The Path to the Table is Paved with Business Blocks

I’m a Human Resources Director and I have a seat at the table.

What do you expect me to say next? That it’s awesome and you all should strive to join me? Or that it’s nothing like what you think and it’s awful? Like almost everything in life, the reality lies somewhere in between the two. I landed there because I’ve served many roles in the company as it has grown and I understand how the business works.

The most honest thing I can say about it is this: I feel a huge responsibility. Every word I say at that table represents more than just me. I have an obligation to our shareholders, employees, customers, and community. The job has made me laugh, cry, sigh, and yell in frustration. Yet, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It is important for me to remember one thing: first priority is the team sitting at the table. Every person serves a different role in the company, but when we’re together in that room our focus is the overall health of the company. We all have to pull the oars together – and in sync.

What this means is we have to bring our differing points of view into the room, express them, argue, and come to a consensus. Once that’s done we have to leave that room and support the decisions we’ve made, whether we completely agree with them or not. The atmosphere of the company, the overall performance, comes from the top down. When there’s dysfunction in the C-suite, there’s dysfunction throughout the ranks.

I’m thankful I can represent the female perspective. I’m glad I can represent the human resource point of view. I have a degree in business administration and I have to say it comes in handy, but not as much as the experience I’ve gained over the years. I’ve worked in a large corporate environment, retail, non-profit, and now for a small private employer. My background helps me understand the importance of paying attention to your customers and how small changes can affect the bottom line. Make no mistake – you have to pay attention to profit and loss.

If you really want a seat at the table, make sure you know the business, inside and out. Be prepared to discuss difficult topics, stretch your mind, and make decisions that you may question later. The job isn’t for everyone.

Photo credit iStock Photo

About the Author

April Kunzelman

April Kunzelman, PHR, has a wide range of experience in many aspects of personnel management. For over 10 years, she served as the HR Director for fatwallet.com, building an award-winning culture. April now spends her days working with the non-profit organization Chemo Cargo, aimed at assisting first-time chemotherapy patients. Connect with April on Twitter as @akunzel and @chemocargo.

4 Comments

April Kunzelman

Thanks Lois! Some days are more difficult than others, but I know everyone else has ups and downs too. Respecting the people surrounding you is essential.

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Lois Melbourne

April, You are so on the mark. It is a great responsibility to be part of the top leadership in a company. Different perspectives are needed, yet turf wars should never be part of the process. Often the selection of who is part of that leadership team is based upon the job title they own, but the respect and often even the invitation to participate is based on the value that the individual can provide. If you don’t add value, you may find that when the music ends – it is your seat that has been pulled from the table.

Great job!

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