The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

The Seat at the Proverbial Table

conference table

HR has been talking about getting a seat at the table, by that they refer to the decision-making management table. Your HR person should want to be involved with corporate direction, and use this information to interact with employees and ensure that your goals can be met with human capital needs. As a leader, you must have an understanding and appreciation of HR beyond the world of administration to even consider inviting HR as a valuable member of your leadership team.

At the same time, there is an expectation of HR professionals that they take charge of this relationship. The HR executive today must position herself as a business partner that can bring a fresh eye to many business conversations, not an administrator who is not stuck in tactical HR operations. All executives must view HR as a part of the leadership team. Without this connection to leadership, HR is likely to miss opportunities if they do not participate in decision making from the beginning.

David Ulrich is a leading author, researcher and professor of modern human resources. Ulrich’s team presented a Human Resource Competency Study in 2012 that identifies six domains of HR competency.  According to this study, The New Skills of a HR Business Partner will need to include:

  • Credible Activist
  • Strategically Positioned
  • Capability Builder
  • Change Champion
  • HR Integrator and Innovator
  • Technology Proponent

In addition to the list provided in Ulrich’s research, there is a great deal of conversation on the topic of what is needed from HR leaders today. The shift is clearly away from the administrative cost center. CEO’s consistently say they value HR professionals that are aligned with the strategic goals and aspire to drive the business forward. Literature specific to the topic of HR leadership consistently highlights the common competencies of a HR executive as:

  • Trusted advisor
  • Executive, not manager
  • Possessing business knowledge in technology, finance, sales and operations
  • Innovator
  • Vendor Manager

Both lists provide us with the values that can be seen in all business professionals, and the members of executive times. If your HR leader does not embody these qualifications, it may be time to consider if you have the right leader in place to drive your human capital initiatives forward.

Open, honest conversations should occur with your HR team regarding your desires for the human resources function. The competencies in these lists are the new building blocks of the 21st century and HR professionals must embrace them, or get out of the way of the leadership team.


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