Building credibility – establishing consistency
However, to be confident in a senior business environment, Cheese argues that you have to speak the language of business. “You have to have the knowledge that you are speaking from a position of strength and credibility,” he says.
In HR, this means having insight into your own functional domain, backed up by data, analytics and being able to relate those ideas to a business context and your organisation’s challenges.
“We [HR] have to operate in a less siloed way,” he declares. “We need to recognise that other functions have profound skills we could be applying to our own function – marketing, for example, has deep analytics skills around customers and we should be applying some of that stuff to employees. Stepping up is not just about HR on its own – we have to get better at working with other functions and drawing ideas together so we’re all speaking the same language.”
And while HR’s perceived ‘lack of confidence’ has been a recurring discussion topic, Cheese is keen to point out that a lot of other functions have a similar view of themselves.“This problem is not unique to us.There’s a consistent resident theme that other functions have been siloed too,” he states.
Establishing consistent ways of measuring key people data – and in turn increasing the appetite to report more consistently – is a central agenda for Cheese. “Not everything that is counted counts and not everything that counts is
counted,” he asserts.
He uses recruitment as an example. “This is a classic efficiency debate for HR – often it’s all about reducing the cost of recruitment, but what is more important – reducing cost or recruiting the right people? If recruiting the right people means I will be spending more time understanding behaviour and culture alignment, then surely that’s what we should be measuring rather than the cost of recruitment.”
So what, in Cheese’s view, is the role of the CIPD in helping the profession step up? “It’s to help understand the direction of travel. We’ve been squeezed on efficiency agendas and organisations downsizing have resulted in smaller HR teams. We need to build more assets to improve the capability of the profession, how we promote it, and encourage continued growth and skills within it,” he says.