HR Initiatives Fall Apart in the Middle

Laurie Ruettimann Always Be Closing, Business Development, Driving Productivity, Good HR, HR, Influence, Laurie Ruettimann, Organizational Development, Performance, Seat at the Table, Talent Management Power Rankings, Talent Strategy, The HR Profession, Workforce Management Articles

Your CEO loves HR. He is your number one fan. When it comes to initiatives such as performance management and wellness, he believes in your ideas. He knows you have potential.

It’s his direct reports—the lazy ones, the cynical ones, the ones who have been bypassed for the role of CEO—who are your biggest enemies.

  • They don’t like you.
  • They don’t think you’re strategic.
  • They wonder where you got the nerve.

You just work in HR. You aren’t a business leader. You don’t know math, and you wouldn’t know a strategy if you fell into a pile of big data.

Unfortunately, HR initiatives fall apart in the middle. Unless you win the hearts and minds of your biggest critics, you are doomed.

So how do you win over a guy who doesn’t believe in you? How does good triumph over evil?

You need a stalking horse. Find a way to observe your prey. Figure out what he likes and doesn’t like. Observe his strengths, but more importantly, learn his weaknesses. When the opportunity is right, forge an alliance or push him out of the way.

You need an emissary. Find a diplomat or an envoy—someone who can make your case better than you—and put that person to work. Sometimes your emissary is the CEO who needs to set the record straight about who’s in charge.

You need a spine. If the center of your company is packed with snakes, get out your whacking stick and get to work.

It’s nice to say that your company needs to demonstrate leadership and a commitment to human capital management principles at the top. Guess what? It already shows leadership at the top. What you need is the internal confidence to challenge the soft, doughy middle of your organization. Demand excellence. Lead the departure away from mediocrity.

And your secret weapon?

It’s your CEO.

Laurie Ruettimann is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur based in Raleigh, NC. She’s working on her next book about fixing work due out in 2020.