A Human Resources Executive Roundtable

The best Boards have a constant flow of input from HR, and we wanted to promote that communication by educating senior HR executives on how to maximize their impact.
Mark Lonergan, Founder & Senior Partner, Lonergan Partners

On Friday, December 9, 2011, Lonergan Partners hosted an event with top Human Resource executives in technology. Participants focused on a discussion of ‘Having a Greater Impact with your Public Board.” The discussion was spirited and participants came away with insight and advice. The group agreed that the SVP of Human Resources in a public company is uniquely qualified to help the CEO work effectively with the board. The SVP can spot challenges, smooth disagreements, and coach the CEO to promote his/her agenda more effectively with the board as well as any key constituency. Some key take-aways from the discussion:

  • HR executives can do a lot to support the CEO by being proactive with the board—helping to signal items before they become board-visible problems.
  • Working with individual board members outside of board meetings can help insure there are no surprises in the board meeting itself.
  • Two to three members of the board are especially key—they are the ones who add the most value and have the most influence.
  • Building personal one-on-one relationships with these board directors ahead of time can help when tough issues need to be dealt with later.
  • Most SVPs of HR get access to the board during comp committee meetings. The best ones use that time to discuss not only comp but also other HR issues that have little to do with comp but only if their compensation work has been professional and complete.
  • Board members have a huge number of MIPs and no memory. Translation: they are awfully smart, but often remember little from previous meetings and discussions. The smart HR executive does not assume they are as close to the issues as the management team will be.
  • Board interaction can be a mixed blessing. Too little and you’re marginalized as a member of the management team. Too much and you can create detractors on the board. The smart HR executive figures out the right balancing act for his/her company.