Scott Eblin is the author of “The Next Level” and president of The Eblin Group, a leadership development and strategy firm that supports organizations in ensuring the success of their executive level leaders. Fellow #LASHRM12 presenter Mary Ellen Slayter asked him a few questions in advance of his keynote address.
In what ways do you think the role of the HR professional has changed since your days as #trenchHR, as Charlie Judy likes to call it? In what ways has it stayed the same?
So, my HR heyday was back in the ’90s, and I was fortunate enough in both companies I worked for to have the kind of CEO that every HR leader would want to have. They were both convinced of the impact that HR could have on business results. That was kind of rare 15 years ago. I think it is less so today. Talent management was an emerging concept without a name back then. These days, I think talent management is what most executives expect HR to deliver. The separation of the more purely administrative aspects of HR from the more strategic aspects has helped move the field forward I think.
What is the biggest challenge HR professionals face when transitioning from functional roles in their departments to executive roles? What’s your advice for overcoming that?
One of the big challenges in making that transition is not really unique to HR – it’s the challenge of leading and setting the agenda for people who once were your peers on the org chart.
My advice for an HR exec in this situation would be the same for any exec. Have some conversations early on about roles and responsibilities, what is expected of you in your new role and what you need and expect from each member of your team. In addition to that, I think it’s really important to establish co-equal relationships with your new executive peers.
You have to let go of a small footprint view of your role and pick up a big footprint view. You’re a member of your organization’s executive team and, as such, are on stage in a more pronounced way. One of the benefits that comes with that is the perspective you gain from being in conversations that you may have not been in previously. Part of your new job is to share that perspective (in appropriate ways) with your team so they have a better understanding of the strategic context for their work.
You wrote a great blog post last year about how a bad HR chief can brief down a CEO. Any advice for HR leaders to recognize that they themselves may be committing these sort of high crimes of HR?
So, here’s the bad news. If you’re committing them you’re the wrong person for the job in the first place. The common denominator in the five factors discussed in that post is the manifestation of a narcissistic ego. No HR executive can be successful if they can’t keep their ego and sense of self-aggrandizement in check. The job is simply too visible and there are too many people willing to take shots at it for anyone that doesn’t have their ego under control to survive for very long.