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Ram Charan to HR Managers: Build a 'People Engine' Geared for Results, Not Vision

— by Bill Cushard

Business goalsHuman resources

Last week I had the great pleasure of hearing Ram Charan speak at the Bay Area Executive Development Network meeting. The theme of Charan’s talk was how the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) can add value and build a people engine that will help the business achieve its objectives.

Charan has written many books and every learning leader I think should read his works. In fact, I would go so far to say that if a learning leader wants to have a seat a the table, it is vital to understand the business he/she serves. One way to learn what business leaders care about is to read Charan’s works, especially his newest book, Talent Masters: Why Smart People Put People Before Numbers.

Results, Not Vision

In his talk, Charan asked the audience to consider two questions:

  • “Is the people engine delivering the business results that are needed?”
  • “What value do you bring to the business?”

In other words, Charan is suggesting that CHROs stop focusing on vision, strategy, and activities, but rather focus on helping the business achieve its objectives. Too many leaders begin with the vision and strategy, and then work out a plan for achieve results. All too often leaders stop short of achieving great results because they are so caught up in the activities of a great vision and strategy. They assume results will just happen. This is one reason CHROs do not always have a seat at the table. A different approach is needed.

Work Backwards

According to Charan, CHROs should begin with the business results their clients want to achieve, create plans to enable the people engine to help acheive those results, and then work backwards to get to the vision and strategy. It makes sense. If CHROs struggle with aligning their efforts with the business or demonstrating whether their work contributes to the business, it is likely they have not asked themselves the two questions above.

As Charan said during this talk, “People don’t get paid for vision. People don’t get paid for strategy. People get paid for results.”

> More on e-learning on the Mindflash blog.

Bill Cushard, Chief Learning Officer at The Knowland Group, is a learning leader with more than 12 years experience in training and performance improvement at companies such as E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.


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