I don’t usually do book reviews on Data Point Tuesday. But Ian Ziskin, a high profile CHRO, has written a book and he very kindly sent me a copy. Ian and I both contributed chapters to The Rise of HR: Wisdom from 73 Thought Leaders, edited by Libby Sartain, Bill Schiemann, and Dave Ulrich (2015) from HRCI. I like this book, Three (The Human Resources Emerging Executive). And if you’re in HR, I think you should read it.
The book jacket says “This indispensable text gives emerging HR executives a roadmap for accelerating their overall business effectiveness and establishing their place in the field.” And it does just that in easy-to-digest, practical chapters that cover the whole spectrum of being an effective business and HR leader. Note that business comes before HR. And that’s why I really like this book: his focus on the business.
Ian was the CHRO of 3 Fortune 100 corporations – Northrop Grumman, Qwest Communications and TRW – so he knows whereof he writes. His practical models and approaches ring true. Adding to the mix are academics like John Bourdreau, Wayne Cascio, Jay Conger, Ed Lawler, David Lewin, Dave Ulrich, Al Vicere and Theresa Welcourne. They have all been at the forefront of providing the academic research that underpins today’s HR practices.
The book itself is not a hard read. It is a bit of a workbook that encourages readers to actively engage in the content and in self-reflection. If you’re serious about becoming a CHRO, you should get a copy and get started. If you’re in HR and don’t want to be a CHRO, you should still get a copy and get started.
We all know that the world of HR is transforming before our very eyes. Read this and be prepared for what’s next.
The survey – conducted in May 2012 – included 235 C-level executives, 134 of whom are CEOs. A total of 38 countries were represented from North America (47%), Western Europe (40%), Eastern Europe (8%) and the Middle East (4%). A range of industries were included and half of the companies had $500 million or more in annual revenues. Additionally, 6 in-depth interviews were conducted with 4 CEOs and 2 respected academics.
While the Economist Intelligence Unit authors tried to spin the results in a positive way, there’s just no getting around the conclusion that even big company CHROs are having a hard time getting access to the strategic business discussions at the top of their organizations. While 76% of the surveyed CEOs say their relationship with the head of HR is close and trustful, only 55% report that the head of HR is a key player in strategic planning.
What I found really interesting was the perception by the authors that the way to greater inclusion in strategic decision making is to become “a confidante and informal executive coach” to the CEO. “If the CEO has repeatedly relied on the head of HR for certain important matters, and they still see eye to eye, he or she is more likely to invite the HR head to participate in other areas as a matter of course.” So, developing a personal, “therapeutic” relationship with the CEO is the first best practice the report’s authors recommend. But you’re doomed, I guess, if you don’t see eye to eye.
Becoming liked and trusted by the CEO is the way forward to weighing in on strategic business decisions. This, despite the finding that 50% of the surveyed CEOs spend 5 hours or less a month – in either one-on-one or group settings – with their head of HR. I wonder how you figure out if you even see eye-to-eye in less than 5 hours a month.
The report has lots of interesting – and depressing – data, and you should probably take a look. But I think this gets filed under: Duh!
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s bottom line appears to be that CHROs whose CEOs like them get more involvement in the business. I hope IBM and Oracle didn’t spend big bucks on this research.
*Here’s Sally Field’s famous Oscar acceptance speech: