We’ve all been to a wedding at some point in our life right?

And if you’ve been at the ‘top’ table I’m guessing you were an important part of the wedding i.e. Bride(s), Groom(s), Best Man (or woman), Bridesmaid, parent of one of the people getting married.

If you haven’t had a seat at the top table it doesn’t mean that you’re not important, or that having you there is less important, but having a seat at the top table symbolises your relationship with the two people who are exchanging their vows.

And this is where HR need to be, at the top table.  Not on a side table, not near the front and ‘at the top table if there had been room’, but at the top table.

HR need to be positioned at the side of the CEO, adding value, building relationships and focusing on the performance and profitability of the business and demonstrate how this can be achieved by the people in the business.  HR need to be the CEO and Leadership team’s trusted confidante, the go to people that can help to drive performance through people.

So how do you get a seat at the top table?

Build a string relationship with the CEO – Without buy in from the top, it’s likely that you’ll be reporting into ‘someone more important than you’, and what’s more important than the people who are in the business?  Nothing – Without the people you have no business.  And if even if you are focused on tech and robots, you still need people.

Make friends with data – You need to be able to be able to position what you are trying to achieve with performance data, even if you don’t like data.  I can guarantee you that most of the decisions in your business are based on data of some kind. Make friends with data, and use the data to show what you can change in the business.

Demonstrate your value – Not the cost of your function, although that may also be useful, but the value you can create.  How much have you contributed to cost and efficiency savings?  How has the development of your people contributed to increases in performance?  How has treating your people as adults decreased sickness levels and increased retention?

Make an impact – Speak to your people, implement initiatives that work, for your business and your people.  When the people in the business talk about you being an employer of choice, rather than HR talking about what they are doing to help you become an employer of choice, then you’ve made it.

If you’re at the top table, share with us the difference it has made to your business, if not, how do you intend to get there?


 Kelly Swingler is the Rule Breaker and Founder of Chrysalis Consulting, The People and Change Experts and was appointed as the UK’s Youngest HR Director.  Kelly is passionate about helping people find bespoke people solutions to suit the needs of their business and is driving our mission of inspiring and empowering 10,000 HR professionals in 2018. She is the author of Fostering a Mindset for Career SuccessAGILE HR and what’s your excuse for not Overcoming Stress and speaks at many events on the Future of Work.