How to Impress the CEO


When presenting your HR accomplishments state them in financial terms.
When presenting your HR accomplishments state them in financial terms.

A conversation held at a small software presentation was related to me the other day. It is a perfect example of the kind of mistake that HR makes in trying to institute metrics in the HR department. From this mistake you will learn how to impress the CEO.
The scenario
The presenter related an experience one of their customers had. The HR department was trying mightily to improve their performance. They had put metrics in place and paid attention to the fact that it took them 58 days to bring someone onboard after an opening was created. They worked hard to improve their processes and over a period of months of improvements decreased the number of days to hire to 37 days, a monumental decrease or improvement in their eyes. So the CHRO produced a report and proudly went to the CEO to report this improvement. With a beaming face the CHRO announced they had reduced time-to-hire to 37 days and then stood back to receive the accolades of the CEO.
Was the CEO impressed?
Unfortunately for the poor CHRO the reaction they got from the CEO was “What? You mean it takes 37 days to hire someone in this company???” As you can imagine the CEO was less than enchanted and sent the CHRO out of the office stammering and red-faced with their tail between their legs.
How could this have been better presented?
This CHRO fell flat on their face not because this was not a great improvement but rather because they presented it poorly. They presented in the language of HR and not in the language of the CEO. The CHRO would have been better served presenting this in term of percentage reduction in time and the dollar figures associated with this reduction. Saying “We have cut time-to-hire by 37% resulting in a cost savings of $400,000 over an annual period” is a much more powerful statement to the CEO. The time reduction was an HR activity until translated into financial savings.
Be aware of how you present your accomplishments
The presenter at this presentation, who was not an HR professional, said “HR people are always complaining about getting a seat at the table. They need to stop, they have it. What they need to do now is show that they deserve that seat by being presenting the right things.” Executive boards are not interested in HR activities. They are interested in money made and money saved and everything you do needs to be couched in those terms.

3 thoughts on “How to Impress the CEO”

  1. Mike,
    This information is priceless to HR practitioners if they would take it to heart! The buzz for decades has been to be a ‘business partner’. In order to do that speak in terms of the business which is operations and financial. Your example to show quantitate metrics and financial results gets people’s attention and relates to being a partner to the organization verses a transactional professional. Great post!

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