ROI. KPIs. Units sold, clients signed. These metrics are the bread and butter of businesses, and for good reason: they keep lights on and employees’ checks signed. Let business development and marketing steer the ship for too long without letting HR take a turn, though, and your company may end up marooned.
Guide your company in the right direction by ensuring that HR not only has a say in where the organization is going, but that it actually gets heard. How? Use the following tactics to pump up your power of HR persuasion and increase the influence of you and your HR team!
1. Build trust before day one
Did you know that humans can judge how trustworthy someone iswithin seconds without even looking at their face? Or that we can easily tell if the person we’re speaking to over telephone is smiling, angry, or bored? Trust is so important to our species that we’ve evolved into super skilled body language readers and voice recognizers.
Use this inherent skill to your advantage and build trust throughout the office. (This is particularly important for HR professionals, who may have to overcome the stigma of working in the “discipline department.”)
You and your team are uniquely qualified to do this because every employee has to interact with HR at some point, particularly when first joining the company.
Tip: For example, start building rapport immediately by helping new hiresbefore they ever step foot into the office. Give them a pre-start package that includes day one necessities—directions to the office, parking instructions, etc.—as well as a welcome letter/video from their team, a company shirt or similar swag, and a sneak peek into their first day’s activities. This starts the relationship off on the right foot and cements you as their first friend… and someone they can turn to for any needs in the future!
2. Be the company compass
It’s easy for salespeople and senior leaders can get so caught up in that next big account or product rollout that they lose sight of the company mission. HR, be the voice of reason in these situations and turn the focus back to the company’s vision and values! You may be surprised at your ability to guide the organization back on track.
At Google, for instance, more than 3,000 employees have signed a petition asking the CEO to pull out of the Pentagon’s Project Maven, which may lead to weaponized AI used to target civilians and war targets. The employees point to Google’s unique motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” as their inspiration. They feel a responsibility to remain aligned with the company's core values.
Although these conversations can sometimes be difficult—after all, you don’t want to rain on the company’s parade—couching your argument in company values will demonstrate your positive intentions, and possibly even raise the profile of your HR team along the way.
3. Don’t ignore politics (make friends in the board room)
Office politics get a bad rap but it’s not all backstabbing and gossiping. Sometimes “politics” is just shorthand for emotional intelligence, or understanding peoples’ motivations and behaviors and acting accordingly.
In fact, in a study published by the Southern Management Association’s Journal of Management, 70% of managers claimed that in order to succeed within their workplace, they needed to successfully engage in office politics. This doesn’t mean go full Game of Thrones mode by any means… just consider forming alliances (aka friendships) within departments across the company to establish positive lines of communication.
4. Become a better listener
In a world of screens and devices, face-to-face conversations are falling out of fashion. As a result, listening skills are suffering—despite the fact that the key to becoming a better influencer often starts with less talking and more active listening.
Paraphrasing what the other person said every once in a while to show that you’re on the same page and minimize miscommunications.
Allowing for silence. Sometimes people need some time to organize their thoughts!
Letting the other person talk, and then validating their feelings with something like "It sounds like you're frustrated because..."
5. If all else fails, reach for the treats
Never forget the power of the almighty office snack! Studies haven't necessarily shown that donuts or croissants make people happier and more fun to work with, but let’s be honest: do we really need a study to know what they’re capable of? A diet-breaking treat can grease the wheels for friendly, laidback conversation among coworkers, which can ultimately be the best avenue toward increasing the influence of your HR team at the office.