The one with a seat at the table

One of the first blog comments I ever made was in response to a blog posted by @TheHRD (I can’t find it now) he was in full swing about HR stepping up to the mark and getting a ‘seat at the table’. He deigned to agree with my comment (I think that was the first and last time) and my comment went something along the lines of stopping waiting to be invited and just barge your way to the table.

I have seen many tweets and several blog posts since then about HR getting access/licence to operate whether to be with respect to hierarchy, internal networks or sponsorship from on high. Every time I see something it reminds me of a conversation I had with a very experienced HR Director over 5 years ago who said “the CEO isn’t a fan of HR but we’re changing his mind”. Having observed that particular situation in the ensuing time I don’t think the CEO changed their mind. Weirdly, I met two HR Directors during my job search who uttered the same line almost word for word and whether they will be successful is yet to be seen but it always made my heart sink a little.

Let’s face it, if someone has risen to lead an organisation and is experiencing success then is there really an opportunity to REALLY change their thinking on the impact on an organisation that skilled HR professionals executing effective strategy can have? Whilst part of me can’t help but admire those who undertake these missionary HR roles I still find myself coming back to thinking about rather than fighting for a seat at the table is the magic really going to happen when an enlightened leader just invites you to sit down?

As I’ve written this I’m still not sure whether these thoughts just reflect my desire to not have to fight the tough influencing fight (and just get on with improving the organisation) or actually whether this reflects my personality and the type of work I want to do…hmmm more thinking to do but I can’t help thinking even if you manage to drag the horse to water will you ever get it to believe that drinking is the right thing to do?!



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3 responses to “The one with a seat at the table

  1. neiljmorrison

    Rob – Great post and I couldn’t agree with you more. We are all defined by our actions, not our intentions. I once had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Steve Peters, the psychiatrist often heralded as the man responsible for the change in fortunes of the British cycling team. One of the major changes that he spoke about was the way they shifted the competitors focus from the end goal (gold medals) to their personal performance. The view being that you can control one but not the other and that if you focus on your performance then gold medals are more likely (but not guaranteed) to occur.

    I feel the same about business and position. If you work on your own performance, if you concentrate on what you can add rather than where you report or the levels of hierarchy, then the results are likely (but not guaranteed) to be more favourable.

    Control the things you can control. Concentrate on action, not intention.

  2. Ooooh good post! And good comment! I just wanted to share my appreciation. I’m going to think about this. Funnily enough I am totally willing to apply that to sports performance: I know I can’t control anyone else so I will try to get personally better, but am I taking the same approach at work? Definitely a question to mull over.

    Thanks boys!


  3. Pingback: The one with the influential session | Masters or Bust

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