The future of the HR industry is bright. As long as people continue to work and interact with each other in the workplace and as the economy continues to improve, there will continue to be plenty for us to do. Talent, which is our domain, is the number one priority for the typical CEO. We are responsible for recruiting and retaining our companies’ number one asset. In order to build credibility and establish our expertise, we have to speak not only the language of HR but the language of our senior business leaders.
The 3 Skills You Need
Your path to the board room starts with developing these skills by learning and gaining experience in these three areas starting today.
You have to be able to sell yourself and your ideas. It’s not about being aggressive and making a hard sale. It is understanding that every conversation you have, every relationship you build, every single interaction with your senior leadership is an opportunity to move you and your HR and talent acquisition goals forward. You know what you are doing. You are the HR expert. Having sales skills will help you speak the language of the executives and help showcase what you have to offer, your value, all while reminding yourself that you are working towards a long-term goal.
You need to approach every interaction with a sales mind. In many sales departments you hear the phrase “always be closing,” often referred to as the ABCs. This goes for you in your interactions with your leadership. Be aware, alert and prepared. Always be willing and able to close that sale. Know the value you offer and always be willing to present and discuss it with confidence.
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It can start with something as simple as reading your company’s profit and loss statement or intentionally spending time with operations to understand what reports and metrics are most important for your CEO. You need to gain a good understanding of these things. Study them, ask questions and do your homework. Listen to their verbiage and words while focusing on the ways that what you do in HR plays into them and has a role in the bigger picture of the overall organization
This one can be interchangeable with whatever the current topic of interest or popular hobby is for your senior staff. Do what you need to do to learn the skills and be competitive at it. Take private lessons, read books and attend competitions. Learn the language so that you can be part of conversations that seem leisurely where business is taking place. Weather it stops there or gets you invited along (which is where you will need to not only talk the talk but walk the walk and those private lessons will have been made worth it), it puts you on a different level with the senior staff. It makes your interactions more personal and they can begin to see you on their level.
What it all boils down to is knowledge, confidence and being relatable. When you possess these qualities and then show them to your senior leadership, you put yourself in a new spot where interactions and teamwork become easier. In turn, having them on your side will make your job easier. The importance of what you do will be recognized and appreciated.