Ram Charan’s three keys to claiming your seat at the boardroom table

Ram Charan has revealed his three key points to ensure HR leaders earn their seat at the boardroom table.

Speaking at the European HR Directors Summit, Charan noted that HR was not always highly regarded by other leaders within business.

However he said there were three main ways that HR could establish a strong reputation and recognition for its value to the business from boardroom colleagues. They are:

 

Do not use HR jargon.

“Human resources capital is an economic term. Your term is people. Go with your terminology of talent, you own it. Finance people own financial resources.

“Most Nobel prize winners for economics ignored the people side until recently. So the first thing I want to tell you is don’t use the HR jargon.”

 

Get rid of the complexity

“They go laser sharp to no more than three items to focus on. So as you would with your CEO partners, nail down the three highest leverage things to be done. The CFO on Wall Street is questioned about what three things he or she is focusing on.

“You get to the same table. It could be three, it could be four, it could be two, but it’s not a laundry list of 50 different items.

“That complexity makes too many demands with too many things to do. Find the three highest leverage points, it is a mental skill. Practice that.”

 

Get experience somewhere other than HR

“This was common to all the successful CHROs I’ve seen. My sample is not big, but its real. Any function: one year, two years. Somebody in product development, someone in customer service, someone in financial analysis, someone in the integration of mergers and acquisitions.

“The purpose of working elsewhere is they had some kind of line job, some kind of meeting the budget. Sometimes meeting the deadlines, and that gives them a different mindset, a different lens, to look at the business.

“For those who don’t have it, don’t despair. Find a mentor somewhere in the company and say are you willing to take the risk, just give us a chance for a year or two in a non-HR function.”

Charan added that this final point should be done in reverse too, with several major companies already having the process of taking potential leaders at an early age into HR for two or three years.

How to build a great relationship with your CEO

 

The G3

Charan also revealed that in many companies he had worked with he made the CEO, CFO, CHRO sit together and look at the numbers every month.

In this approach they discuss what went well and what did not go well together with the CHRO learning about financial values and the CFO learning about the people values.

“The seat at the table will come as the CEO and CFO see that you are indeed participating in the diagnostics and prediction of where this company’s going to go,” Charan said.

He concluded that it was vital for HR leaders to build a partnership with the CEO and link numbers with the talent.

“The issue is not capital, the issue is not funding, the issue is talent. You can’t be a leader without talent,” he said.

“So you better learn how to fit the talent, how to judge the talent and how to link the talent with the numbers. If you can’t do it you’re not going to succeed.

“In the boardroom you are not there to represent HR, you are there to look at the business as a whole, ask business questions, and at some point they will link with talent. So you’re not at the board with the HR jargon, your there with the board to see the viewpoint of the business as a whole,” he added.

 

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