How To Get The Attention of the Board of Directors

A big challenge for HR professionals is getting attention at board level, says Mike Turner, the Managing Director of You Become.

One of the reasons is that although many HR professionals are very good at process and tasks, they often struggle with the bigger picture, he says in his latest video.

Another issue can be that HR teams don’t understand key business concepts or the business language that stakeholders use, according to Lynn Kearny and Kenneth H.Silber, authors of ‘Organizational Intelligence’.[1] That means HR can’t understand the organisation’s most urgent concerns, and can thus be out of alignment with the rest of the management team. It also means stakeholders are likely to dismiss their recommendations as naive.

The pair held workshops and courses for 2,000 HR/training professionals and found less than 20% could answer basic business questions about the organisations they work in or work with as consultants. They were unable to answer questions about the strategic issues facing the organisation, and about how they as HR or training practitioners contribute to the organisation’s bottom line (or even what the bottom line was or how it was calculated).

“Few know where to find documentation about what the business is doing, what its plans and challenges are, and how it is measuring up—including documentation that is public and required by the government,” they said.

But without business intelligence, it’s difficult for HR to influence business decisions or to gain the time and attention of the people who make those decisions.

“If we don’t understand the business concepts and the business language our clients use, how can we understand their most pressing problems? If we make recommendations that do not take the big business issues that clients face into account, how can they trust our recommendations?”

That’s why it’s crucial that HR professionals understand the logic and language of business and the organisation in which they work.

It’s important for HR to understand the threats and opportunities the organisation faces; how it makes a profit and achieves growth; its purpose and direction; and how it acquires and keeps customers. HR must also be able to persuade the Board of Directors that it delivers value and creates results.

For that to happen, HR needs to communicate more strategically with the company’s decision makers. It needs to present ideas in a way that decision-makers understand. It also needs to use statistics and numbers to support its case.

Carol Anderson, the founder and principal of business consultancy Anderson Performance Partners, LLC, recommends HR professionals ‘start with the end in mind’.[2]

“Focus on growing revenue, income or market share, or reducing expense,” she urges. “That’s what really matters. If the work that HR leaders and employees are doing cannot be tied directly to these metrics, stop doing it.”

The relationship between HR and the C-Suite needs to be a collaborative one if the organisation is to succeed, she says.

“Shaping human behaviour is a joint responsibility of HR and the C-Suite. If the C-Suite wants to grow revenue, income and market share, or reduce expenses, they have to engage a committed workforce to do exactly what needs to be done and create a cadre of managers that knows how to lead people.”

Although HR can devise the framework for that, it will only happen with the collaboration and support of the C-Suite, she adds.

For more detailed information about how YouBecome can help you develop long-term HR strategies, please call a member of our team on 01932 977 090. You Become is a leading expert in employee engagement and organisational culture for ambitious UK companies.

[1]‘Organizational Intelligence: A Guide to Understanding the Business of Your Organization for HR, Training, and Performance Consulting’, Kearny, Lynn, Silber, Kenneth, H., John Wiley & Sons, 2010

[2]‘Why The C-Suite Needs To Collaborate With HR’, Anderson, Carol, Rework, Cornerstone On Demand,, December 29, 2015