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Human Resources Got a Seat at the Table ... and Now What?

For years we have been to many conferences, participated in webinars and seminars challenging HR professionals to work to get a "seat at the table". Meaning; HR should be involved in strategic C-level discussions/meetings. First .... WHAT??? Why would it ever have to be a fight to have HR, the people who are considered the most connected to the employees in the company, involved in the conversation? And yet, that was how it had been. The key word there being "was". Second, having spent so much time proving the point that HR should be at the table, all of sudden when we are welcomed and given the seat, now we have to participate.

Sooooo ... now that we are here, what do we do? How do we participate? How do we contribute? How do we add value to the conversation? Here are few thoughts on how to contribute authentically.

  1. It’s okay to be vulnerable… now that you are sitting at the table, doesn't mean suddenly you have all the answers. It's OK to not know everything. This is a journey, and because it is a journey, it is about progress. Learn to serve your company's best interests, by understanding the business and how HR concepts contribute to those business interests.

  2. Take calculated risks. Understand the concepts which are important to the company. Learn how to determine, ROI when it comes to establishing a position matrix; when it comes to recruitment and retention; when it comes to succession planning and professional development. Never apologize for an idea or conviction, but understand that how you deliver information is important. The purpose of the HR position is to remain impartial, since there is no ego, no competitive need to win; this creates tremendous value for leadership.

  3. Learn how to be comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to deliver bad news. Bad news is not like wine, it doesn't get better with age. Be authentic. Be candid and direct, and share what needs to be said. Take ownership for what you need to, but don't apologize for having to give uncomfortable feedback. Often, I found myself prefacing things – with all due respect . . . But never, I’m sorry or I’m not sure. 


We as HR professionals have an opportunity to provide insight, and direction from a focus not always considered when discussing strategic direction for the business. When you get invited to have a seat at the table, be excited, and then take a few moments to put together a strategy which will help support your company build a lasting strategy with HR in mind!

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