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The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), once perceived as merely a support function, has undergone a significant evolution, now standing as a strategic partner and a critical member of the executive leadership team. Recognizing the importance of human capital as a cornerstone for business success, modern CHROs have come into prominence. Notably, figures like Mary Barra of General Motors and Anne Mulcahy of Xerox have even transitioned from CHRO to CEO positions. This evolution began to take shape in the early-2000s with the emergence of "human capital management". It was amplified by challenges introduced by the pandemic, which led to the rise of remote work and alternative working models. Additionally, the increased focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and employee well-being has pushed these topics to the forefront of corporate agendas. CHROs are now celebrated for recognizing employees as strategic assets, understanding the complexities of the global workforce, and shaping corporate culture during crises. Their prowess extends beyond traditional HR functions, leveraging data analytics to inform business direction and integrating technologies to enhance and augment talent capabilities, marking them as transformative growth leaders.
The CHRO success profile has unfolded alongside HR’s evolving role. Today's CHRO embodies a blend of advanced education with strategic acumen. A successful CHRO combines cross-functional experience and data-driven decision-making with competencies in global leadership, change management, and technological adeptness. The evolution reflects a role that has grown to require visionary communication, business acumen, and a deep understanding of how to build and manage a diverse, global workforce to shape the Future of Work within organizations. As strategic collaborators, they have developed an HR coaching and consulting relationship with the business to help other corporate leaders navigate the complexities of the modern workplace.
As a detailed blueprint to clarify what is needed to be successful in a given role, the Success Profile highlights the idealized mix of experience, skills, and abilities required for demanding roles such as the one performed by CHROs. Instead of just being a list of job duties, it serves as a holistic standard, steering recruitment, growth, and future top-leadership role transitions. Specifying critical qualities and backgrounds, it becomes an essential tool that enables organizations to spot and foster the most suitable candidates, ensuring they align with company goals for the overall success of the business.
Sample CHRO Success Profile
The CHRO's success profile is about blending human resource expertise with business leadership and strategic insight. As businesses continue to recognize the strategic value of HR, the expectations and requirements for a successful CHRO will continue to elevate, integrating broader business competencies with established HR skills.
The example presented serves as a single instance of what a CHRO Success Profile might entail when viewed alone. Crafting a compelling profile for such a role necessitates a custom approach, one that aligns with the specific demands and context of the organization, conforms to the established HR delivery model, and takes into account the corporate hierarchy's positioning of the CHRO role. Furthermore, it is also essential to be cognizant of the differences between the more widely adopted Human Resources (HR) and Human Capital Management (HCM) organizations in comparison to the relatively newer "People Operations" approach. These terms are often used interchangeably but while they have many overlapping characteristics, they also have distinct attributes.
Creating a tailored success profile for the CHRO or any other critical organizational role involves a thorough process that starts with understanding the strategic objectives of the organization and how the role supports them. Consultations with key stakeholders help identify essential competencies and unique attributes of successful incumbents. Industry benchmarks and best practices inform the standard expectations and traits for the role. Educational, experiential, and skill requirements are detailed, with input from organizational leaders to ensure the profile is realistic and reflects the company’s values. Once finalized, this profile guides HR practices, such as hiring and training, to foster alignment with the organizational vision. It must also be periodically updated to adapt to evolving organizational and industry dynamics.
CHROs have become, to an extensive degree, growth officers for their corporations, playing a pivotal role at the intersection of organizational strategy, workforce dynamics, and technology adoption. They act as chief collaborators across the organization, promoting a culture of unity, adaptability, and innovation. In the modern data-centric environment, they leverage analytics and new technologies to understand and anticipate employee needs and behaviors. This insight helps them prepare for future workplace demands, aligning talent strategy with current and envisioned business goals. They are now expected to navigate complex challenges and catalyze the transformation required for businesses to thrive in an ever-changing global economy. The strategic priorities for CHROs must reflect a deep understanding of these challenges and the need to build resilient, adaptable, and innovative human capital practices. In this context, CHROs must lead with both vision and agility to steer their organizations toward sustained success.
Leadership in Uncertain Times: The rapidly changing business landscape demands leaders who can pivot and adapt to unforeseen challenges. CHROs must prioritize cultivating a leadership pipeline that is equipped to handle uncertainty. This requires:
Championing Organizational Culture and Employee Experience: A strong culture is foundational for engagement and performance, directly impacting an organization's ability to attract and retain talent. The CHRO must shape and sustain an organizational culture that aligns with strategic goals by:
Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) as a Business Imperative: DEI is not just a moral imperative; it has been shown to drive innovation and better business outcomes. Solid and effective DEI then must be driven from the top, with CHROs:
Addressing Talent Scarcity with Innovative Strategies: Talent scarcity can hamper growth and innovation, making it essential for CHROs to be proactive in talent management. As the talent landscape is shifting, CHROs must:
Digital Transformation of HR Practices: The strategic use of technology can create significant efficiencies and a competitive advantage in managing human capital. Technology continues to redefine the workplace, and CHROs must lead the digital transformation by:
Enhancing Workforce Flexibility and Well-being: The future of work is flexible, and employee well-being is closely tied to productivity and retention. CHROs must create a sustainable workforce by:
Navigating Regulatory Complexity: Compliance mitigates risk and upholds the organization’s reputation, both internally and externally. As regulatory landscapes evolve, CHROs have a critical role in:
Fostering a Data-Driven HR Function: Informed decision-making based on data can drive strategic advantage and operational excellence. It is central to strategic HR, and CHROs must:
Redefining the Employee Lifecycle: An enriching employee lifecycle is critical to an attractive employer brand and high-performing culture. CHROs must reimagine how they attract, develop, and retain employees by:
For CHROs, the imperative is to lead with a strategic mindset that anticipates and responds to the multifaceted challenges of today's and tomorrow's business environment. Each strategic priority must be pursued with an understanding of its interdependencies and its impact on the organization's overall objectives. By doing so, CHROs will not only champion a workforce that is fit for the future but will also ensure that HR continues to be a key driver of organizational success and a trusted business partner.
Advanced HR Strategy is a refined approach to planning long-term HR priorities. It involves increased specificity of plans and goals around key employee groupings and uses detailed workforce data and projections to clarify the needs and trends impacting those groups.
Before determining how to structure an HR team, a set of considerations should be reviewed regarding the "operating or service delivery model" to be implemented. The model is conceptual and illustrates the types of roles/organizational concepts and how they interact with both the organization and each other.
A template resembling a job description further detailed with the competencies and useful experiences that separate minimum job requirements from the attributes and experiences of an individual who is viewed as highly likely to be highly successful in the role.