On this week’s Survive HR podcast, Kelly and I sat down and spoke with  two CEOs regarding their opinions about what traits great HR professionals possess. 

To Listen to the full podcast, click below:

The major criticism of our CEOs is the same as that of the CFO, lack of business knowledge.  I sense a theme here, don’t you?  Two of the most important corporate positions, that probably have significant influence on your career progression, think you need more business acumen.  Every HR professional that cares about being their best must determine how to acquire business/financial acumen. One easy way to grow your knowledge of the business is to ask those in the various business roles you interact with about their areas.  Specifically, what are their most pressing business challenges, what they envision for their areas going forward, what the competition is doing differently, how they are impacted by other functions in the organization, both positively or negatively, etc., etc..  I’ve actually asked these types of questions throughout my career and found every single person not only willing to share their knowledge, but happy to do so.  It also helped forge relationships and trust that I was truly their business partner. You can also take courses to help improve your business acumen, or read books on business like “Finance for Dummies”. 

Our CEOs appreciated the HR knowledge and interpersonal skills most HR professions brought to the table.  They also appreciated HR professionals that are not afraid to push back when they believe the organization, or the CEO, is making a bad HR related decision.  Both recognized that pushing back takes strength and confidence that many lack. HR is arguably the most important function within organizations, and truly makes a difference in how profitable, how sustainable and how well regarded the organization is, long term.  That being said, be proud of the role you play, the difference you make and continuously make efforts to improve your skill set, including your business acumen.

As always, Kelly and I appreciate you listening to our podcast and reading our blog.  You are the reason we do what we do.  If you ever need help, we are available for coaching, consulting, training and speaking engagements.  All the best!

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Steve Nail is currently the Dean, College of Business, at Anderson University. He is a labor and employment attorney who began his career with the National Labor Relations Board. Thereafter, he served as Assistant General Counsel for Michelin, including two stints in France, where he worked on the structuring of the European Economic Community and served in the HR and Legal Departments. Later he served as the Vice President of Labor and Employee Relations before moving on to Hubbell where he served as the Vice President of Human Resources. Steve was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve on the SC Healthcare Planning Committee and was reappointed by Governor McMaster in 2018. Steve was named the 2012 South Carolina HR Professional of the Year and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, by the Greenville SHRM chapter. He is a frequent speaker, a published author, and mentor to many in the HR profession. He often coaches individuals and consults organizations on strategic matters. He is a Register Corporate Coach, certified by the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches and holds SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications.