Until last week’s post about Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to end telecommuting, the post below from March 18, 2011 was the most read of all my posts. Interesting.
RE: News flash!
Date: March 18, 2011
Guess what? Your CEO probably gets it.
I know HR pros like to kvetch about the C-Suite in their organizations:
- “My CEO doesn’t get it.”
- “The CEO and CFO run the business like people are widgets.”
- “I can’t get the C-Suite interested in cutting edge HR solutions.”
Those days are over, friends. I’ve met and talked with a number of CEOs lately. CEOs from Fortune 200 companies, medium-sized companies and start-ups. I’ve been struck by the conversations we’ve had. Because in each case, these CEOs exhibit many of the behaviors HR pros are looking for from their CEOs. Here are some of the signs:
1. Talent acquisition/development comes up early in a conversation about their top challenges.
2. They have done reading – or in some cases, writing – about corporate culture and are actively involved in leading a change in their organization’s culture.
3. They have embraced the research of an OD or culture expert/guru whose work they are integrating into their culture and language.
4. Succession planning is among the top issues on which their leadership team is working.
5. Employee engagement is critical to them. They know the scores of their organization’s most recent employee attitude survey and are peering over the shoulders of their operations leaders to ensure the opportunities for improvement are moving forward — in line with the culture change work they’re leading.
6. Supervisors/managers are measured by how well they manage the performance and development of their people.
7. Diversity/inclusion enters the conversation early when talking about culture.
But here’s the thing, HR. This is a trend. We’re going to see more and more of these behaviors from CEOs as we experience the pending generational shift in the ultimate C-Suite in organizations large and small.
So here’s the big question: Are you ready? Are you ready to be evidence-based in your leadership? Are you ready to base organization and business solutions on current research and analytics? I hope so. Because the next generation of CEOs – as well as some in the current generation as my experience indicates – while they’re beginning to focus on what HR would say are the right issues, they’re still the CEO. They’re still all about the numbers. Outcomes. Growth. Quality. They still need fact and data to support their decision making. That’s not going to change. And if they don’t get that fact and data from HR where are they going to get it?
CEOs don’t really make critical decisions much by “gut feel” and that probably won’t change. Ever. Sure, some may be more spontaneous than others. Some may be more extroverted than others. And some may actually sound like HR professionals. But they’re still CEOs. They still have to deliver top and bottom line performance this quarter and next. And they have to have a plan for the longer horizon – a plan that is based on real data and supported by the current set of facts.
Where would the average HR professional begin to source useful research data and analytics? SHRM, CIPD, ASTD, WorldatWork – all the large HR-related professional associations are investing more and more into their research capabilities. They all conduct and publish top notch research in every aspect of the people domain in organizations. They want their members to embrace more rigorous and sound methodologies. Heck. They’re pleading with their members to be consumers of relevant research because they know the day of reckoning is approaching.
Other organizations like The Conference Board, the Corporate Executive Board and Bersin & Associates all publish extraordinary research that enable HR to make fact-based decisions and to get HR metrics aligned with financial metrics. Free sources of actionable research-based data include the SHRM Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and innumerable non-profit organizations that cover the waterfront of issues and functions.
Since more and more CEOs are “getting” the fact that people and culture are critical to business success, is HR “getting” that in order to respond to this CEO movement in their direction, they need to be making movement into the fact and data-based world of the CEO? I surely hope so.
It’s past time to get comfortable with research and analytics — and making them actionable.