Thursday, November 18, 2010

Can HR Professional Climb the Corporate Ladder?

There is a strong belief that HR is a support function and HR professionals cannot venture into main stream management  and lead  the vision of a Company . Therefore, there are very  few HR professionals who  attain the position of CEO in a Company.  This notion can easily be changed with a little bit of effort  and focus in a few crucial areas  of overall company management.  In this write up I would cover  some of the important points that would help HR professionals climb the corporate ladder and we could have more and more of HR professionals becoming Board Members and even CEOs. A CEO is a corporate title for the human face of a business. Occupying the seat of CEO of any corporation is a challenging and complex practice. CEO must recognize the value of HR, because if a CEO does not inculcate the culture of hiring the right people at the right time, then he/she  cannot drive an organization in a right direction.


Key Focus Points  To Achieve Top Management Positions

1. Play a significant a role  in driving shareholder value.

Although directly in measurable terms a HR professional cannot drive the shareholder value. But by being the arbiter of corporate culture and by  focusing  a good part of their responsibility on a positive morale about the company across the organization, the HR  professionals can  make sure that people keep working and are always motivated and happy. This will positively contribute  to overall shareholder value.

2. Be an important contributor  to the company’s overall mission.

HR needs to have no illusions about their role in the business. As hard as it may be to accept HR is a service organization that provides support to the business. This is most clear in that HR is a cost center and does not drive revenue. Still  the HR  can be an important contributor to the company’s overall mission by  supporting the business in the way that it needs support and make sure that the business is compliant with laws, rules, regulations, and policies. By helping  the business navigate through these areas to move forward. Do not set up roadBLOCKS rather provide roadSIGNS. By doing this the HR could be perceived more than a support function and looked as partner in the company’s progress.

3. Help  to brand the company as an ‘employer of choice’.

Creating a strong employment brand is important, but also retaining top talent, driving down attrition by helping management understand that empowering employees with information makes it possible for them to take ownership of the company mission. If there is a top-down approach to management in this way then the organization becomes stronger and the employees feel like they made a good choice to work for the company, and the moves in the direction of being "employer of choice".

4. Focus on people and culture and not compliance and policies.

A great HR professional understands the meaning of the two words HUMAN and RESOURCE. That the HR role in the business is all about the people (not ALL ABOUT process, and metrics, and policies) and that the HR organization is a resource to the employee and the management. A mediocre HR professional places too much value on the corporate structure and looks to implement programs and ideas based on some overblown process that is either driven by metrics or cost and loses sight that "people are the true engine of a company, without them the company will fail". Therefore there has to be a greater focus on people and culture and not on compliance and policies. Thus aim to become a great HR professional and not a Mediocre one.

5.  Drive the Line Managers  to be successful in their hiring efforts.

The biggest failure of HR professionals  is not helping the line managers  drive to their desired results. While HR is a service and support organization, this is one area where HR can stop being a lap-dog. By helping the line managers  understand  their recruitment and staffing needs and its urgency, their need to focus on making the hire and making sound decisions in a timely manner. Even if  the line managers drag  their  feet and were to take 3-5 months to hire someone, HR will still be blamed for the length of time it took to make the hire. So as long as HR will take the heat anyway, HR needs to own this process as well and drive the manager to be successful in their hiring efforts.

6. Prepare yourself well  to succeed in other line functions of the Company.

This is very important.  HR professionals  have to be more flexible and more adaptable than any other line managers in the organisation. Because the focus of  HR expertise is the most unpredictable part of the business, which is the  People, the landscape of what the HR professionals  do changes daily. This well prepares HR professionals  to deal with the rest of the business in terms of the adversity they may face entering into new roles and the people they will have to work with. Often time the really great people skills are the one thing that can't be taught. Finance, Marketing, Administration, even engineering, research, and development can be taught.  Understanding people skills is very important to succeed as a line manager and HR professionals are well versed with it.

7. Always try  to meet  the expectations of the line managers.

HR professionals  must understand what  it takes to be an effective business colleague and invest time to gain credibility with the line managers they work with.  They should always try to meet the expectations of the line managers and always under promise and over deliver to them. This certainly helps to spread the popularity of HR professionals in an organization.

8. Drive people to make great decisions and see the big picture.

 Great HR professionals get their hands dirty in the day to day work of HR. This would help them grow up the corporate ladder and be able to sit comfortably as the CEO. Additionally, they may come to understand the business very well. A CEO role that is all about managing a team and taking the company towards success should be something that a great HR professional can do well. Driving people to make great decisions and see the big picture.

9. Always aim to report to the CEO.

 Jack Welch of GE often talks about the true value of HR  function and what it brings  to the table and how important and undervalued it is by many of his peers. He has been quoted as saying, "If you are the top HR professional in a company and don't report directly to the CEO then get out." He means that the CEO has to have that regular visibility and view into his company from HR's perspective. Without that he may make great money and business decisions for the company, but if those decisions feed back  negatively on his workers then he knows that leads towards failure.  This summarizes the importance of reporting to the CEO for both . the HR professional and for the CEO himself.

In conclusion, it can be said with a proper focus on all the above mentioned points, there is no reason why a HR professional cannot move up the corporate ladder and occupy a Board seat or a position as A CEO in an organization. There have been a good number of HR people who have moved into CEO roles.
 In almost all of these cases I, they have moved laterally into other executive roles, before being appointed into the CEO role. In my view, it would be very difficult and unlikely to be promoted without having had P&L responsibility for a division or part of the business. Therefore it is important that Hr professionals desiring to move up the corporate ladder  should aim at having some operational line management responsibilities, before moving ahead.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Even though directly in quantifiable terms a HR professional cannot drive the saver value. But by life form the arbiter of business culture and by focusing a good part. assignment services

  3. informative post! I really like and appreciate your work, thank you for sharing such a useful facts and information about financial skills in hrm strategies, keep updating the blog, hear i prefer some more information about jobs for your career hr jobs in hyderabad .

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. It can seem strange and even bad in modern society, but I don't want to be a manager. I don't want to climb the professional corporal ladder. I'm so good with the place where I'm now, I don't want to change it. Still, every single of the reviews on Top essay writing say it's really stupid and bad.