“CEOs do the job of HR.”
“HR has become all about processes and not people.”
“HR has lost the plot.”
On the face of it these words seem rather harsh, after all HR work extremely hard often under difficult conditions, but this was the consensus of several CEOs I interviewed in the last few months.
A CEO needs many talents such as strong financial knowledge, be willing to take calculated risks, think several steps ahead with a progressive vision for the future of the company, be hands on, effective at delegating, superb communication skills, be flexible whilst keeping an eye on trends. This is not an exhaustive list, but what is important here is that a CEO is head of the people working within the business.
Equally, HR also wears many hats. Recruitment, payroll functions, training, benefits management, contracts, mediation, compliance, policy, procedure, audits, reports, legalities, logistics and more. All of these roles can be specific to HR except for one and that is recruitment.
The importance of recruitment
Employing the right people with a positive attitude and maintaining their loyalty and enthusiasm is key to growing a successful business. As is empowering all managers and directors. According to the interviewees mentioned above, these two key areas should be the focus of a CEO, not spreadsheets and accounts. Which means that they welcome doing this part of the job that HR have traditionally done.
Employees that work with the CEO and the company vision, and do so with a smile, will drive business forward.
This is not however, a one step process, it is on-going.
The right ‘fit’
Recruitment needs to begin with getting the right fit. The new recruit’s personality should compliment that of the rest of the team. They need to have a positive attitude with a healthy mix of vitality and commitment. There is no point hiring someone because they have excellent qualifications if they look as if they have been slapped round the face with a wet fish and cannot engage properly with others. This will cause discontent among fellow workers and become counterproductive. When we do not communicate properly we distance ourselves from others. To make matters worse, our brain makes up what it doesn’t know, so we alienate others even more with our internal inaccurate chatter. As Jane Gunn, The Corporate Peacemaker, says, “we demonise those we disagree with” and therefore, push people further away.
This perpetuates negative thinking and is highly stressful. Exposure to stress over a period of time can lead to many mental and physical ailments. Stress hormones such as cortisol will adversely affect ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters to the point where we can’t concentrate properly, we will not sleep or eat well, our memory will be impaired and our motivation virtually non existent, This can all be avoided. It is therefore, paramount we hire people with the right attitude.
Hiring superior people
It is also the job of the CEO to recruit people who are as good as them, if not better. Great people surround a good leader. Some of the newer CEOs interviewed found this truism hard to accept, as they themselves were feeling a little insecure as they were finding their feet. hat said, all interviewees agreed this was the best policy.
Once the best people are hired it doesn’t stop there. It’s the job of the CEO to keep these great people working and motivated.
Weekly meetings to make sure everyone is aligned with employee engagement and goals are a way to avoid absenteeism, unrest and costly staff turnover. Are these meetings fun? If not, why not? Where is it written that work or life shouldn’t be fun?
In fact, when the brain is in a pleasurable state, we are more efficient and effective than most people realise. To spend a little time enjoying an activity at work together regardless of seniority will reap huge rewards. It will not detract from productivity, it will enhance it. A physical challenge, a TV in a conference room watching a major sports event with refreshments, a night out at a local restaurant, there are many ways to engage with employees.
This has to come from the top, which is why the interviewees agreed that a huge percentage of their time is spent on what HR used to do, recruitment and employee engagement.
Autonomy and respect
When everyone knows what he or she are doing, when they are trusted to get on and do it and when they feel empowered, respected and valued, business growth follows. Every employee knows that the company has to make money, and every employee would like a monetary incentive when the company does well. Research, however, shows that unless someone is earning minimum wage or just above, money is not the driving motivator. Recognition, praise, feedback for growth, a sense of belonging and enjoyment will activate the reward and motivation centers in the brain which means we embrace the source with enthusiasm and gusto.
The CEOs interviewed believed that this is the culture they should and do perpetuate. It takes the majority of their time, but their mantra was ‘do the basics’ and the rest will fall into place.