A Human Resources Executive Roundtable

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.

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

Some Key Take-aways

  • 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.