I’ve taken quite an unusual route to becoming a CEO. Unlike many others in the same position as me, who progress from Director level Operations or Finance roles, I was previously an HR Director (perhaps explains why we do what we do at The Curve Group!).
Having a formal HR background has given me a different perspective from which to run a business. As a leader, I’m naturally very people-focused. I think it’s definitely given me an advantage as I can see – in the form of real people – how to build, grow and sustain successful businesses. However, it’s all very well planning and strategizing etc. but if you don’t have the right people in the right place at the right time, you’ll get nowhere. As is the case in most service businesses, people are therefore my biggest asset. That does not mean that I don’t get lonely at the top.
Whilst I call upon my leadership team for their opinions on how to harness any day-to-day opportunities or resolve any challenges, despite being an HR professional by background I still need a sounding board or an external perspective on the bigger issues and opportunities which arise from owning a business.
So who do I turn to?
Personal networks are useful of course, but you can’t always be sure that confidential conversations will stay that way. This is especially important to consider when you need to make decisions that will impact your teams and their livelihoods.
Many businesses default to seeking advice from legal professionals. I think this typically happens once an issue already exists. This may well be due to the cost implications or the fact that leaders can’t get ahead enough to have the mind space to make plans and decisions in good time. At the moment especially, I know that can be difficult.
In my opinion, business leaders are missing an opportunity to engage with their professional partners and use them as the external sounding board they need.
In my opinion, business leaders are missing an opportunity to engage with their professional partners and use them as the external sounding board they need. This opinion is based on an assumption that you have already chosen to outsource elements of your business to these partners because you trust their capabilities, need their expertise and value their experience. I am also assuming that professionalism and mutual trust is implicit in your relationship with them. On a tighter note, you will also have contractual clauses in place to enable the safe exchange of information between the two entities. So, if all of the above applies, and you are already paying these providers, why wouldn’t you tap into their deeper expertise to help to inform your own decisions?
For example, our Employee Relations advice outsource service is appealing to our clients for a number of reasons i.e. it saves their business time, teams are freed up to focus on core business activities, processes are compliant and it’s cheaper than hiring an ER expert themselves or engaging a solicitor. The service is primarily for the use of Line Managers within our client businesses and 90% of the time, we’re supporting them to resolve day-to-day issues with their employees however, we also provide strategic, long-term advice to their leadership teams. They want and need our HR expertise and deeper understanding of the critical link between people and operations to guide them on the best route of action for their business as they develop their long-term strategies. Given my HR background, I am often that sounding board for our clients, providing them with my honest opinion on their best course of action.
Personally, I have an excellent relationship with our professional partners and seek opportunities to discuss my future plans for the business with them to get their steer and opinions on the steps I’m planning to take
Spring is always a good time for Leaders to plan ahead. Everyone has (hopefully) been able to have some time away from working in their business over Christmas which provides a forced sense of perspective. If your financial year also resets with the tax year in April, it’s also the time when budget discussions and preparations on the details for the next financial year begin.
So why not open the door to your professional partners beyond the day to day services they provide, and help them to help you to move forwards.
Just my opinion, but I really do hope it helps.