Ten Steps Up the C-Suite Ladder to Effectively Smash Open the Doors

The first Human Resource conference I attended in the early 90’s was titled “How to gain a seat at the table.”  For over a quarter of a century this has been a dream for most HR professionals and others trying to have impact in the organization’s core strategies and decision making processes. The seat at the table is elusive, but all of us can have influence and it involves some purposeful ladder climbing techniques.

A ten step strategy to put you on course to capture the seat this year – this is your year!

  1. Rung one – Master the essentials of your chosen industry.  If HR, then become technically proficient in culture, comp, compliance, hiring, onboarding etc.
  2. Rung two – Develop an executive presence.  Not just seen physically, but actively contributing in the social media and internet space that the C-suite frequents.  Read what they read, comment on what they read, and share what you have learned.
  3. Rung three – Learn to crunch the numbers with analytics and data on matters the C-suite has an interest in.  Include events that impact the bottom line like turnover, benefits as compared to competitors, employee surveys, client satisfaction scores, attraction etc.
  4. Rung four – Invest in your skills by taking a course in project management.  Volunteer to take a company project from beginning to the end and this will get you noticed.
  5. Rung five – Continued education and certification including a MBA to give yourself credibility that you understand the moving parts of a successful business.
  6. Rung six – Know you organization through and through and why your business works the way it does.    Involve yourself in departmental discussions to learn what each area is dealing with in conjunction to its impact on the strategic vision of the company.
  7. Rung seven – Numerous positions including human resources are considered cost centers within an organization.  Think clearly about making your role a revenue generator.  Your value to the C-suite will go up exponentially if you understand what you bring to the table.
  8. Rung eight – Do not isolate yourself from your employees, rather build strong relationships by listening to others, respond thoughtfully and offer suggestions that encourage collaboration.
  9. Rung nine – Find a mentor or someone more advanced in their career and watch them as they build relationships and provide value to their organization.
  10. Rung ten – The instance you have moved to the level of influence you desire, contribute, contribute and then contribute some more.

You must become skilled at the language of the C-suite.  What do they deal with?  M&A, industry language, know what success looks like to this select group you have managed to climb into the bunk with and know the space that you own and why you are the expert.  You are a contributor and that’s what the C-Suite is looking for to join the table.

The next several posts will go into deeper detail on each rung.  Share with me additional rungs that you feel are necessary to take you to the top of your organization in the comments section.

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