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Leader or Lagger? The Hidden Power of HR [Part 2]


In part 1, I highlighted several reasons why I feel an incoming CEO and leader needs to develop a creative, collaborative and trusting relationship with HR and its leadership. In this second part, I will provide additional reasons why I feel this is essential to success.

Face to Face wins over any thing else

Depending upon the size of the organization, make every effort to personally meet with every individual who reports to your HR leader, if possible during the first months following your arrival. You want to ensure that you are supporting the culture you’d like to develop through behavior and walking the integrity walk. In addition, your ‘fit check’ of individuals who are in these positions, or the one’s who are just about to be hired at this particular managerial level is essential. It gives a clear signal to the rest of the organization that HR is not ‘out there’, but is an integral part of the organization. Of course you discuss your ‘findings’ with the HR leader on an ongoing basis.

Ask and it will be given to you

Request for a HR specific questionnaire, for example using Zoomerang®, to be prepared and distributed to all personnel. Although these questionnaires are usually being managed by HR and send to the rest of the organization, you want to start with HR and obtain valuable employee comments on how HR is currently being perceived. Starting with a HR questionnaire, provides focus and allows a preview of your communication style; open, direct and inviting to all.

You show organizational accountability and present the HR team as a “key and important business area.”

A few examples of questions you could use (suggest you use 10 questions or less):

– How are HR’s goals linked to our strategic company and your personal goals?

– How does our organization measure HR’s effectiveness?

– What do you need, want or wish from HR to support your goals?

– HR leaders in our organization are usually?

– What can you give, provide to, or do for HR to support their goals?

Of course, you will provide the organization with full access to the data of the questionnaire in a practical, non-threatening and non-blaming fashion. You avoid this will become one of those executive ‘Boomerang’ questionnaires. In these cases, people honestly and dutifully complete a questionnaire and remain forever in the dark about the data and the possible related actions. However, they do know that in ‘their world’ nothing has been done – for nothing has changed.

Policies, Procedures and Quality

I suggest for you to agree with the HR leader on an independent professional review of all (corporate and country operations) HR policies and procedures, with the aim of reducing the number and complexity. Through this action you promote transparency, clarity of action and removal of bureaucracy.

You want quality (= method preservation), defined as committed to working to the highest ethical, scientific and quality standards and ensuring compliance with all regulatory requirements, applied everywhere in the organization. You require ‘HR business based,’ critical and risk based thinking in all of your organization’s leaders and team members, not ‘just’ in HR.

It is all about synergy

Agree with the HR leader on the creation of cross-departmental “synergy teams,” composed of operational and junior-to middle-leadership, being led by one of your direct reports. The teams address better ways to achieve the strategic and tactical goals and the removal of barriers to accomplish the work. Make it a priority to meet with these teams every month over breakfast for the first six months and invite team members to bring all you need to know to the table.

The only rule is, no gossiping and no trashing of coworkers and leadership. Team meetings will have no formal agenda and you will distribute action item reports to your executive team members, to the rest of the organization and to the governing board – creating full transparency.  Your openness and interaction about this with HR leadership is critical – HR is your partner and show this to every one through openness and active collaboration.


As a new leader you undoubtedly have been mandated to drive organizational and business growth. Inherently this will imply a culture transformation.

Your efforts are significantly affected by the quality and the type of support you mobilize from HR and its leadership.

From experience it is vital as a leader to accept accountability for HR. When you choose to lead, you decide to find and use the “hidden power of HR.” In doing so, you will be well on your way to be supported by a vision sharing HR leadership. This will collectively move you and the organization closer to the short-term successes and long-term goals.

You are well aware that: “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight” – Jim Rohn.

Image credits:

This article was originally published in Leadership Matters on October 9, 2009

Johan Reinhoudt

Johan Reinhoudt, oprichter/directeur van Top-Coach, heeft gedurende de afgelopen dertig jaar organisaties en individuen geholpen naar een hoger prestatieniveau.

Zijn indrukwekkende ervaring als DGA, algemeen directeur, management consultant, maar ook zijn brede wetenschappelijke, operationele en R&D achtergrond in organisaties variërend van start-up, MKB tot gerenommeerde internationale concerns (zoals bijvoorbeeld Abbvie, Cognizant, Eurofins, Leiden Universitair Medisch Centrum, Pfizer, PRA Health Sciences, Sanofi) zorgt voor een bijzonder praktische, creatieve en innovatieve achtergrond.

In zijn huidig executive coaching werk helpt Johan executives en ondernemers die kampen met prestatie en/of (beginnende-) burn-out, hoe ze snel hun passie en energie terug kunnen krijgen en weer kunnen gebruiken in hun werk, duidelijkheid en visie kunnen herwinnen en meetbare duurzame verbetering in hun resultaten te krijgen.

Tel. (+31) (0)30-200 6761

During the past thirty years Johan Reinhoudt, Founder/CEO of Top-Coach, assisted organisations and individuals to a higher performance level.

His impressive experience as CEO, President, Management Consultant, but also his broad scientific, operations and R&D background in a variety of organisations, ranging from start-up, SME to renowned international concerns (such as for example, Abbvie, Cognizant, Eurofins, Leiden University Medical Center, Pfizer, PRA Health Sciences, Sanofi) provides an exceptional practical, creative and innovative background.

In his current executive coaching work, Johan works with executives and entrepreneurs who struggle with performance and/or (pre-) burnout. He shows them how to quickly recover their passion and bring bonfire energy back to work, regain clarity and vision to get sustainable and measurable improvement in their results.

Tel. (+31) (0)30-200 6761

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