The Chief Human Resources Officer: Defining the Role of Today's HR Leader

The Human Resources function has experienced a dramatic transformation over the past century. Along the way, roles and responsibilities have shifted
as internal business models and external market conditions have changed. The evolution of the perception of HR, however, has not kept pace.

HR is beginning to break from its traditional, process-oriented role into a new, strategic function that solves real business problems.

Seven Traits of a Successful Chief Human Resources Officer

The future of the HR function lies in leaders who are able to provide operational value, respond to pressing business challenges and connect human capital decisions with business strategy.

Stepping into this new role is not an easy task and the path to success will vary based on the specific challenges your organization faces. However, there are seven characteristics that are consistent among best-in-class Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs). Following them will jumpstart your success:

1. Enable Strategic Workforce Planning.

To achieve business goals, successful CHROs must work with their business leaders to develop strategic workforce plans that meet their long-term human capital demands. To do this, CHROs need a clear vision that aligns talent with the strategic direction of their organization. With many companies failing to articulate a strategy that encompasses human capital needs, the CHROs who do this effectively will create a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to talent.

2. Align with Line Managers.

The best CHROs arm line managers with the information and tools they need to engage and motivate the workforce. By working hand-in-hand with line managers to enhance the employer brand and corporate culture, HR leaders can help increase workplace productivity and employee loyalty.

3. Speak the Language of Influence.

Successful CHROs understand their organization’s business – from market influences, to key challenges and objectives, to financial performance. This knowledge allows them to speak the language of the C-suite and use performance metrics to drive their workforce management strategies. Trusted HR leaders must know their organization’s business inside and out, and give a sales presentation as competently as discussing turnover solutions.

4. Embrace Data.

Successful CHROs understand that designing and executing against their human capital strategies is only part of the job. It’s also critical that they gauge the efficacy of their efforts and illustrate the impact human capital has on the bottom line. CHROs must take advantage of the tools and technologies they have at their disposal to make more informed decisions based on meaningful data.

5. Own the Employer Brand Strategy.

The best CHROs clearly define their employer brand and partner with marketing to communicate that brand internally and externally. Companies that successfully align their employer brand with their outward brand to attract employees and screen for cultural fit will be better positioned to recruit, engage and retain the talent they need to succeed.

6. Mitigate Human Capital Risks.

Effective CHROs aren’t only charged with the “softer” side of human capital management; they also serve as the internal leaders when it comes to achieving compliance with local, state and federal labor standards. Adding to their list of responsibilities, the best CHROs also identify, mitigate and report on non-regulatory human capital risks. These people-related business risks can have a significant and negative impact on the company’s bottom line, reputation and future success.

7. Partner with Outside Experts.

Most HR departments don’t have the bandwidth to do it all. The most effective CHROs will identify when to use internal resources and when to partner with an outside expert to achieve their talent objectives. Strategic partnership with service providers like RPO firms can free up CHROs to focus on other strategic imperatives and provide results that help them secure the trust of the C-suite.

It is time for HR professionals to transform their approach to talent and focus on the bigger business picture. With an increasingly uncertain and global business environment, organizations need top talent, enduring structures, and efficient processes to outperform the market. The best CHROs are already linking work and people to business results. Are you ready to do the same?