How to Measure Your Value in HR: You Gotta Show Your Executive Team

HR is all about showing the executive team the value you bring.

I kind of have a couple of creeds or philosophies I live my life by:

  1. Make decisions quickly. Gives you time to adjust if the decision was wrong – if you wait – the decision will usually be made for you.
  2. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

As you can imagine (being an HR Pro) these have come back to bite me a time or two, but not so bad that I couldn’t recover. One very valuable thing this philosophy has shown me over time, especially in corporate settings, is how HR as a function was valued by the organization.

When you go out and put your thoughts and ideas out on the line, and make the best decisions possible to move your department and organization forward – and someone slaps your wrist for doing it – guess what? You – you being HR – is probably not highly valued in your organization.

Being “strategic,” as we all are told we must be to be an HR Pro, means making decisions that make your organization better. It doesn’t mean putting together really good training programs, or delivering an excellent performance management process, or launching a new exit interview process. These are tasks that any HR Pro worth their salt can deliver.

Forget the “seat at the table”

But having the respect/influence of your organization – that you can make decisions that impact the talent level of your organization – that’s strategy, that’s value, that’s having a seat … wait, screw the seat at the table. I’d rather have decision-making power that impacts my organization positively from the financial side than have some stupid seat around a table full of directors waiting to be told where we are going.

Am I saying if you don’t make decisions in your organization you’re not adding value?

Well yes, kind of. Just doing your normal HR tasks isn’t adding value; it’s performing a service that can be outsourced to one of thousands of companies who are constantly trying to sit down in front of your CEO and show how they can do your job better and cheaper. Taking the weight of people decisions off your CEO’s back is adding value, or at least perceived value in their eyes (and perception equals reality in all 50 states, except Puerto Rico).

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It’s about showing the value you bring

I’m not telling you to mass e-mail your company right now and explain how you decided to begin hiring again. What I’m saying is you need to go to your executive team and show them.

Here is how I want to run my department/function/etc. and here is what financial impact it’s going to bring to our organization. Here’s my timeline to begin. Here’s how I’ll keep you all informed on the progress. Are there any questions? Then shut up and wait.

You might be amazed at what happens — especially if they fire you on the spot — but I don’t think that will happen. What I think will happen is some pretty dynamic conversation around the people side of your business – and you’ll be at the center of it.

But, I’ll let you decide…

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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