Perhaps more than any discipline the HR function is being redefined. Disruption to business models, the rise of technology and social media, the need to reskill workforces and our new understanding around how best to empower people or tap into their full potential are forces that impact greatly on HR. They are also reasons that HR professionals can and should play a vital role in the strategic development of their organizations.
But too often we hear HR professionals complain their CEOs and C-suite colleagues undervalue HR as a resource and that the HR voice is not heard in the organization.
This view is countered by research from Professor Nick Holley of Henley Business School’s Centre for HR Excellence, which shows that CEOs want to be good customers of HR and do want HR to take a strategic role – but that CEOs were too often frustrated by how far HR was from living up to this.
Holley, who interviewed CEOs and HRDs in 26 large UK private and public companies and NGOs, concludes that “CEOs want HR to play a key business role. It is up to [HRDs] to recruit and train your people and yourselves so you can play it.”
A key finding from the research was that CEOs, under huge pressure in what is often a lonely role, need someone they can trust. While expertise, strategic thinking and commercial awareness matter, the trait most valued was integrity. CEOs want HRDs to focus on the ‘Director’ part of their title rather than the ‘HR’ part and be ‘corporate directors’ contributing beyond their functional role and for HR to focus on organizational culture – responsible for skills, culture, DNA, brand, values, behaviours, ethics, sustainability, and change – getting the technical HR basics right first of course.
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