Get top management support for your HR initiatives
HR professionals should demonstrate stronger intent and "a bit of guts" when seeking funding for their proposals, says leadership communication specialist Rod Anderson.
Relevance"Make sure what you're talking about - your initiatives - are relevant to the business agenda," Anderson says. "When you are talking in the language of the business, just keep in mind two key words: 'So what?'
"'So what?' (for the CEO), about what you're proposing. 'So what?' (for the CFO). [Thinking about your initiative in that sense] will start to convert it to their language."
He adds that HR must "first seek to understand, then to be understood. When we understand the drivers, then we tailor our pitch to meet those needs, otherwise we're pitching at a different agenda".
"We want to be seen as a trusted advisor, consultant and partner, but we can only do that when we are working on the same agenda."
Good enquiry skills are the key here, he says, but too often HR people "like to talk - we don't like to find out or understand first".
Anderson recommends using a simple, three-question process to start from scratch and get to the core drivers: "What are all the main challenges facing your particular business or department today? Which of those challenges is the most critical? Why is that priority highest, and that one not as high?"
Intent"Once we know what are the drivers and the challenges in the business, we then need to present our ideas with strong intent. Too often our styles are inconsistent with the CEO and CFO, but we need to demonstrate stronger intent - a bit of guts when presenting our solutions."
Typically, he says, CEOs and CFOs have more "direct and analytical" communication styles. HR professionals, on the other hand, are more expressive and amiable (he notes "that is not always the case - the profile is changing").
But while HR professionals probably understand cognitively how to appear more assertive and direct, making it happen is actually much simpler.
Anderson says that if HR managers place their bodies in a certain position - one foot in front, leaning forward, strong eye contact and deliberate hand gestures (from the elbow) - "everything follows" and they cant help but speak with greater conviction.
"Your level of intent and assertion will increase significantly just by taking your body there," he says.
Talk"Do we talk the language of the CEO and the CFO?"
Key words to remember when presenting to the board are "say what?" Anderson says, because HR too often uses jargon that isn't understood by other managers.
"We've got to think about what they're going to understand, because our credibility is on the line."
Evidence"Can we prove that our propositions will actually produce the outcomes that the business is looking for?"
HR needs to back up each proposal and show "that it will do what we've said it will do", Anderson says.
"You've got your opinion; the CEO will have their opinion. We need independent evidence to back up your case that it actually will deliver that ROI that you're promising."
He recommends using case studies that clearly show the situation, approach and outcome.
"Collect your evidence base. Go online to Harvard Business Review. It's all written - there's very few things that we do that haven't been written before. Get your business case - like industries, like approach, business outcomes - that proves to the CFO that what you are saying will produce the results likely for your organisation.
Key words to keep in mind when presenting evidence to support your case are "Says who?" he adds.