How HR can break into the C-suite

HR leaders are often overlooked in higher level positions but one talent management expert says there are ways to break the pattern

How HR can break into the C-suite
“Perhaps the most important consequence of HR’s profile is its underrepresentation in leader candidate pools,” claimed a report by talent management experts Development Dimensions International (DDI).

HR leaders, they said, often get overlooked for higher level positions and those that do get it, have a very distinct profile.

One trait that defines an HR leader in an executive roles is the ability to anticipate future needs.

“Anticipators are always looking for what might come next. By predicting future talent gaps, and then striving to close the—they are able to proactively advise business leaders on the probability of their strategies succeeding based on available talent and its quality,” said Desmond Tan, director of consulting, DDI Singapore to HRD.

“Anticipators are also far more likely to be part of their organisation’s strategic planning process. That involvement pays off big for their organisations, which are three times more likely to have exhibited strong financial performance than organisations in which HR’s involvement in the planning process occurs late or is non-existent.”

The dynamic nature of the economy and markets also means that HR will need to fully understand all aspects of the business to see how they can truly contribute to its success, he said.

“HR can only fully partner the business if they are fully conversant on the business issues and in many cases anticipate the human capital impact to changing business climates and needs.”

Tan further explained that “HR leaders are extremely strong in building organisational talent and in most interpersonal competencies—even more so than peers in other business functions.”

On the other hand, HR’s weakness is in finance, “business savvy, entrepreneurship, and global acumen,” which sadly plays into the stereotypical archetype of HR leaders’ ignorance in core business concepts, he added.

“Build partnerships that connect HR with functions possessing complementary strengths. HR can both learn from and advise these groups on key skills,” he said.

“The HR Success Profile and selection/promotion tools need to be adapted [as well], and prioritise financial acumen and business savvy – two skills that differentiate HR leaders who are candidates for top leadership positions from HR leaders in lower-level candidate pools.”

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