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What CEOs Want From HR Leaders

Terri Davis magazine

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Alignment, education and engagement top the list to attract and keep the best.


In your company, it might be crystal clear strategically what your CEO is looking for from its HR leaders. In others, it might be as clear as mud. Recent polling research indicates that the majority of CEOs have some fundamental requirements when it comes to hiring. In my experience, I would boil it down to these top four strategic objectives.

Strategic alignment. CEOs report wanting candidates hired for how they align to the strategic vision and goals of the organization. Every person you hire must fulfill a function. But, most importantly, they must align with the strategic mission. How will this person further the goals and objectives of the company? This goes beyond technical skill. A person’s fit to strategy will include everything beyond the technical requirements for the position.

Effective onboarding. Effective onboarding can make or break a candidate. Onboarding is your one opportunity to align, educate, and train the next person you hire to ‘ride for the brand’. Candidates need to know what’s expected of them in everything to do with the position, most important of which is the culture and vision of the company. People need to know all the functional requirements of joining your company and they also need to absorb and (ideally) eventually embody the ethos of your company. They need to believe in the journey you’re on. Only then do you convert selfishness to a selflessness that amounts to teamwork at the levels you need to be your most competitive.

Ongoing engagement. People are only as effective as they are engaged. If you do not have programs that constantly and consistently engage staff, you cannot educate them, train them, or probably keep them very long. Every employee wants to know, even if they don’t ask it outright, how they fit into the vision of the company, and what the company is doing to get there. Only when they understand their complete role will you have a more effective employee. Without engagement and understanding their important role in the direction and future of the company, employees becomes unengaged, even unappreciated. Without regular and rewarding engagement, you’ll never be able to lift your people above the function of the 9-5 to become your most powerful ambassadors and advocates. Knowledge is power, and that goes for staff as well.

Attracting the best. The best people don’t just happen, and they don’t happen if you can’t differentiate yourself from your competitors. Take google as an example. They attract the best programmers not just because they are a market behemoth. They attract the best because of the brand ethos and vision of the company, a vision they cannot accomplish without the best. Google’s outward brand is all about leadership, being the best, and providing for their people. They are hugely differentiated and successful in the market because they take care to project their brand in the market over and above what they do and sell as a company. Do you?

Having an integrated and well-thought-out process for attraction, hiring, onboarding, and engagement, using the power of your brand as the fuel, will help you find the best, train the best, and keep the best, for years to come.

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