I have been invited to meet with the board of directors in my company. They want me to address them on critical HR issues and the future outlook for HR in organisation. What and what should be included in my address?
From Nigeria, Lagos
Dear Hrprof2016,

Well gentleman, if you are going to address the BoD, then your designation supposed to be GM and above. Nevertheless, should we construe short information in your post as your tendency to touch surface rather than going deep? Your SMS like or 41-word post gives a feeling that it has come from some novice. A person of your stature should have given complete information like whether yours is a public limited company or private limited, the nature of your industry, total employee count, whether employees are spread in single location or in multiple locations and so on.

If yours is public limited company then you will have easy access to the balance sheet of the company. You need to tell to the board that how value addition by HR has reflected in the balance sheet of the company. I know this is far easier said than done nevertheless, it has to be done. Secondly, what are the HR issues specific to your industry? Do you find challenge in attracting talent? What are your plans to overcome them? What is the attrition rate? What efforts have you taken to reduce the attrition? What is the average performance on a scale of 100 and what efforts did you take to improve employee performance? What were the results? What training and development initiatives did you take and what was the ROI on training? What is the total employee cost against the sales revenue?

What HR initiatives did you take to reduce the operations cost? Do you have labour union in your company? If yes, then how do you rate IR environment in the company? Is there threat of strike?

Caveat: - HR in general has penchant for the jargon. However, top management is interested only in results. Therefore, include as many numbers as possible and talk less on means like psychometric tests or employee engagement initiatives. Meeting with BoD is a double-edged sword. It might enhance your image or undercut it. Therefore, put your best foot forward.

All the best!

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

When Boards are seeking more input/information from HR, it raises HR profile but also creates political and other risks. for you.
As Learned member above said your interaction can either raise your profile or cut it down.
What has to be spoken/presented -basic overview of HR activities,any challenges which HR faces and equally your suggestions to address them,key strategic HR issues, namely succession planning, talent management and competitive executive compensation. -
Probably when BOD moves into executive time you will have to move out.
It will always pay to remember that: Increased interaction with board members can put HR in a politically sensitive position with regard to the CEO. - One must remember BOD is your boss's boss.
Speak wisely,critical issues and that too discuss with your CEO fully and do not speak out of turn.

From India, Pune
Dear HRProf2016,

We can only suggest you a format and not the content. To begin with, look for the Minutes Of the Meeting from the last meeting. It will give you an idea of what was discussed and how the discussions are structured. Look for the old presentation decks in your archives to understand the format for the presentation.

If you have been invited to speak, you must be an expert at your role and department. Use that operational knowledge to frame your speech.

Avoid making broad and open statement and keep data close to you. Such as don't say we hired a lot of people last month, but mentioned the hiring numbers and distribution of the talent.

Take top 3 challenges and prepare a 20000 feet view to it. Such as if attrition is your problem, prepare a MECE [Mutually exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive] Report and present it. Suggest solution and look for validation before presenting them.

If your team needs funds for the activities, prepare a detailed report on how those funds will add on to the Firm's revenue.

If your Board have not been happy with any area, prepare in details. Right from ground zero to the 20000 feet view! Such as the board is not happy with the salary increments. They feel they were already above the market pay and the talent doesn't deserve the hike. Prepare in details about the market correction and the challenges, such as a new employer in the market, ready to pay more to resource the teams. Pick more data on the threats that you may face.

Before talking about future, make sure the board is with you in the current times. You may want to set up an Internal University, but Board finds it ahead of time. Hence avoid making claims about the future, but speak strictly based on the forecast that your reports will make.

At the most you may share few relevant market trends, but that's entirely for the educational purpose and setting the reference for the next meeting.

Above all, work very closely on your presentation with the Head of your firm. Look for a mentor or a coach within the firm, who presents to the board regularly. Try and listen very deeply. Often, even through criticism, the board members can end up offering insights that are extremely helpful for development.

Hope this helps. Please consider sharing the feedback that you may receive from the board and the experience. Looking forward to hear from you!

From India, Mumbai

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