Five minutes with... Karen Evans APAC managing director, Acendre

Karen Evans chats about HR's relationship with managing directors and offers advice on how the two can work better together

Five minutes with... Karen Evans APAC managing director, Acendre

What do you think the relationship between HR professionals and managing directors should look like?
Human resource professionals should be acting as an advisory mechanism to managing directors, enabling them to run their businesses and staff effectively. It’s important to build these direct relationships with business leaders, in order to develop a detailed understanding of where the business is going and what it is trying to achieve. Once this is established, line managers and HR can then guide and support these objectives from what I’d call a ‘people point of view’.

HR and managing directors have a shared responsibility to ensure the business is equipped with the tools to achieve their goals. For example, if a business wants to grow 10% in the next financial year, yet is struggling with employee engagement, business growth will be impeded. In this circumstance, HR needs to ask the right questions to get the business to where it wants to be. This could include questions like ‘Why is there an engagement issue?’, ‘Is the business attracting the right people?’, and ‘How can HR support the business with shifting the needle?’

Where do managing directors and HR usually differ on opinion?
Differences in opinion between HR and managing directors tend to stem from a misaligned understanding of the business. When dealing with Managing Directors, HR professionals must speak their language. At the end of the day, execs want the hard facts to back a strategic decision. For HR, this means communicating the return on investment, understanding and detailing the effect on the broader business, being aware of business pressures that executives are facing, and producing the data that will help senior management make a decision.

How can HR professionals and business leaders work better together?
It’s a two-way street. As HR professionals actively seek to understand the business, equally, executives must open avenues for HR to learn about their business goals and HR’s role in reaching those targets. The more involved HR is in the business planning process, the better equipped they will be to deliver revenue-generating HR strategies. From this, they can then build teams that enable senior management to reach their KPIs and project deadlines on schedule, within budget, and with future-ready talent.

How can business leaders align HR more closely with business goals?
HR plays a critical role in the business planning process. Business leaders must recognise that the successful implementation of any broader business strategy requires the right people to support it. To deliver revenue-generating results, leaders must work alongside HR to produce a KPI-driven ‘people plan’ for finding and attracting talent.

What do CEOs wish their HR departments did?
Put simply, CEOs want their HR departments to add measurable value to the business. To meet the needs of the C-Suite, HR departments should provide CEOs with strategic advice that drives business goals from both a people and company perspective. CEOs want to know how HR strategies can shift the needle for the business, coupled with supporting financial metrics, driving and proving results, and continuous agility to suit the business’ strategic objectives as they evolve.

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