There are really only three swim lanes in business: sales, finance, and human resources. All jobs fall within only these three swim lanes, or functional areas. Unfortunately, only two of those three functions have business driver consideration: finance and sales. When they finance human resources into support function, a compliance function, or executive risk, then HR is only a cost center.
You can’t have a business without sales and you can’t stay in business with financial acuity.
Just look at some functional categories and realize their power:
- marketing < sales
- accounting < finance
- operations < finance
- IT (internal processes) < finance
- IT (market data) < sales
- public relations < sales
- supply chain < finance
Sales gets the money and finance maximizes the profit margin of each and every unit of money. Until human resources ups their stake in the game human resources is largely relegated to support, compliance, and supply.
Sell Human Resources
All the talent management, learning and development, organization behavior, human resource business partner, recruiter, chief human capital officer, chief diversity office, chief learning office, human resource generalist, and organization development cabal; we are in a war for:
- Limited attention,
- Limited resources, and
- Limited involvement
Until we make the clear case that we (you) do drive sales results or that you (we) do drive financial performance. Turn from a cost center to a profit center.
It’s your (my/our) job to make a valid case, each and every day, on how talent drives business results; strategic recruiting is a direct link to sales; and that motivation drives financial performance. If you (me/we) can’t make the case we (you/I) are not business partners.
Worse, we don’t deserve a seat at the business table and will never be invited to the business discussion.
I don’t have a prescription, but I know the only way to be a business partner is to understand finance and understand that when human resources contributes to sales and business growth or remains a cost center.
Finance Human Resources Independence
Time for human resources to know their (our) place: either driving sales or compliance and transaction. If it is compliance, that is a perfect map to be outsourced and outsourcing, of course, increases margins and that gets us right back to finance…
So, if you want to talk business then learn to talk sales and talk finance; know the industry drivers for each; and frame all your projects, programs, or efforts in maximizing sales and/or maximizing margin.
Human resource ROI is sexy to talk about, but without a sales and finance frame it only puts lipstick on a pig.
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