The long road to the executive boardroom

By Daphne Woolf
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/04/2003

What can HR professionals do when they want to do more than push paper and jump from one administrative crisis to another? How can they position themselves as strategic partners within the business? How does one raise the personal profile, and the profile of the HR department, so that HR’s input becomes integral to most business decisions? These are important questions that most HR professionals still grapple with. However there is both a short and a long answer.

The short answer is the CEO. One senior vice-president of HR told me that his role is to coach the CEO — period. For a CEO to not only acknowledge he needs coaching, but to actually have someone with an HR title allocated to that function, is an indication of an enlightened organization. If the chief executive officer has a philosophy that recognizes the importance of people in securing business success, consider yourself lucky because HR is probably already playing a strategic role.

More often than not however, HR is faced with the long road and the tough answers — many CEOs need to be pushed, pulled and prodded into acting on their acknowledgement of the importance of people, and therefore the HR department, in securing business success. In these cases, HR has a lot of work to do to ensure it can do more than put out administrative fires. The key is for HR to focus on developing greater connectivity between the business and people strategies.