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How to win friends and influence people

HR has earned its seat at the executive table, but the challenge now is to remain influential at the top level. We speak to David Adamson of PeopleStreme and Joanne Nugent of Parsons Brinkerhoff for their thoughts on what CEOs want from their HR directors.

Video transcript below:

Donna Sawyer, HC TV
Donna Sawyer: HR has earned its seat at the executive table, but remaining influential at the top level requires an entirely different skill set.  That’s the view of Joanne Nugent of Parsons Brinkerhoff.  She says HR Directors need to take a fresh approach at the senior leadership level.
Joanne Nugent, Parsons Brinkerhoff
Joanne Nugent: There was a really good article in the Harvard Business Review in 2011 that focused on all of the chief positions around any leadership table and what were the key development opportunities for each of those roles, whether it be the Chief Information Officer, the Chief HR Officer, the Chief Financial Officer.  But one thing that came out loud and clear in that research for any chief role was that the skills that got you to that seat are no longer relevant once you are in that seat.  So the striking impact is for me as a HR Director of our business, the very skills that got me to this seat are now no longer the skills I need to maintain my seat.  And that I think is the learning for any HR Director, Chief HR Officer.
David Adamson, PeopleStreme
David Adamson:  The HR business crossover has been emerging for some time and it’s finally got there and most organisations do recognise HR at the executive table.  The way for a sustainable position at that table is to make sure that the HR team and executive team have business training.  So MBA, relevant business qualifications will continue to have them seen as being relevant.
Donna Sawyer:  David Adamson of PeopleStreme says CEOs want a direct perspective from their HR Directors than the views of finance or marketing staff.  
David Adamson:  The HR team has in the past had difficulty being able to connect human capital performance on organisational performance.  A business oriented HR leader can now correlate those metrics between HR performance and provide a direct connection back to organisational performance in terms of revenue increase or cost increase which does impact on profitability.
Joanne Nugent:  If you are going to sit around management table, in the past I think the Chief Executive Officer would always look for support in implementing the plan.  HR now needs to comfortably be able to sit around that table and be party to the decisions at that chief exec mix, have an opinion, have a say and be accountable for any decision that comes out of that group.  If you are going to sit around the table then you have got to be accountable for anyting that comes out of that table.  And that’s where I think HR will continue to maintain its seat at the table is that if it sits around the table, appreciating that [whole] of business influence.
Donna Sawyer:  The key to any successful working relationship is trust. David Adamson of PeopleStreme says there are some key elements to building trust with your CEO.  
David Adamson:  If there is no trust between the CEO and the HRD then there is going to be little impact an HRD can have on organisational change.  The [Kirby] trust model includes things such as capability, integrity, predictability and benevolence and if those elements can be demonstrated by the HRD, then the benefit of a proper and useful trust relationship with the CEO can result in tremendous organisational performance.  Conversely if the trust model is way down, then the negative impact on the business is huge as well.
Donna Sawyer:  This Donna Sawyer reporting for HC TV.