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Benjamin Peermamode-Murphy

Cornerstone OnDemand

SMB consultant

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Getting a seat for talent transformation at the (boardroom) table

Discover how HR professionals in SMBs can get management or C-suite sponsorship for talent transformation projects.

In part one of this series, we looked at how to design a blueprint for talent transformation success. However, even with a strong reason for change and a great plan of attack, HR transformation projects can sometimes stall before they even get going due to a lack of buy-in and understanding from senior management.

In this article, Ben Murphy, SMB sales consultant from Cornerstone looks at how to get management or C-suite sponsorship for your talent transformation project. 

A key element of your project plan is getting the right people on your transformation team. This starts by ensuring you have an executive sponsor. This person’s role is to keep management buy-in alive, ensure you secure the budget needed for the project and to step in when the project’s end goal is at risk.

The sponsor will become your key partner on the road to transformation, so you need to select someone with influence and who understands the transformative power of this project, even when it’s at the conceptual stage. 

Let’s look at how to build a strong case for transformation. 

The power of data

With your executive sponsor on board, you have an indirect seat at the boardroom table. Despite its far-reaching impact, the talent team often struggles to get into the boardroom. This is because competing, louder departments such as sales, finance, logistics and marketing often steal focus away from people priorities.

To get that seat, you can use data to build your case. Previously we spoke about the importance of return on investment (ROI), and here it’s your biggest ally. Quantify your challenges, align them to what the business needs and train yourself to articulate HR’s impact on business performance.

As a HR leader in your business, your seat at the table is just as important as all the other departments.

This is the language that senior leaders speak, so learning how to speak it yourself will be very powerful when it comes to being heard at your organisation. From staff retention to performance improvements, to skills for the future, you need to quantify the impact of ensuring future business competitiveness in your market space.

This will not only get you a seat at the table, but a louder voice inside your wider organisation too. 

Vendor consolidation

Sometimes one of the most time-consuming elements of any job can be vendor management. With all of the emails, meetings and finance administration involved, vendors can take up a lot of your time.

Therefore, when you find a partner who can do more, the impact on your time can be huge.  What’s more, reduced costs that come from significantly streamlining your processes through vendor consolidation could be the key to getting management buy-in for your transformation project.

Show that you are willing to analyse your expenditure, investigate better options for the business and improve the positive impact across your organisation and you have yourself a winning combination for convincing management to sign off. 

Lack of budget authority

As a HR leader in your business, your seat at the table is just as important as all the other departments. You have a budget, and it should be under your authority. However, in smaller organisations this isn’t always the case.

Here we advise you to take an example from your marketing colleagues and draw up an annual spending plan. This will help management understand where you plan to spend the money and, more crucially, gets you the authority to spend it – your new plan now works as a pre-approved plan for spending.

Make sure this is January ready. Present it to the leadership team and get that approval in early. 

You can then look at your year, look at your plans and get spending. I would always say, keeping an emergency ‘amount’ back is prudent, but remember you are the budget owner, and you should fight for the power to spend and manage your budget. 

Speaking the right language to the right people can be transformative to HR investment and interest. 

Planning for the future

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. The right talent management tools help you to see what you have, what you need and where gaps exist. This comes down to data again and in smaller organisations with limited tools, this can often be a problem.

Do your homework as part of your strategy planning, outline your tactics to support upskilling, reskilling, talent mobility and more, and show how those plans can impact your organisation and keep it future-proof.

Keeping track of this will really help you to showcase the positive changes your project can bring about. 

Reducing employee churn

Better talent programmes deliver happier employees and happier employees stay with their employer.

Reducing employee churn can save tens of thousands per year in recruitment and onboarding costs, so make sure you are including this as a key benefit for any HR transformation project.

This figure can easily be calculated and added to your ROI numbers. How many employees have you lost? What did it cost to replace them and then upskill their replacements? Removing even a small portion of that cost could be a game changer for any business and show management the impact great talent management can have to their bottom line. 

Knowing your why and articulating it

Talent management is critical to a business, but articulating that with data, ROI and solid evidence can be hard to do in a busy and stretched department.

Speaking the right language to the right people can be transformative to HR investment and interest. If you learn how to speak your senior leaders’ language, with evidence to back it all up, suddenly you could find yourself with all the tools, attention and investment needed to take talent management at your organisation to the next level.

If you would like to speak with me or one of my colleagues about putting together your business case for talent transformation, get in touch for an informal chat about how we can support your 2024 goals

About the Cornerstone SMB employee team

At Cornerstone UK and Ireland, we speak with and advise hundreds of businesses with less than 1,000 employees every year, helping them to transform their HR and L&D management programmes. Our team comprises four dedicated SMB Consultants who understand the challenges of this market space – why not reach out to kick-start your talent transformation with the SMB Talent Experts?

Author Profile Picture
Benjamin Peermamode-Murphy

SMB consultant

Read more from Benjamin Peermamode-Murphy
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