CHROs: What Are You Waiting For?

We know what is a CEO (chief executive officer), a CFO (chief financial officer) and a COO (chief operating officer), but less known is the CHRO, the ‘chief human resources officer.’ To fulfill their role, the HR industry must find its way to the decision table. Here's how to do it.

The HR function is evolving now more than ever.

“We have seen a shift in recent years in Quebec,” says Véronique Boutin, CHRP. “HR is trying to move away from the transactional and operational role and stepped into a more strategic status, taking part in the company’s mission.”

In a 2014 report, Deloitte noticed this phenomenon was taking place all over the world. “Many companies have told us they repositioned their HR function into a business partner role.”

“To achieve this, a key element is to include people from HR to the decision table,” says the counselor.

Now, doing so is an easy feat, given that many entrepreneurs underestimate their own human resources departments, accusing them of “not being ready” to meet the challenges of the 21st century, reports Deloitte.


Leaving the ivory tower

How does one then establish their credibility in the eyes of management? “First of all, HR should not be an office job,” states Boutin. “It is about accompanying your client on the floor, being present and visible, speaking to managers in their language. Forget antiquated HR concepts, which we are the only ones to understand.”

“It's though very close operations that we can demonstrate our added value,” says the counselor.

Author and business consultant Ram Charan made a similar observation in an article in the Harvard Business Review devoted to the HR function. “Among the rare CHROs I know that are able to talk business, I realize they all have one thing in common: they all worked in operations at one time or another – whether in sales, customer service or finance.”

Understanding the numbers

In that same article, Charan describes the role of the CHRO. “The CEO should be able to count on the CHRO in the same way they do on the CFO, whereas they can rely on their expertise to make the link between labor and data to diagnose the company's weaknesses and strengths.”

Data as in Big Data, of course. The concept is very much in vogue, and HR is no exception. “The challenge now is to put in place mechanisms to collect and analyze data. But it's not all data that are interesting or even relevant to a company’s operations,” explains Boutin.

The counselor gives the example of the famous turnover rate, so dear to HR managers. “This rate does not have the same importance in all industries… Take the IT sector, for example, where it is not unusual to see businesses regularly change consultants.”

Relevance, first and foremost

“To be relevant in the eyes of management, the HR sector needs to know the industry in which it operates, it must understand the needs of its customers and must speak the language of business,” says Véronique Boutin.



Deloitte Report :

Ram Charan's articles :


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