A Seat At the Table

For decades, many in the field of Human Resources have been seeking the proverbial “seat at the table,” a place in the esteem of those in the C-suite and participation in the strategic decision making process of the organization.
Has anyone ever asked:  If you had a seat at the table, what would you do with it?
To me, the answer is quite clear: HR needs to add value.
But what does that oft-used phrase, added value, really mean?  The key to grasping what “added value” means is to recognize that it is always in the eyes of the customer.
So, as many (such as David Ulrich) have said, HR has to re-think itself, indeed must transform itself.  Here are some questions to start the HR transformation:
* Who are HR’s customers?
* What do they want from HR?
* What does “value” mean to them?
To learn more about adding value, HR would do well to study marketing.  Marketing blogger Eric Tsai offers eight ideas for creating brand value. His first tip is: Stay on top of your customer’s needs. Tsai also says:  Try new ideas and Improve experience.
With Tsai’s post as a starting point, I’d suggest this acronym, WCBS, as a way to keep a few key things in mind throughout the process of working with your customers:
W = Why – Ask the question “Why?” as often as you need to. This question will delve into the reasons behind a customer’s request and clarify the purpose toward which they aspire.  The importance of Why cannot be overstressed. ( Consultant Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, argues well for engaging others around purpose, values, and beliefs.)
C = Customer – Be as customer-focused as you can at every step in a project, including the Customer in the work wherever possible.
B = Business – Stay mindful of the business and how it will benefit by the policy, program, or change. Think like an owner of the business as you do your work. Ask yourself, If I owned this business, what would I do? Also, be easy to do business with.
S = Stakeholders, System, and Sustainability – The “S” has several critical meanings:  Be mindful of all the stakeholders who have an interest in the change. Be mindful of the system and remember that everything and everyone is interconnected. Think beyond the initiative itself, beyond the goal and the deliverable, to the question of sustaining the change into the future.
If HR did a good job on really getting to know their customers, built a trusted relationship, and understood the customer’s needs and problems– chances are the key stakeholders, including the C-Suite, would have a favorable perception of HR. And would even want HR sitting at the table.
This article was written by Terrence Seamon. For more on consulting, leadership, purpose, and engagement, check out Terry’s facebook page, Facilitation Solutions,  and his blog Here We Are. Now What?

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