HR and People leaders: Want a seat at the top table? Here's how to get it.

HR and People leaders: Want a seat at the top table? Here's how to get it.
Sage People

The people in a company are its most valuable asset. Fast-growth companies are realizing that their people are vital to their growth and, as a result, think about how their company designs great workforce experiences for their people.

These People Companies, as we call them, put the wellbeing of their staff first. They create meaningful work, invest in their people, and generate a company culture that motivates and engages their workforce.

As more HR and People teams concentrate on delivering great workforce experiences for their people in this way, it’s even more vital than ever that HR leaders are engaged with senior stakeholders across the whole business and involved in board-level discussions.

Here’s how HR and People leaders can get a seat at the top table.

1. Communicate change effectively, and in a two-way manor

One of the biggest complaints from employees is that they’re not communicated with, or listened to, enough, particularly if there is a lot of rapid change.

HR and People leaders’ roles are to manage and communicate change to employees in the most appropriate and timely manner, and to listen to the views of the workforce, and act on them as needed. A seat at the top table will ensure those all-important discussions about when and how to communicate change to employees will happen, and happen effectively.

Having a seat at the table also enables HR and People leaders to gain insights into the minds of the leadership team and understand the thought processes behind decisions, which will help with communicating changes throughout the business.

HR and People leaders should ask to join an executive board meeting to explain how they plan to communicate changes, and suggest their recommendations. By using evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, to back up what they’re saying they can show their value in not just managing, but engaging, their company’s people. The chances are, they’ll be invited back.

2. Use People Science to make business decisions

Currently, sales, marketing and operations are all using data to plan and measure objectives and gain actionable insight, meaning they can demonstrate the value of their contributions to the business and its bottom line.

So too should HR as the department responsible for any organization’s biggest asset: its people. That’s what People Science is about.

With People Science, HR and People leaders can use data to develop stronger and predictive insights about their people and motivations. These insights can then be used to make more informed evidence-based decisions. And the data can be used for predictive purposes, so that the leadership team can start to understand and make decisions based on people behavior and motivations.

Using data in this way adds immeasurable value to any business, and enables HR and People leaders to not only demonstrate the value of their contributions to the bottom line, but also make business recommendations that can turbocharge growth – both key insights and contributions needed at the top table.

3. Align the People strategy with the company’s overall strategy

People strategies look at where a company’s high-performers are, and how they hold onto them; it considers things like how organizations provide them with meaningful work.

Whether it’s to increase turnover, expand into new sectors, launch new products or grow through acquisition, business goals are all inherently driven by a company’s people.

HR and People leaders who align their People strategies with the company’s business plan can demonstrate how the company can collectively use their best asset – their people – and provide insight on their workforce otherwise lacking at the top table.

4. Collaborate with other departments

Operational issues often involve multiple departments, so having the HR or People leader at management meetings ensures companies can get HR’s take on a problem that no one else might have thought of.

For example, a big operational issue for businesses can be an insufficient headcount at a peak time of year. HR and People leaders can provide data such as staff turnover and investigate why there is a dip in volume of staff during this time, and work with the other departments to rectify the problem.

Enabling HR and People leaders to contribute to and collaborate with other divisional heads will also boost morale and create a partnership approach to problem-solving amongst the senior management team.

5. Build a strong HR function to support a strong business

When a company is looking to grow, HR and People leaders play a key role. From hiring and recruiting new employees, to training and developing the people that will take the organization to the next level.

HR and People leaders will oversee other challenges that growth can bring: necessary organizational restructures, acquisition possibilities, succession planning, and resignations – all while trying to maintain a positive employee experience.

By having HR and People leaders at the table whilst the leadership team discuss growth strategies, they can ensure the company is prepared for the onset of growth, and minimize the impact on the organization’s most valuable asset – their people.

Ultimately, though, the responsibility of being a People Company isn’t just down to HR and People leaders, it’s down to the whole executive team to deliver great experiences for their people. HR and People leaders can use leadership meetings to effectively convey this to, and support, the whole team at the top table – ultimately driving growth across the business.

Its time HR and People leaders take their seats at the top table where they belong.

Find out what 500+ HR and People leaders said about the biggest challenges they face in their role. Read our ‘Becoming a People Company’ research report today.

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