As mentioned in a prior post, the CAP survey results showed that executives desired specific HR-related expertise that they did not believe they had in-house.
At the same time, our surveys demonstrated that there was a significant discrepancy between the perspectives of HR professionals versus other executives involved in the acquisitions under study. Specifically, this difference showed up in response to the question: “What is the right role for HR?”
In analysing the results, we noticed that there was a difference between the two groups, in answers to the following questions. (NB: A 100 point scale was used ranging from 100 / Agree to 0/Disagree. )
What is the right role for HR?
- Strategic Business Partner: The HR response was 20 points higher (than that of non-HR executives)
- Advisor to Executive Management: The HR response was virtually the same
- HR Functional Expert and Implementer: The HR response was virtually the same
- Project Manager and Thought Leader: The HR response was 13 points higher
- Steward of the HR Functions: The HR response was 33 points lower
- Employee Champion/Advisor: The HR response was 21 points lower
While executives seemed to want the higher-level expertise that most would associate as being HR-related, they had a different opinion. They clearly wanted and needed the skills, but they had a hard time seeing it emanating from the HR function.
The widespread nature of the observation (backed up in the interviews) indicates that this is a challenge for the profession in the region, and is not a problem related to a small set of individual practitioners. The truth is, our observation was that HR professionals were not equipped to answer the questions that CEO’s might ask when it comes to M&A’s, such as:
- how does our company’s culture compare against those across the region?
- what is the difference between acquiring similar companies in Trinidad vs. Guyana?
- what are the best practices in integrating two different corporate cultures in the region?
- who are the HR professionals you know in Belize that could be candidates for an acquisition in that country?
- how deep is our talent pool and is it sufficient to provide the executive leadership we require to undertake one acquisition per year for the next 6 years?
These are sample questions, but they together comprise the essence of the kinds of questions that Caribbean CEO’s leading M&A’s have that, at present, most HR executives are not equipped to answer.
This is not to cast blame on those HR executives who were in the study. The data and the studies from which HR executives would glean answers to these questions just have not been done, the books have not been published, the blogs have not been written and the discussions have not been had.
Hopefully, CAP might make a useful contribution and a difference.