Ignite the HR Advantage

Ignite the HR Advantage

The competition for attracting & retaining top talent is the toughest it’s been in 50 years! I asked expert Human Resource professionals what advice they had for CEOs who want to leverage HR to win the talent war and achieve the organization’s goals.  What they said, what I learned, and how to ignite the HR advantage. That’s what we’re talking about in today’s podcast.

As a coach to high potential and valued leaders within high-growth companies, I regularly seek out meaningful resources within the organization. Whether it’s a start-up with venture investors, mid-size, or Fortune 500 companies, I’ve seen a pattern for years. HR is often left out. Given HR exists to oversee all things related to managing an organization’s human capital, I wanted to understand what could be getting in the way and how to solve for that.

So I went to HR Leaders on LinkedIn and asked one question “What advice do you have for leaders who want to Leverage HR to win the talent war and achieve their organization’s goals?”.  It seemed like straightforward research, but the answers led to an important insight.

The 6 areas of advice from HR leaders to CEO’s are:

  1. Trust HR with more than legal compliance (we want more than compliance, disciplinary & hiring/firing protocols)
  2. Provide a seat at the leadership table (where strategy is set & resources allocated to get things done)
  3. Share the organization’s goals (how can we help if we only know headcount goals)
  4. Ask the head of HR for a clear plan to achieve business goals (we have the expertise, education, and experience to impact goals through people)
  5. Facilitate conversations with C-level executives (we are left out, including us)
  6. Fund HR Budget to accomplish goals (without money we can’t get things done)

My first reaction was ‘great advice’.  My second thought was, “Why aren’t CEOs doing these?”  Having worked with leaders at all levels in hard-charging industries like financial services and law firms, the advice from HR leaders is an indicator that CEOs and senior leaders aren’t thinking about HR as true business partners who can help them achieve the company’s goals. Don’t shoot the messenger and don’t stop listening. If you want to influence CEOs and senior leaders, stay with me till the end.

Make note: As an HR leader, you know that behavior is directly linked to beliefs. In my line of work, it’s “follow the money and the beliefs” to get to the bottom of behavior! How can HR shift their behavior to influence senior leader’s beliefs about the value of HR?

Coincidentally, while reviewing the data from our “HR Advice to CEO’s’ survey, I received a webinar from Talent Strategy Group on their 2019 Global HR Census.  Check this out. 1,200 respondents answered their survey asking among other things where is HR now and where is it moving to.

Here are the 4 big findings from the 2019 HR Global survey. At first look, it answered my question why many CEO’s haven’t embraced HR and I immediately saw this huge opportunity for HR to step into:

People First, Business Second:

  • People get into HR for humanistic work & balanced work life. The data said, “HR is not in business to help achieve business goals.”
  • If this is true for you, don’t expect to ever get a seat at the table.


  • If you want to change this, ask yourself:
    • “How can I align my passion to help people, with achieving business goals? How can I learn the business side?”
    • If you are committed to people & business results: “how can you show senior executives that your work impacts people achieving business goals?”

Next Generation Skills Gap:

  • The lack of business knowledge results in weak influence skills, which impacts everything from people initiatives to budget.
  • HR has not embraced or shown initiative in providing data that shows business-altering information.
  • If this is true for you, you won’t get asked for HR’s plan to achieve the organization’s goals. You’ll get directives from the C-suite executives on the goals they believe you can impact – likely legal compliance.


  • Go to the C-suite executives ask for their organization’s strategy, create an HR plan that aligns with their plan, and clearly helps them impact their organization’s goals.
  • Be sure to get feedback from the C-suite bench, ask them what’s on target and what needs more work.

Tempered Ambition:

  • Only 3 in 10 want the CHRO job.
  • Only 4% are interested in being a CEO.
  • This is likely another reason HR isn’t being invited to the table.


  • If HR doesn’t want to lead at the highest levels, who can you invite from the C/level or from another area to rotate into HR?
  • If you want to be a CHRO, create a plan to get the business skills that will make you a high-value HR player.

Engaged, Rested & Ready:

  • Responses showed high agreement when asked about being engaged, rested, and ready.


  • This indicates there is room for extra effort: given your goals…where will you put yours?


Now What?

When I read the 6 pieces of advice that HR Leaders had for CEOs, I noted that each one of them was asking for permission vs leading and influencing the outcomes necessary to win the talent war and achieve their organization’s goals.


First: Decide If You Want to Lead or Be Led

  1. Ask yourself, “How can I make the most of my extra capacity, do I want to invest in my professional value?” “How can I gain enough knowledge to make a positive impact on people and business?”
  2. If you want to lead, determine 1 – 3 goals that while being accomplished will add meaningful value to your organization, your boss, and all the people who are looking to HR to accelerate business results.
  3. Get an experienced success partner or coach. Pick someone who can help you fine-tune your goals, who can coach you to understand the mindset of senior business leaders, and advise you on ways to become a valued and priceless HR partner!

Those of you who take these 3 steps will be on your way to igniting the HR Advantage, getting a seat at the leadership table, and giving your organizations and the people who work there an immense competitive advantage!


Ready for More?

To listen to more podcasts like this, please visit McCauleyandCo.com/podcast.  Also, check out our online Blueprint for High Performing Leaders self-study program for yourself or members of your team. I walk you through your leadership purpose –  including goals, challenge you to invest in your professional self, and give you proven tools to coach your team to achieve their goals.

If you are serious about getting a seat at the leadership table,  e-mail me at grow@mccauleyandco.com. I’ll send you a complimentary chapter of  ‘Your Leadership Blueprint Video with Workbook’ to get you started on the path to Igniting and Leading the HR Advantage.

Until next time, I wish you the best in leading yourself and your team to a higher level of success on your terms.




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