Are Your HR Leaders Stuck at the Kids’ Table?

I used to hate it. Every holiday reminded me of the slight, whether it was intended our not.

Even as I got tall enough for my bent knees to press against the bottom of the card table, I stayed there. Stewing.

I was no longer a child. I could DRIVE, for Pete’s sake!

But I still couldn’t sit at the adult table to eat a holiday dinner. Sometimes I would revel at the Shredded Wheat commercials where the adults would turn into children as they ate cereal. I dreamt how cool it would be if we could sprinkle some of that magic onto the Thanksgiving turkey to level the playing field. Who’s short now, Uncle Jim?!

I wonder if that’s how some of our colleagues in HR feel this time of year. Doors are closed. Voices are faint at first, but occasionally rise with emotion. There is unexpected laughter. Then more silence. Even though they can’t make out all of the words, they know their leaders are discussing their vision and planning their strategy for next year and beyond.

And yet, many folks in HR are stuck in their cubicles. They sit with their bent knees pressed against their desks. And they’re stewing.

There are a lot of resources dedicated to helping HR get a seat at the decision-making table. I’ve been exposed to some really good ideas lately that I’d like to share with you.

Pat Galagan, editor-at-large with ASTD, wrote a great blog, called: “You’ll Never Work Alone.”

Pat offers many ideas to increase collaboration and relevancy. For example, she says that:

  • HR will need to expand into other areas of the organization to learn from and adapt the practices of other disciplines (ex: applying concepts from supply chain mgmt to define the flow of talent through the organization).
  • About Metrics, she says: “Determining what to measure will be a collaborative effort involving not only the stakeholders in managing talent across the organization, but their CEOs,” In his conversations with CEOs of major companies, ASTD CEO Tony Bingham notes a consistent theme on the topic of the effectiveness of training: Specific individual measures about learning matter less to them than progress toward their companies’ most important goals.

When a culture shift is called for, HR plays a critical role. For example, to attract the right candidates, HR must understand the business well enough to effectively sell the organization and its vision. Once they’re onboard, they’ve got to find strategic ways to get new leaders involved and transfer their thinking to the rest of the organization.

At a recent HRMAC event (Human Resources Management Association of Chicago), one HR leader offered the following advice: “Get new leaders involved in projects to increase their visibility and expose their thinking to key stakeholders within the organization.  We also connected at recent hire with a mentor who has strong field experience so they can be an effective sounding board.”

By sitting in on interviews, planning sessions and team meetings, HR leaders will improve their business acumen and ability to influence the business in meaningful ways.

If you’re sick of sitting at the kids’ table, create a plan of action that will increase your ability to add value to the business. Your career and your company’s success may depend on it.

Brian Williamson is the Director of Sales, North America for ProfitAbility Business Simulations. ProfitAbility helps companies experience the future of their business. They do this by creating experiential business simulations that allow executives to validate or test their growth strategies in a safe environment, develop current / future leaders and increase financial acumen.  Brian may be reached at 312.224.8066 or


About Brian Williamson

I work with salespeople and leaders to get better results by taking a character-based approach. That means Executing by helping others Execute their priorities. I'm also the founder of Testimony & Tunes ( where everyday people share lessons learned through faith, and artists can share tunes that reflect their faith.

One comment

  1. Pingback: 5 Must Have’s for any Successful High-Potential Program « Brian Williamson's Blog

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