Five Things Every CEO Should Do In Support Of HR
Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with people leaders leading companies of all industries, sizes and geographies. While most of my efforts were related to the use of technologies in these organizations, I also learned a thing or two about what it takes to be a great people leader.
Ask any people leader, and I’ll bet that they’ll tell you that the past 18 months have challenged them in unimaginable ways. While that’s probably true for all of us, we’ve asked these folks to do yeoman’s work through the pandemic.
As a CEO myself, I’ve also reflected on how vitally important it is for us to support our people teams. With that said, here’s my take on five ways that every CEO needs to support their people leadership team in a post-pandemic world:
Know When To Take The Lead
I’ve talked to many people leaders who have scars from trying to lead in the absence of support from the CEO. It’s not the job of human resources (HR) to make the case for when and how employees work in the office vs. at home. The people leader should be the eyes and ears of the culture within the organization and prompt the CEO to take action (when sometimes he or she doesn’t see it directly).
I’ve seen too many blog posts, Facebook comments and Tweets suggesting that CEOs think they can delegate this work to HR — you can’t, and you shouldn’t. The hardest part of this work belongs to the CEO, and in this, we need to resist the temptation to delegate. If you can’t figure out why you can’t stop yourself, you might want to consider finding a coach to help you through it.
Advocate For Digitalization
Your competitors recognized the need to leverage technology during the pandemic; it exposed all of the flaws in workplace operations, and in many cases, presented real opportunities. If you continue to resist the need to have a clear technology strategy and the support your people operations team needs to deliver it, you’ll be left behind. Employers of choice will have technology that supports the culture, enhances the employee experience and gives HR the opportunity to scale the business as it grows.
Adapt And Change
A strong people team will help you identify how, when and where leadership approaches need to respond to changing dynamics in the workplace. There was never a time when openness to change was more necessary or important for a CEO in the support of people and culture initiatives. When your HR team approaches you about how the business needs to evolve in a post-pandemic world, listen more and speak less.
None of us know what the world of work will look like in a year. It might go back to something looking like 2019, but my bet is that in some fundamental ways, it has changed forever. If you’re the person who likes things the way they’ve always been, wake up. Your cheese has been moved, and you’d best chase it.
Make Your People Leader A Trusted Advisor
Make sure you have the right person in this seat. There needs to be deep trust, alignment of philosophy and shared values. When the two are in sync, delegation from the CEO can be effective, and you can challenge one another on who should be “on first.” A trusted advisor has the potential to expand your leadership capacity, reinforce cultural values and advance your efforts to be an employer of choice. Don’t settle for less.
Recognize The Effort
Most importantly, take a moment and recognize the folks who have supported you in HR over the past 18 months. Many of them have balanced the enormous stresses of the job with their own lives (and no one has had it easy at home during the pandemic).
Ask yourself how these people like to be recognized, and choose an approach that will thrill and delight them! I’ve talked to way too many HR leaders in the past six months who are overworked, overstressed and under-recognized. Make sure you’re doing your part.
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