For all you aspiring Vice Presidents of Human Resources I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that CEOs are recognizing the importance of HR. The bad news is that they are tapping non-HR executives to fill those roles. According to an article in the June 23rd issue of The Wall Street Journal more and more large companies are opting to fill the head HR position with executives who “know the business” as opposed to an HR professional who “… can get hung up in the process and forget what the goal is.” These large companies that have tapped non-HR execs to head HR include Microsoft, Qwest, Avnet and athenahealth. (A side note to yesterday’s post on Aggressive Recruiting. Microsoft is aggressively going after Yahoo employees. Perhaps this is because Microsoft’s chief HR person was running a business unit and took this competitive approach to HR.)
The article said this trend reflects “… a perception that some traditional HR professionals lack the deep understanding of business and financial issues that CEOs increasingly want.” The article quoted a headhunter saying “Many organizations are looking for their HR leader to be able to understand in great detail the business and the challenges of the business.” Well this as always been a complaint about HR and the self-admitted shortcoming of many people in HR.
So how do you keep this from happening to you? Here are my recommendations:
- Get out of human resources! No not permanently, but try to take on some other responsible role in your organization in order to learn the operational side of the business.
- Learn the financials of your business, of business in general. If you skipped those finance classes in school go get the education.
- If you can’t move within your company, take on a responsibile role on a volunteer board. Take a leadership role. (I posted about this earlier here.)
- Pay attention to your industry beyond the HR aspects. Read industry periodicals. Read the marketing and operations stuff.
- Track trends. Become a futurist.
- Speak up! Make observations, make suggestions. Get paid attention to. Be a resource for solutions in general.
- Take on the hard assignments. Volunteer.
- Lastly, do what you are currently doing VERY WELL. If you don’t know your own craft and you do slip-shod work no one is going to care what else you do.
Well those are just a few suggestions. What else should be on this list?