Three must-know tips for becoming the CEO’s trusted advisor

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Creating a partnership with your CEO can be tricky if you’re up against the attitude that HR is merely a payroll function or a personnel department.

Anchor Foods HR manager Sandie Beaumont told HC Online this lack of perceived value is a hurdle HR professionals face when working to be seen as strategic partners.

“One of the disappointing facts is that not all organizations value HR. When I was at the National HR Summit in Sydney, one of the statistics that was revealed was that 66 per cent of CEOs do not see HR as a strategic partner.”

She said her partnership with Anchor Foods CEO David Clapin is part of the minority culture where HR is valued.

“Fortunately for me, truly successful CEOs like David surround themselves with really good people and they have experts in all areas of the business like finance, operations, logistics, business development and they also include HR. We have a right to be included as part of the strategic leadership team.”

There are ways to set yourself on the path to a successful partnership and it starts with believing in yourself, said Beaumont.

“You must believe in yourself as a strategic partner. HR is now bound by all kinds of legislation that is applied to people and there’s far more than ever before so you have to be the expert because you’re responsible for all of the people and you have to navigate your way through that minefield – analyze and interpret data, review legislation and generally stay on top of it all and one step ahead.”

Having a balanced view of the role is also important, said Beaumont.

“It’s 50 per cent business and 50 per cent people. You are a business leader as well as a function leader. You can’t be a spectator, you must get involved. You are a business leader first so you’ve got to get to know the business – the vision, strategic direction, who your competitors and customers are – you’ve got to have a very global, holistic view.

“You must look at it from that business leader perspective and then secondly as a function leader. What are the issues facing the organization? And as a function leader, how is HR going to deliver the services and practices that support the business strategy?”

A commitment to making the CEO look good is a great strategy, she said.

“It’s a way to earn the trust and respect of the CEO and you’ve got to be able to deliver on that promise. The whole process for HR is to make people feel good about their contribution to the business. That’s about getting the right people, creating and developing the right team and then helping those people to work to the purpose they believe in.

“To be successful, you’ve got to surround people with more good people. You’ve got to create that cross-functional capacity, encourage high performance and accountability.”

Three top tips for creating a partnership:
  • Believe in yourself as a strategic partner
  • Take a balanced, holistic view of your role
  • Work to make the CEO look good

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