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How to Get a Seat at the Executive Table: Ten Tips

Four Tips About Positioning Yourself to Influence Business Strategy


How to Get a Seat at the Executive Table: Ten Tips
Copyright Wynand Van Niekerk

Do you influence your company's direction? Contribute to the corporate discussion about customers, products and strategy? Are you a participant in senior level meetings? Do managers seek your opinion?

If you can answer "yes" to these questions and you also initiate people programs and processes, welcome to the executive board room. You've made it. Congratulations on your career success. Still earning that seat? These tips will fast forward your career or keep you sitting at the executive table.

Understand Your Organization's Business

Yes, I know, when you're buried in the day-to-day, it's hard to remember, you're actually running a business. Ernie and Harriet aren't getting along. Have to play moderator. Julie doesn't understand her benefits. Have to hold her hand for awhile. Bob wants to know where to find training records. Mary needs FMLA time after the birth of her baby.

Ah, yes, you're in the people business, a small business within a business. But, you're also in the bigger business of your organization. Spend time every day talking with sales, production, quality and accounting. Make sure you know what is going on in that bigger world. Know your customers, the cost of your products and how you're going to meet your monthly sales goals. You help the people get what they need to run the business effectively, profitably, and respectfully in an empowering environment.

Share Responsibility for Business Goals and Plans

The overall business goals are your goals, too. When you make plans for your department, they should be directed at achieving overall business goals as well as Human Resources goals. Developing a performance culture is a goal you'll likely own.

You contribute to the inventory turns goal, too. You supply the best people who are trained in the business, motivated by their work, rewarded by the company and led by effective management. You are knowledgeable about the business and can ask questions that encourage continuous improvement by all.

Know the Human Resources Business Thoroughly

Your customers rely on you for correct and insightful information and advice. What more can I say? You are reliable, credible, trustworthy and knowldgeable. Let people down and they'll stop coming to you for information and advice. They'll lose faith and confidence in your answers. And then, what good are you? (Remember, it's always okay to say you'll find out.)

Run Your Department Like a Business

Don't get so caught up in the business of your overall business that you forget to run your department like a business, too. Meet with your reporting staff members weekly. Meet with your department weekly to make sure all members are pointed in the same direction.

Your goals must contribute to the accomplishment of the overall business goals. Your action plans to achieve the goals need to translate into daily "to-do" lists for your staff. Every important activity needs a feedback loop or audit so you know it is being accomplished.

As an example, new employee orientation is scheduled regularly. Does every employee attend? Are all covered policies, procedures and information detailed on a checklist that the employee signs? Are these checklists filed in the employee's file? How frequently do you audit the files or attend the orientation, thus ensuring that what you think is happening - is, in fact, happening.

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