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Strategic HR Weekly "Sales" Tip #5

FINALLY!!     An HR Person Said "Profits" (the Bottom Line)

A couple months ago, I was speaking to the Prince Georges county (Maryland) SHRM Chapter on 'How to Communicate the Value of HR to the C-Suite'.

Some readers of these Tips that have been through my trainings are familiar with my "Why? Why? Why?" interactive exercise I do with many groups. I ask each HR attendee to concisely write down the top 3 three reasons why what they do or offer their clients/company is valuable.

Then I ask for 3 attendees to share their bulleted value points, and we list all their reasons in a column on the left side of a white board. Then I loop through each volunteer again, asking WHY the prior reason would be valuable to a business. Then I do it again. And then I offer them one more chance, if they want another "Why Reason". I don't tell them in advance that eventually each of their Why's should impact the P&L, and the sooner the better!

I've been doing that exercise for 3 or 4 years, and up until this session no one had ever said "Profits" or "the Bottom Line" in the first round of "Why?" And I've actually done it with a couple of groups where we asked "Why?" out to 6 times/columns and no one had hit the P&L.

In this session though, it finally happened! (See the picture below.) A lady said "We impact the bottom line." as her very first reason. I wanted to jump up and down and do some fist pumps when it happened, but it would have spoiled the exercise for the rest of the group.

When we got to round two, and I asked this lady "Why?" her first reason was valuable, she didn't answer the question for the way it was asked. Technically she should have said, "There is no other reason above that. If you're in a for-profit business, that is THE ultimate reason they exist. To maximize profits." But instead, she started explaining several ways HOW she would 'Impact the bottom line'.

As she answered, I inconspicuously drew her connection arrow in the opposite direction of all the other arrows. I then let the exercise run its course, and only when we were done did I single out this lady's responses to congratulate her and explain the significance of what had happened to the rest of the group.

And that is: If a HR person wants to be considered a critical, strategic member of a company's management team, they ALWAYS have to have their eye on the ultimate company objectives (drive revenue, protect revenue, maximize margins, etc, etc) and get the rest of the management team to ask/wonder "HOW can you do that for the company?" Getting someone to ask that "How?" question means they are interested in hearing more, and then you can jump in and present the compelling business case to answer the question.


Rob Blunt       View our profile on LinkedIn
President, 4-Profit-HR

phone: 866-868-5885