In today’s HRwisdom Blog post, we look at an issue that faces many HR professionals: How to have a bigger impact on the business?

In order to come up with a Human Resources strategy for greater business influence, we have turned to an expert HR practicioner, Deb Graham (more about Deb at the end of this article).

Human Resource Strategy For Greater Business Influence

Let’s hand it over to Deb . . .

Want To Be More Influential?

Ever felt like no one cares what you think? Human Resource Strategy

We all do from time to time.

Over the years, I’ve worked with all kinds of HR leaders. Those who are influential have this in common: they understand the business, speak the language of business leaders and are skilled at sharing their opinions and insights. This makes them credible and business leaders seek their opinions.

So how do they do it?

1. They know the business. And because they understand how the business works, they can talk about the things that matter to business leaders. Business leaders don’t get excited because it’s ‘time to do our succession plan’. They are interested when ‘succession planning’ means they have the people they need to lead the latest strategic change.

Do you know your business?

Ask yourself:

  • How does my business make money?
  • What metrics does my organization use to determine success and what do these metrics and acronyms mean?
  • What challenges does my organization face in the short-term and long-term?
  • What do customers love about us?
  • And of course, Who are the people we can not afford to lose?

2. They build strong relationships with the business leaders they support. As a true partner and not a ‘rule enforcer’, these HR leaders discuss how business problems can be solved. But neither does the HR leader simply do what the business leader requests. The business leader might insist that a new hire be paid more than others already doing the job. The HR leader’s role is to help him or her understand how this will be viewed when it is discovered by current employees (and of course, it always is). In the zeal to get the job done, the business leader may forget to consider the future implications of his or her decisions.

Are you a strong business partner? Ask yourself:

  • Do the leaders I support believe that I desire and am actively working to make them successful?
  • Do I go along with the opinions of the crowd or do I speak up when my opinion differs?
  • Do I provide feedback and coaching so that the leader can understand how s/he is viewed and thus is able to increase his or her effectiveness?
  • Do I help leaders to understand the implications of their actions?

You may be wondering how to build these skills.

I’ve had good results by simply asking questions.

For example, I worked in an organization where EBITDA was the most watched metric. Uncertain what it meant, I asked the CFO, who walked me through the steps to calculate it. Turns out it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected.

Books can also be useful. Two I highly recommend are:

  • What the CEO Wants You to Know by Ram Charan
  • Flawless Consulting by Peter Block

Learn the business, build relationships, add insight and value and you’ll find yourself included in important business discussions.

Deb Graham is the founder of, a place where HR leaders from across the globe can connect, ask questions and find practical solutions to manage business change.

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