This week, I had an opportunity to attend #DisruptHRIndy - an event designed to energize, inform, and empower professionals in the HR field. As I listened to the presenters, two things became abundantly clear about the HR professionals in attendance:
- 1They are all fully aware that providing professional development & personal growth opportunities is essential to engage and retain their workforce.
- 2They desperately crave more budget dollars to provide their workforce with these development opportunities.
At the end of the event, a friend and colleague asked if I would ever entertain the opportunity to speak to this group. Answering purely from a business owner/business development perspective, I replied, "No, probably not. These aren't the individuals who hire me." Rebecca nodded in understanding and confirmed, "It's the c-suite that hires you, isn't it?" I replied, "In most cases, yes."
It's been my experience that when a member of the executive team is convinced there's a critical need for professional development and growth, they are the ones who approve the strategy and budget dollars for providing it. And even though it may be someone in HR who "hires" me (and with whom I work to deliver the coaching and training), you can bet your bottom dollar there is someone on the Executive Team behind it and supporting it.
Driving home, I continued to ponder this conversation and the presentations where speakers addressed the challenges HR faces when trying to convince their leadership that professional development at all levels is mission-critical.
If you often find yourself in similar situations where it feels like you're beating your head against the wall to get key decision makers to listen to you and consider your ideas, here are a few questions I encourage you to ponder:
Do your key decision makers view you as a TRUSTED ADVISOR?
Have you invested the time and energy needed to forge solid relationships built on a foundation of trust with your executive leaders? I know, I know. This is often easier said than done. It's a skill that must be learned, though; if you haven't yet, it could be why you're having difficulty getting others to listen to you.
Can you clearly and succinctly articulate the VISION these key decision makers have for the organization (as it exists in their minds) in the next five to ten years?
Knowing and understanding what your executives want the organization's future to look like will provide insight into their priorities and what matters most to them.
Do you know their PRIORITIES and WHAT THEY BELIEVE must be done to achieve this vision?
How familiar are you with their role, and how deeply do you understand how they must think and make decisions to achieve what they were hired to do for the organization in the short and long term?
Have you explored and thought critically & strategically about your proposed investment of time, money, and energy into the growth and development of the organization's talent:
It will be a tough sell if you can't connect the dots and create this alignment. "It's the right thing to do, and research proves it" will almost always be a weak argument on its own. It is must more helpful when aligned with the executives' priorities and the outcomes they seek.
Have you spent sufficient time thinking strategically about incorporating all of the above into your ongoing discussions with your decision makers to command their attention and give them a reason to engage in the dialogue you want to have?
Pulling it all together
With unwavering honesty, if you cannot answer YES to all these questions, you haven't done what you must do to properly prepare for these types of conversations. If you're approaching it any other way and it's not working, this is likely why.
It's not that you're not smart, and it's not that you don't know what you are doing. It's likely you simply haven't gained the skills needed to effectively navigate these conversations in ways that positively influence decision-making and elicit the responses you seek.
Here's the good news. These skills can be learned and honed over time. So perhaps you just identified a growth opportunity for yourself?
Ponder on that, my friends, and let me know what questions you have. Tweet me, or shoot me a message on Facebook or LinkedIn.