Multi-skilling is HR’s passport to the boardOn 18 Jan 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article The 1980s and early 1990s were about downsizing when the finance directorruled; but this is the age of talent. The employer’s greatest asset hasappreciated – or so we are told.So why is this not reflected in the structure of large companies? Thelong-awaited leap of personnel professionals onto the board has not happened.Cranfield University, whose four-yearly survey monitors the level of boardrepresentation of human resources directors, finds the figure stuck at around50 per cent .Yet the flat bar chart is deceptive. It is not the case that ponderouscorporates are ignoring the competitive advantage of people strategies.It is sadly the case that they are not always turning to the HR directorwhen they want a solution. They frequently call in one of the larger managementconsultancies. This does not mean that the board is always right. It does notmean that the HR professional is always under-skilled. But where exclusion fromthe top level is not justified, it is up to the HR function to demonstrate thatthis is the case. The act of doing so proves the case: such negotiating skillsare among the attributes necessary to thrive at this level.To be taken seriously personnel professionals need to know about finance andbusiness strategy as well as employment law and the administrative system. Ourown reader research shows that there is a shortage of HR managers with thisrare combination .There is a particular high demand in fast growing areas, like e-commerce,where skill requirements are high; skills shortages are endemic; and staffloyalty is viewed as something grandad used to talk about .In this sector the board expects the HR department to devise share schemesthat beat the competition, and continuous recruitment strategies that monitorthe best people. Meanwhile, they will often be expected to create a companyculture as they meld a half dozen start-ups which have been thrown together ina hasty merger.Get this right – without forgetting the crucial administrative function –and the seat on the board is guaranteed.