5 Steps to Get HR into the Boardroom in Your Organisation
As an HR practitioner, you have valuable information and insight into the people that power your organisation.
This information has a role to play in many boardroom decisions, but HR may not be involved in these discussions. Traditionally, HR hasn't been designated a seat at the boardroom table.
However, there’s a big push to bring HR into the boardroom to get on board with these decisions. Want to make this the culture in your organisation? We’re here to show you how.
Step 1 – Shifting Perceptions
Changing the perceptions that your colleagues have about HR isn’t something that will happen overnight, as they can be long standing and firmly held beliefs. If you have a colleague that thinks HR is needlessly bureaucratic and offers no real insight, they’re not likely to change this opinion without clear evidence.
So, your first step to making HR part of boardroom discussions is to demonstrate value and prove these insights have real power. Easier said than done, right?
Well, there are some actionable steps that you can take on a regular basis to begin to change these perceptions. To start with, you want to ensure that your HR department is data-driven. Switching to this method of thinking will cause a seismic shift that will give your function a new lease on life.
Shifting perceptions of HR isn’t just an external process, as you should also think about how you can best change your own mindset. You may just be your own biggest obstacle!
This doesn’t mean you completely forget about the day-to-day functions, instead you use these to power change. You may deal with grievances on a regular basis, but do you examine these for common trends and changes?
If not, you’re missing out on the chance to show the boardroom what your people think. You can use these statistics to show that you really have your finger on the pulse of the organisation. Collate data and use them to create a narrative, which will be easily digestible for those outside of the function.
This will not only serve the boardroom; it will also help you to further your career through data-driven HR practices. Organisations that see real value in the function will require this kind of analytical thinking from their employees. The more real examples that you can call upon to illustrate your experience with this, the better.
Be consistent to improve your credibility, and in turn the credibility of any information that you offer.
Step 2 – Create Opportunities
You may be waiting for an invite to the boardroom as a senior HR practitioner, but sometimes you must create these opportunities for yourself. Being proactive in your approach to making these opportunities is what will make a real difference.
As well as researching the numbers, you also want to create opportunities to present these. When reporting on these figures, you want to underline the benefit and insight that they offer. This makes the case for reporting them more widely, and in the boardroom.
When changes are proposed that impact staff, you should proactively offer to research the outcome. For example, you receive a directive from the boardroom to change your holiday request procedure, to require a longer approval period. This is your time to go behind the scenes with line managers and understand how this would impact their day-to-day role.
You may find that this would be welcomed by 30% of managers, as they receive 40% of holiday requests within a month of the time off and must scramble for resources. 60% of managers prefer to give their employees flexibility, as they have enough resources to cover last minute requests and employees return this flexibility when required.
However, you may discover that the current holiday request procedure doesn’t automatically sync requests to the calendar, which is the real cause of the holiday hassle for managers.
With all this research behind you, you could extend the holiday approval period slightly with managerial discretion and implement a new system of holiday requests that make these easier for managers to handle at short notice.
When reporting back, you can tell the boardroom about the likely outcome of the proposed changes. Simplify this by stating that more than half of managers prefer to give flexibility, while three quarters of them cite issues with the holiday booking process. This highlights the real area for concern, backed up by data that proves your case.
By creating these opportunities and building your reputations, you’ll show that your data-driven practices truly have a place in the boardroom.
Step 3 – Broaden Your Knowledge
If there are gaps within your HR knowledge, you should address these before you step into the boardroom. Of course, no one expects you to know everything about HR off the bat, but you want to be able to confidently field questions from your colleagues.
If you propose a solution, you don’t want a colleague to raise a legal question that you don’t know the answer to or hadn’t considered. It’s acceptable to express the need to research complex questions, but you should be able to field the basic questions to build confidence in your knowledge.
Taking the time to enhance your HR knowledge will come in handy, both in the boardroom and outside of it. You want to position yourself as an authority for all things HR related, as this will prove your worth within your organisation.
Undertaking a formal qualification, networking with other HR practitioners and keeping up to date with the latest developments will position you to help others in your organisation. With this breadth of knowledge, you’ll be a natural addition to the boardroom whenever your company’s people are being discussed.
Studying towards a qualification can also increase your confidence, as you have access to up-to-date, factual information. You won’t need to rely on conjecture or second-hand information, making you feel more confident when you do contribute.
Remember, while your knowledge may be adequate for your role, improvements may be needed to take the next step into the boardroom. You may advise your colleagues on employment law, but have you considered how this would impact an international move?
Investigate new solutions that will assist you and the wider organisation. Investing in HR software can take simplify the data capture process and forecast trends that would otherwise go unnoticed. This can also create opportunities to discuss implementation with other C-level executives, such as the CTO.
Step 4 – Gain New Experience
At executive level, you’ll find that most people in the boardroom speak in a similar way and have had corresponding experience. To get on their level, you should also be ready to seek out new experience.
Managerial experience can be incredibly useful, as this is the career path that most other executives will have followed. This helps to bridge the gap and allow you to explain concepts in a language that everyone understands.
If you don’t manage a large HR department, or simply need a different kind of managerial experience, you can ask for a secondment. This will get you away from the HR silo and into the wider workforce, as you gain valuable knowledge.
Other managers may have found it difficult to understand your jargon in the past, but by gaining more experience in communicating with them you’ll learn how best to get your message across.
This can be a rewarding step in your career in itself, as you mix up your regular role and interact with new colleagues.
You can use this time to bring your experience to his new area of the business, working on personal development plans, training, and succession planning. There’s no substitute for first-hand experience when it comes to getting to know your colleagues!
Use this time to become aware of your colleagues’ biggest concerns and how they communicate these. This is all valuable information that you can use in the boardroom to advocate for new training schemes, initiatives and other policies that will create positive change for your colleagues.
Step 5 – Adapt to Organisational Goals and Themes
When you do make it into these boardroom meetings, you want to ensure that you’re using this insight effectively. Understanding overall business goals can assist you in making the right decisions for your colleagues.
During your first fledgling steps into the boardroom, you want to look for information that you can take away and use, so you can justify the time you spend there. If you have the opportunity to sit in on one meeting, then use the key takeaways to make the case as to why you should be privy to this information in future.
Always act with integrity when dealing with this information. You may be accustomed to handling sensitive data, but inadvertently leaking seemingly inconsequential information from the boardroom can put an end to your tenure there.
Behind the scenes, you can conduct research and plan initiatives that would align with these goals. If the board wants to improve productivity, you can create an initiative to improve employee engagement with research to back up how this will impact productivity.
This shows proactivity and real business acumen, which will further prove your skills with people management.
Leading the way on bringing your function into the boardroom will allow the C-suite of your business to access powerful people analytics. Bring your knowledge into the boardroom and carve out a place for the CHRO in your organisation.