So, while the CEO might have thought thorough HR planning was initially of moderate importance, it soon becomes clear that it’s absolutely essential as the business grows to give the company the best chance of maintaining its initial hard-won success.
These are just a few of the benefits to be gained from having a solid HR Strategy and expertise in place from early on in an organisation’s development. However, despite the pivotal role the HRD can play in partnering the head of a business, it is not uncommon for a CEO to insist that HR reports to the CFO or COO, rather than themselves. For many HR professionals this is a deal-breaker because it sends a clear message that the CEO does not put People at the top of their agenda. When we talk to HRDs, those who are excited about the characteristics and challenges of working within a rapid growth enterprise – such as a chance for them to really frame a business, working from a blank sheet of paper, and to design creative policies with measurable results – it is clear they will not want to be layered into a reporting line below that of CEO. Without that direct reporting line, many form the perception, true or otherwise, that the ability for HR to have strategic input and business impact is restrained.
CEOs themselves should understand the value of prioritising good strategic People Practice from the outset and choose an HRD with whom they feel that they can easily build a rapport and who they are assured is giving them pragmatic business partnering. They can act as a confidante and a general sounding board for the CEO. Alongside this business partnering relationship, an experienced HR professional will also be able to bring coaching skills, which is useful for helping to build alignment across the top team.