As a former CHRO (Chief Human Resources Officer), I’m familiar with the role. Leader of the HR team, confidant of the CEO, the person in charge of the individuals who drive the larger corporate machine. We mitigate legal risk, optimize performance, handle personal and career growth, and essentially make sure the company can do what it wants to do.
Oversimplified, perhaps, but at its core, this is what the role has traditionally always done. It’s the job description in a nutshell with a bit of travel and crisis management thrown in.
The issue with this description is that it’s incredibly limiting and antiquated. This is the old HR. We drive the processes that help the larger company machinery work. We push paper. We help them avoid HR-related lawsuits. We coach. Not that any of this is unimportant. But the role, the department, the very practice of HR is capable of so much more.
Let’s stop to consider for a moment the charges for which HR is responsible: human resources. It says it in the name. We are responsible for the very lifeblood of the company. The corporation cannot run without them, the industry would fail without them, the goals and dreams and profitability of our organizations lies squarely on their shoulders.
People are more than paper pushing; they are the keys to corporate capacity. As the owner of all things having to do with the utilization, motivation, and longevity of these resources, HR owns corporate capacity. Nothing gets done without us. Isn’t it time we started acting like it?
We need a new definition of the CHRO
Take this information forward and you can see a newer, bigger definition of the CHRO. They own the keys to corporate capacity. They are the captain of the ship to a large degree. What is the future of these resources? Where is the next evolution of talent coming from? What must be done to shift operations to support their entry? How do you attract this next evolution of talent? Do you have the capacity to make talent or do you have to buy it?
With these decisions, the CHRO is essentially how their budgets will impact the profitability of the entire company. They are, in fact, acting as a business owner. They are CEOs. Why yes, indeed, they are: CHROs are the CEO’s of HR. As such, it’s time we start treating them as such.
CEOs act from a larger business strategy. They utilize their budget to increase profitability and reduce overhead.
HR impacts the overall business health of the entire corporation, so the CEO of HR should assume the position of incredible power. They should step into a position of larger corporate planning. They should interact with the board. They should attend leadership conferences with the CEO, for they should be planning corporate direction with that individual, not planning for execution behind them.
In my forthcoming book and with my current clients, I stress this new definition of the CHRO quite heavily. We must start looking at this position with the importance it carries, and we must lift it from process and procedure to planning and strategic direction. This is the future of the CHRO, and the time to seize the opportunity is now. Contact me today and let’s make the change for your organization today.
Rita Trehan, a former Chief Human Resources Officer, now serves as a global business-transformation and capacity-building expert with more than 20 years' experience. She has helped Fortune 200 companies and large corporations worldwide to improve operational efficiency, performance, consistency, and profits, successfully delivering transformation projects for global firms including Honeywell, AES Corporation, Coca-Cola and the World Bank.
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