Article (November-2017)


What CEO wants from HR

Subramanian Iyer

Designation : -   Senior Advisor

Organization : -  Employers Federation of India, Mumbai


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We being in the field of HR have always been involved in the functions of recruitment, selection, induction, manpower planning, employee engagement, PMS, training and development, grievance handling, employee counseling, industrial relations, compensation management and have felt that by fulfilling these duties as assigned in our position is perceived to be quite stable. If one views it from the global perspective, the HR functions have undergone unprecedented change and if these changes are not taken cognizance the department simply ceases to exist. With a bigger salary structure, perks, compensation benefits, the CEO expects the HR leaders to redefine their roles and their contribution to an enterprise. How often do you find the Vice President of Human Resources involved in discussions of new markets, acquisitions, and shareholder value? Not often. With HR "transactional" areas like benefits, compensation, recruitment and training are increasingly outsourced; the role of senior HR officials is evolving change in a new dimension. Today, CEOs want HR professionals enthusiastically work for the business, a strong presence among their peers, professional compatibility with top executives, and down to earth savvy. In other words, the CEO expects the department of HR to be a revenue center apart from taking adequate care of people who are skilled, educated, talented & knowledgeable.

However, some employees still believe that HR is the place to get free therapy, happiness, corporate welfare. CEOs, on the other hand, expect HR professionals to build organizations systems, processes, methods for the company to make it extremely competitive. They want a balanced report card on how the organization attends to employee satisfaction and retention.

CEOs expect the HR professionals to sit in their offices not to discharge routine/ monotonous functions but come out with exemplary ideas to make the enterprise more productive and innovative. They do not want a trendy fad or catchy training session. The CEO also wants to know who the upcoming stars are and how they are being developed and retained. Business units expect HR people to staff their areas adroitly with a combination of full time, part time and help from outside. Finding, keeping, rewarding and measuring results people produce is a singular criterion of success for some HR of business units.

Often HR pros are perceived as only able to deal with the softer side of business because they are diplomatic, typically positive in outlook and gracious. Others are mocked as the "people police" who demand proper paper processes.
The CEO, by contrast, requires an adviser who tells him or her what the key people issues are, and who rigorously influences him or her with solutions. Sometimes this uncommon role means unfamiliar accountability and risk. The CEO, however, needs HR to add value to every function in the company, rather than merely define by reducing head count.
In response to the customer expectations, the pace of change, employee demographics, the need to hold on to intellectual capital and support global human resources needs, HR professionals have a definitive strategic role, have gained more attention, been asked to do more, and are partnering with management to frame competitive strategies. K. Wayne a Vice President of HR offers this advice : “Know not just what the company does, but how it does it”. Observe how colleagues in other departments report their performance. “Strive to quantify all facets of HR to determine what works and what doesn't.”
Outcomes CEOs expect are a well - executed HR strategy, an efficient corporate infrastructure, an increase in employee commitment and capability and organizational renewal. To successfully deliver on these goods, HR is advised to know the CEO well and tide over the obstacles to get the resources they need to solve their company problems.
To have full credibility HR initiatives is collaboration with senior executives putting their influence behind the initiatives. CEOs and other executives need credible HR partners who know the dynamic intersection of business results, customer expectations and people performance.
To borrow from an unattributed source, the "real" HR professional apart from his academic qualifications and core experience needs to have this kind of profile. 
  • The brain of Narayana Moorthy.
  • The Charisma of Ratan Tata.
  • The negotiating skills of A.M. Naik.
  • The marketing skills of Narendra Modi.
  • The soul of Mother Teresa.
  • The stamina of Dhirubhai Ambani.
With the advent of technology, the department of HR need not fear these intelligent machines but work with them productively by using creativity. They need to reinvent & adapt to changes quickly, correctly before they could consider changing the mind set of their employees.
Finally, I would like to state that Human Resource was there earlier, present today & will continue to exist in the future till the time the employees are on the organization's rolls. HR needs not only to change with the changing times but reinvent itself to become one of the core departments of any organization.