Believe it or not, one of the first companies to hire a CHRO was Xerox, way back in 1985. The role was born in a drastically different world, and continues to evolve, not year to year, but day to day. The critical importance and ever-evolving definition of the modern worker means that demands on the CHRO today are higher than ever.
An article in Forbes tried to wrangle the responsibilities if the CHRO into a paragraph:
CHROs today must support an organization’s overall strategic direction across recruiting, compensation, talent and performance management, succession planning, training, development and more. And, if that wasn’t enough, they must grow their own knowledge in the quickly changing landscape of human capital capability and workforce planning, all while leading their respective organizations’ adaptation toward the digitization of everything.
It’s quite a list. And one thing to note is this article was written in a pre-COVID world. Life for the CHRO was so much simpler then…
At its base, the CHRO holds a strategic leadership position. The difference is it’s not just another seat at the table. Oftentimes it’s more of a couch, bringing several parts of a company together to reach a singular vision for the company’s employees. The most critical role of a CHRO today is recognizing who to invite on to that couch.
Filling your couch starts with a well-articulated high-level goal. It’s not anything new, but revisiting your aim based on current company and employee needs will make sure you’re in line with where things are headed, not just where they’ve been.
Is it attracting, inspiring and retaining the brightest minds? Is it fostering a work-life balance to help people get the most of both? Is it making employee experience the center of every employee’s work life? Find the question that defines your focus, ask yourself if you’re working toward it every day and build the right internal connections to make it happen.
A lot of times this focus will also help you decide where to lead, manage, ask for help or supplement responsibilities. Play to your strengths, because they have gotten you to the C-Suite. Play to the strengths of others to supplement everything else. The difference here is that the people you find to supplement may be outside of the usual suspects. For example, IT is no longer just the backbone of the workplace, but the virtual walls that keep the company together. For the first time ever, IT may need to be looked at as a joint HR and Technology function.
Strong leadership from the CHRO position means elevating outside the everyday to make sure things are strategically on course. It’s orchestrating and architecting the evolving company around your people. Making it all work depends on identifying and motivating the right people to make it happen. A group of people working toward the same goal will always accomplish more than any amount of effort of one individual.
What’s your strategic goal, and who are you partnering with to get it done?