HR Management

Corporate Health: HR’s Route to the C-Suite?

“Corporate health” is that elusive state that leads to the C-Suite’s holy grail—sustained growth. But, says top consultant McKinsey & Company, it may also be HR’s entry into a strategic planning role.

Does your company seek sustained, profitable, healthy growth?

According to top consultants, writing in the McKinsey Quarterly, there are five key factors that work together to create that kind of “corporate health” and three harmful attitudes that work against it. First, here are the five attributes of a healthy corporation. (Keep these in mind to take to your next strategic planning session.)

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  1. Resilience—the ability to cope with unkind markets, fickle customers, and relentless competitors
  2. Execution—the determination to do essential tasks well
  3. Alignment—a sense of common purpose and vision for the future
  4. Renewal—a commitment to creativity and growth
  5. “Complementarity”—the synergy created when factors interact so that each enhances the others

Why should you, an HR manager, keep these factors in mind? Because when you look for the drivers of these factors, you’re likely to be struck by a simple fact: It’s largely basic HR management that supports them.

After all, corporate health means clarifying roles; managing communication; hiring, training, and developing the right people; managing performance toward strategic goals; and planning for change—expected and unexpected. All are in the HR manager’s portfolio. According to McKinsey, the message is clear: HR can be corporate health’s champion.

Mental Minefields That Block Corporate Health

McKinsey also lists “mental minefields,” or traps, that block corporate health and sustained growth. Once again, they are HR’s to manage—because, at root, they are all performance management issues.

1. The Mindfulness Trap. This trap is set when companies, or managers, are truly committed to long-term performance but get pulled back into short-term performance by the “press of daily business.”

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2. The Cognitive Trap. This one is sprung by reasoning your way into short-term thinking … determining, for example, that you can’t deal with vague future issues while you deal with concrete current issues.

3. The Self-Knowledge Trap. This is when people don’t actually do what they think or say they do. They say (and believe) that they are long-term focused, but their behavior is all short-term. (McKinsey points to a typical example—a manager who talks long term and then gives the biggest reward to his best short-term performer.)

The bottom line for the C-suite—HR is in a great position to foster the five factors of corporate health and to help management guard against the mental minefields that seek to deny it.

By the way, since we’re talking about corporate health, let’s not forget corporate health’s close cousin, corporate wellness, the physical side of health. Do McKinsey’s mental minefields also apply to your health? We’ll see in the next HR Daily Advisor.

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