To really engage your CEO, you need to learn to speak in terms of risk and ROI.
I was fortunate to have a conversation with a busy HR manager last week as we left an event. She has been doing some analysis with her HR data, has discovered some workforce trends and sees the value of taking her analysis to the next level but is getting a lukewarm response from her CEO. She has told him she has access to data and can get him any information he needs which can help him make better decisions but there has been no take up on his side.
It reminded me of a communications workshop I was asked to develop a few years ago for a group of Accountants working in government. The focus was about how to put information into a format that created action rather than just saying ‘see my wonderful data’. These stories are similar in that each group is excited about their metrics and can see the opportunities and obstacles. The problem is that the audience often doesn’t have time or interest in the results by themselves and they often don’t have the perspective to ‘see’ what you do. The key is to target your information to your audience.
Communicate in your audience’s language – Risk and opportunity
To get the attention of a CEO, you need to speak in terms of risk. A CEO has many priorities in a day and to get her or his attention, you need to provide decision-ready recommendations. Your role on the leadership team is to use your professional expertise to help the organisation achieve its goals. No one else has your operational perspective. The CEO relies on you to identify risks to their bottom line which they can’t see from their perspective. If you start the conversation with identifying the risk (or opportunity) to the business, your analysis will be there to support your assertions yet won’t clutter the initial message.
Move beyond intuition – quantify the impact on the bottom line
While other areas of the business have become lean through measurement, the microscope is being turned to HR not just to prove ROI but to quantify the department’s impact on the bottom line. Whether you’re starting with an Excel spreadsheet, your HRIS system or a dashboard tool, you must start to analyse your data not only to demonstrate cost savings but also revenue generation though talent acquisition and development. This will not happen overnight but if you don’t begin to crunch your numbers, the CEO will be asking Finance for the information and you will be left out of the discussion.
Have you run into these types of situations?
Stay tuned for my next article on how to start tapping data to impact the bottom line.