What Keeps the C-Suite Up at Night: Focusing on the Priorities that Matter

by Debbie Shotwell | Posted | Business Impact

What Keeps the C-Suite Up at Night: Focusing on the Priorities that Matter

Last week, we kicked off our four-part blog series on "Making the Business Case for Talent Management," with Think Like a CEO: Tips for Getting your Talent Initiatives Approved. In that post, we shared a few tips for building more effective business cases for your proposed talent initiatives.

This week we'll discuss ways to more effectively speak to (and garner buy-in from) each of the high-level executives involved in the decision-making process. Last week we touched on the importance of understanding what keeps your C-suite up at night when crafting your business case. Here is that excerpt from last week's post:

Know What Keeps Your C-Suite Up at Night

So your great new solution to the problem you've identified is to implement a better training program, a new compensation plan or a more strategic recruiting process. What executives hear is "we must spend more." What they need to hear is how investing in your initiative will increase profitability.

When pitching your talent programs, take a step back and think about your organization's strategic priorities and the KPIs the C-suite really cares about. Then, figure out how your talent programs will impact them. Has your CEO prioritized expansion into emerging markets? Rather than saying your time-to-hire rates need improvement, translate that into what impact time-to-hire has on your organization's ability to penetrate these new markets and drive top-line growth.

So what does the C-suite care about, and how do you tailor your pitch depending on which executive you're talking to? While overall business performance is a good place to start, each executive also has unique objectives. The CIO, for instance, surely has some specific priorities that aren't necessarily high on the list of priorities for the CFO or CMO. Once you understand the key priorities of each executive, you can then use that knowledge to tailor your pitch and make a more compelling business case.

While each organization has different strategic business priorities and annual goals, below we've listed a few typical priorities for each executive in the C-suite. In each section below you'll also find a brief example demonstrating how you might align the benefits of a proposed talent initiative - in this case, a learning management system (LMS) - with that particular executive's key priorities.

CEO Priorities:

  • Driving top-line growth
  • Reducing product costs
  • Expanding market share
  • Maximizing shareholder value

Example pitch: The new LMS will enable the global sales team to rapidly get up to speed on new products, maximizing the success of product launches and increasing gross sales. By providing sales reps in emerging regions with the real-time training they need to sell more effectively, the LMS will also enable the organization to more quickly expand market share in these emerging regions and help us capture a first-mover advantage.

CFO Priorities:

  • Reducing risk exposure
  • Controlling the budget
  • Accurately forecasting cash flow
  • Managing strategic mergers and acquisitions
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance

Example pitch: The new LMS will allow Finance to quickly and effectively administer and track required compliance training resulting from strategic acquisitions and regulatory changes. Travel expenses associated with training will also be reduced as more learning is offered online.

CIO Priorities

  • Managing cyber-security and information risk
  • Establishing a culture of innovation
  • Simplifying IT infrastructure and applications
  • Ensuring uptime and performance of IT Systems

Example pitch: As a cloud-based platform, the new LMS will require less internal technical support, enabling the IT team to focus their efforts on more strategic value-added priorities. The short time to launch also allows employees to quickly begin learning, adding to a positive perception of the IT leadership. Additionally, the LMS platform exceeds industry security and compliance standards, ensuring we maintain the data security and privacy of our employees' personally identifiable information.

CHRO Priorities:

  • Improving talent retention
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Building a strong talent pipeline
  • Leveraging HR analytics to drive decision-making

Example pitch: Internal surveys have shown that our employees want more opportunities for professional career growth and development in our organization. This new LMS will have a significant positive impact on employee satisfaction, resulting in improved employee engagement and retention.

CMO Priorities:

  • Ensuring a consistent brand experience
  • Driving customer loyalty
  • Increasing quantity and quality of leads
  • Demonstrating marketing's impact on revenue

Example pitch: With an increasingly global organization, it also becomes increasingly difficult for the corporate marketing team to ensure brand standards are met. This new LMS will enable the marketing team to update brand standards and communicate those out quickly to the global organization.

These are just a few examples to get things started but, as you can see, tailoring your proposal to your audience will help you deliver a more compelling business case. By first understanding the priorities of each executive you're aiming to get buy-in from, you can then clearly lay out for each executive how the proposed initiative is well aligned with and will help them achieve their key objectives.

Making the Business Case for Talent Management Ebook

It's everything you need to get executive buy-in and ongoing support for your proposed talent initiatives.


Free Ebook
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Making the Business Case for Talent Management Ebook

It's everything you need to get executive buy-in and ongoing support for your proposed talent initiatives.


Free Ebook


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