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A good HR person 'doesn't care about HR'

Effective HR professionals should see themselves primarily as "business people who happen to work in HR", according to Henley Business School Centre for HR Excellence co-director Nick Holley.

Speaking on a panel at the HR Tech Europe conference in Amsterdam, Holley added that a lot of HR people take a "very HR-centric view of the world".

"Henley has recently done some research into what CEOs want from HR," he said. "One of the common themes is CEOs saying 'we expect you to do HR, but we don't care about it. Don't bother us with it, just do it. But, by the way, if you don't do it you're in real trouble.'"

What many CEOs are looking for from their HR leaders is a "corporate director," according to Holley.

"They want someone who is a member of the leadership team and contributes to the whole, because they recognise the biggest challenge they face is building strategic capability for their organisation."

Holley believes there are many HR directors who are thinking this way, but too many "start from an HR perspective".

"A good HR person, at the end of the day, doesn't think of themselves as an HR person," Holley said. "The point is not how credible the function is. We need to be worried about shareholders and customers. A good HR person doesn't actually care about HR."