How to Approach the C-Suite with an HR-Related Value Proposition
There has been quite a bit of discussion at HR conferences, associations, and blogs that has been focused on Human Resources gaining the attention of the C-Suite. Numerous articles and studies have concentrated on Why HR should get invited to strategically share in the business decisions of the top floor, but rarely have we seen the How mentioned. You may be a newly hired HR Director at a 100,000 employee company or an HR associate at a 50 employee company and have never previously had the opportunity to approach the C-Suite with your ideas and strategy. After all, waltzing into a boardroom, where your top executives are collaborating on everything from bricks and mortar to finances, to present your latest idea or solution proposal, may seem a little intimidating. So, before we have a conversation about all the excellent reasons as to why we should implement a new system, make a change to policies and procedures, solve a problem, or ask for a larger budget, let’s take a step back and look at some tips on How to approach the C-Suite.
Understanding today’s business climate and your executives’ schedule is a good start. Take into account the extremely fast pace of business - staying one step ahead of your competition, accomplishing more with less, needing it done yesterday, increasing profits, balancing multiple meetings and a busy travel schedule. This is what your executives breathe on a daily basis and what you have to contend with to get noticed by your C-Suite. Be prepared to bring your “A” game to your meeting - a value proposition that is solid, has concrete facts, and evidence to back it up is necessary. If you truly believe in what you are presenting, whether it’s improving results or solving a problem, you can make it happen. So let’s discuss the How.
Do Your Homework - Not only on the item you want to present, but also do your homework on your own organization. What direction is your organization heading? Does resolving the problem coincide with the goals of your organization? Have you experimented with the proposed solution via a trial period? What are the project time frames? Is your organization losing money because of process inefficiencies, and if so, how much? Are there any compliance risks associated with your business case? What similar organizations have already implemented your proposed solution and are they benefitting from it? For specifics on building a solid business case check out one of our prior blogs here.
Time Is Crucial - As discussed above, executives don’t have a lot of time, so use your time with them wisely. Start with presenting facts and statistics that prove the need for change. Keep it high level. If your C-Suite wants to know more, they will ask questions and will dictate the time.
Stay Focused and Concise – You may have ran into the owner of your organization or your CEO in the break room this morning while grabbing a bagel and enjoyed some small talk with them, but your meeting is the time to focus on what you feel would benefit the organization the most and ultimately impact your employees and bottom line. Keep the discussion about the topic, unless they want to turn the conversation towards your new dog or workout regimen.
It’s Not About You - Make sure that when you are presenting your challenge you have personal experiences ready to share, if asked. However, be careful that you do not make it all about you. Remember that this new system you would like to implement is for the benefit of the entire organization. It’s not about how many times you have failed to hit Save on your excel spreadsheets! How will your change make a difference?
Share Your Solution With Others First - Talk to others within your department about your new idea. Ask them to poke holes into your idea, and be open to their feedback. It’s likely they will ask you questions that you may have not thought of before. Try to find other “believers” in your organization that share your same thoughts and buy in to your idea.
Believe In Your Idea, and Believe In Yourself - Emotion is addictive. Feeling confident in your solution that you are bringing to the table for the betterment of your organization can be exciting. Exude your confidence and excitement that this change will be for the better. Have the data to back up your facts, and be open and professional towards the feedback you may receive.
If Your Project Is Not Considered – This does not mean it’s dead in the water. It may be a timing or a budgeting issue, and you may have a better chance next time because you have already planted the seed. If you’re asked to go back and do more research, consider this a win! If your project is not earning top priority status, consider it a minor road bump towards progress.
Every day you will be approached by numerous advertisements, emails, and calls about how to improve your business. Filtering through all of this will seem daunting, but you ultimately know what will benefit your department, employees and organization. Always look for new ideas, new technology, and strategies that can set your department and yourself apart from others, and improve your bottom line. Have a good basis for “How” to approach the decision makers in your organization. Utilizing some of the tips above will propel you on the right track. Don’t be afraid of change, and don’t be afraid to continue to push your organization forward.
Want to learn more about elevating HR to the C-Suite? Join us for a webinar on February 11, "Using Absence Analytics to Elevate HR to the C-Suite."