.”

HR as Strategic Business Partner

4 key themes emerged from this C-suite panel regarding HR as a Strategic Business Partner:

Understand the Business

HR work starts with the business. You need to be informed and understand the business strategy, objectives and obstacles as well as you understand HR. Speak the language. Do the requisite homework. Become an expert in the business you support and serve.

Be Present With Presence

Be visible.  Set meetings that focus on HR serving the business.  Offer to attend meetings that focus on business strategy and priorities.  Develop collaborative relationships with functional leaders across the enterprise in support of the HR value proposition.  Ask for feedback and establish clearly defined expectations and objectives around the HR contribution.

Influence for Impact

Guide leadership to serve the business the right way related to people and performance.  Coach communication.  Cultivate and celebrate culture. Reinforce and recognize values.  Be ready to demonstrate and dollarize the impact to the business around people practices.

Lead the People Strategy

Be proactive.  Serve as a catalyst for change.  Show up with new ideas and solutions to problems that have not been considered.  Challenge the status quo. Be an advocate for what the business needs to be doing better in an effort to optimize people and performance.  Hold the business accountable

In short summary, what the CEO wants from HR or any function for that matter is simple.


It is all about performance.


Don’t be denied.

Do the work.

Demonstrate a result.

Dollarize it.

Today you can influence the business from almost any level of the organization.  You don’t need permission to have influence.

But the one thing you do need?


That is what the C-suite wants the most.

Impact. Performance. Results.

Talent is a top of mind priority in the C-suite and HR is incredibly well positioned to deliver increasingly more value to the business. No doubt it is going to look different and I look forward these future-directed conversations, ideas and insights in the coming weeks.

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