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HR can be hugely influential within an organisation – after all, it’s people that make up a business – but for its potential to be realised, you need the board to buy in to its power.
Unfortunately, HR is sometimes still seen by members of the boardroom as an administrative role that simply logs when employees are off sick or keeps track of training – a view that could be seriously stunting their business’ growth. Until those that sit at the top recognise the importance of the HR function, it can’t help them succeed when the going gets tough – which was exactly the focus of HR Grapevine’s Annual Conference, earlier this month.
Obtaining buy-in from the board is no mean feat and has long been a sticking point for HR Directors eager to propel the business forward, whether it’s communicating the benefits of implementing new cost-effective software, or changing shift patterns, for example. The fact is that HR professionals will always come up against some sort of opposition when it comes to a change in procedures.
However, there are a number of ways to stand you in good stead when it comes to presenting your case to the board.
A common mistake when it comes to pitching an idea to the board is to go away, do lots of research, formulate an elaborate proposal and present it in full with limited prior warning or involvement on their part. You need to have your business case ready before you’ve written it and be planting seeds regarding what you have in mind.
The likelihood is that you’ll already know rough costs, timescales and benefits and can be feeding these to members of the board all along. When it comes to collating a more detailed strategy – which could take months – any changes to these elements shouldn’t be too dramatic and won’t be likely to impact their decision.
It’ll come as no surprise that board members will want evidence to back up your claims, and a lot of this will come down to the relationship and reputation you’ve built up over time. However, it’s crucial to give evidence of how your current recommendation will positively impact the business and be in line with the strategy, while highlighting examples of how previous initiatives have done so, too. Numbers talk, so place emphasis on how the proposed activity will make or save money.
It’s crucial to think about what makes your audience tick, so be sure to communicate with stakeholders and include them at all stages of the process so you’re not going in blind at pitch stage. Set up meetings with each board member early on to discuss your recommendations and find out their thoughts, what they want and how they would improve it. You can then use this information to develop a proposal that addresses the concerns of each different decision-maker.
Although this process will be challenging and take a lot of time, eventually you’ll get to the root of all the issues and have all potential objections dealt with before officially presenting your case to the board.