Want to Be Seen as Strategic? Maybe It’s Time HR Looked to the CFO

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HR professionals worry a lot about whether their CEO thinks they are strategic business leaders.

Turns out it isn’t the CEO that HR professionals need to worry about. It’s the CFO.

This is according to global survey data collected from three Oracle/IBM sponsored research reports produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit in April and May 2012. CEOs made up 57 percent and CFOs made up 43 percent of the 235 respondents.

These aren’t great numbers for HR

The resulting infographic is one of the more readable and useful ones of its type that I’ve seen. Among the data points:

  • 80 percent of CEOs and CFOs want the head of HR to be key in their company’s strategy planning.
  • Only 38 percent of those CEOs and CFOS say that is currently the case.
  • Only 10 percent say the head of HR is “extremely” key in strategic planning right now.
  • Only 37 percent of CEOs and CFOs say their relationship with the head of HR is “close and trustful.”
  • Just 28 percent of CEOs and CFOs say their relationship with the head of HR is among their “most valued” professional relationships.

But here are the real zingers:oracle-driving-hr-forward-infographic-march-2013

Does the CFO support the HR chief?


But here’s the real irony: CFOs are more confident about HR’s understanding the needs of the business than they are about the business of HR! There is low confidence by CFOs that HR can lead the HR function, can evaluate employee performance, or can identify and recruit key talent.

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That’s not good news – especially since CFOs spend significantly more time with CEOs than CHROs do. I wonder what the CFO and CEO are talking about with regard to HR? Is the CFO supporting the CHRO?

Given this survey data, I wonder.

Maybe CEOs aren’t HR’s biggest challenge after all. Maybe CFOs are the ones toward whom HR professionals should be aiming their strategic attention. Maybe instead of pining after furniture, HR should be pining after spreadsheets!

This originally appeared on China Gorman’s blog at ChinaGorman.com.

China Gorman is a successful global business executive in the competitive Human Capital Management (HCM) sector. She is a sought-after consultant, speaker and writer bringing the CEO perspective to the challenges of building cultures of humanity for top performance and innovation, and strengthening the business impact of Human Resources.

Well known for her tenure as CEO of the Great Place to Work Institute, COO and interim CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and President of Lee Hecht Harrison, China works with HCM organizations all over the world to enhance their brands and their go-to-market strategies. Additionally, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Jobs for America’s Graduates as well as the Advisory Boards of Elevated Careers, the Workforce Institute at Kronos, and WorldBlu. Addtionally, she chairs the Globoforce WorkHuman Advisory Board and the Universum North America Board. China is the author of the popular blog Data Point Tuesday, and is published and frequently quoted in media properties like Fortune, TLNT, Huffington Post, Inc., Fast Company, U.S. News & World Report and many others.