CEOs And CHROs: Charting A Powerful Path Forward

CEOs And CHROs: Charting A Powerful Path Forward

The recent pandemic gave a different level of challenges but, more than that, a much-awaited opportunity for the CHROs to prove their potential and meaningful existence in the system.


Historically, an HR profile is considered a core people profile rather than a business profile. People mainly would tag a CEO to business, a CFO to financial stability, and a CHRO to employee management without creating an essential link between the three. Conceptually, 60 % of these profiles run in their own space without many interdependencies for most of us. For leaders, HR would either be a source of data or a team that handles all transactional processes to maintain the employee life cycle. The said perspective won’t change unless the CEO and the CHRO share and co-own some part of their respective spheres. If these two are aptly aligned, most strategies and initiatives will be more effective and progressive.


A shift in focus


I feel that the recent pandemic gave a different level of challenges but, more than that, a much-awaited opportunity for the CHROs to prove their potential and meaningful existence in the system. Nearly every Organisation conceded that numbers alone couldn’t be the focus; human capital needs equal, if not more. The People-focus approach intensified further when the world acknowledged human skills and a personalized approach as primary and future skills to meet all the challenges thrown by the Covid- 19 and beyond. One department that had everybody’s attention and expectation was HR. Leaders accepted that business and numbers could take a back seat for a while, and CHROs should be facilitated with more support to ensure that our people feel valued and needed. The pandemic enabled a much-needed platform for the HR fraternity and helped them secure a rightful place in the structure and be included in the strategic decisions.


It’s evident that the approach now is more employee-centric, definitely more than where it was two to three years ago; not because people or businesses have drastically have seen shifts, but we have begun considering the people aspect as necessary as the business. The CEOs who focus on the company and its growth are equally aware of employees’ needs; with the help of HR, thus they can create a system that proves to be a win-win for all. As Ken Blanchard rightly said, “None of us is as smart as all of us” it has been noticed that the magic happens when people come together with a purpose. Reason? Shared and co-owned responsibilities, data, and eventually the outcome. I am using the acronym “SHARED” to showcase why this duo’s association can make the system. Their co-owned strategies will be: Synced, Holistic, Appropriate, Relatable, Executable, and Dynamic. I will elaborate a little more on each to present my perspective:


Synced: It’s more like a driver and a navigator relationship. If both know where they are headed, by when they want to reach, which route should be taken and what all resources would be needed, they will be able to make it at the right time in the right way.


Holistic: Because they are both accountable for the overall impact, it becomes wholesome and automatically considers all the aspects ranging from external factors to all the stakeholders and internal business to employee development and growth. Nothing gets missed.


Appropriate: It is not about doing what you think is right but doing what is right. When these two come together, decisions are more realistic and apt. Even when there is a problematic situation or a challenging scenario, these two teams can handle situations appropriately by communicating, conveying, and executing in the best manner.


Relatable: The approach is more relatable to both as they have come together, knowing that they will use their data interdependently to connect the dots and bridge the gaps. Being on the same page always helps. When the entire picture is shared and showcased, it becomes easier and more reasonable to change, adapt, and accept the needs of the business, time, and people.


Executable: We have all internally questioned other teams and their decisions. Because of the hierarchy, we may accept orders but may not be a hundred percent positive as we may not know the rationale behind the same. Being in the same room, discussing and understanding each other’s strengths, issues, challenges, and capabilities enables decision making and helps develop executable initiatives and strategies.


Dynamic: Simple rule of being on the same page always makes all decisions, strategies, and approaches nimble, which is one of the critical needs of today’s time looking at the evolutions and transformations happening every day. An interconnected system can make switches much more convenient and effortless than disconnected ones.


Deriving shared meaning


Managing human capital is one of the top challenges for Organisations today. The objective of every move should be meaningfully derived and communicated to the stakeholders. The CEO and CHRO must unite to ensure a prosperous journey through and with people. We have all heard about the transformational journey of HR from transactional to business partner to strategic partner. Their best capacity got further enhanced by getting an opportunity to recreate their role and play a critical part in the upper echelons of the company structure, where CEOs partner with the CHROs than treating them as a window to pass on the data and information. The role of HR has become more than just the defined hierarchical position.


All Organisations talk about ROI on employee engagement and other human capital-related strategies. However, the essential question is how open are we to understanding and including HR as part of revenue, margin, rate card, resource utilization percentage, and other people-business-centric data points? Organisations believe in devising a “Resource Management Group” that works with the CTO of the company. Past facts show that either management didn’t consider HR could do more than core HR or HR chiefs never really considered exploring the other side of the table. Whatever the reason was, it kept business numbers delinked from people analytics.


Now that the world has accepted that if not “employees first,” it can’t be second or last either; it has to be as important as client or business. Business, client, and culture are created and maintained by people; they must feel valued, and the keepers (People managers and HR) must feel heard. When they are all actually part of the same game, the same team, playing on a shared playground with the same and shared rules, it becomes so simple to decode and emphasize that they are playing with and for each other and not otherwise. That’s the magic of coownership.


The power of coexistence and collaboration is known to all. We all know that “When it’s shared, it can be seen and heard. And when it can be seen and heard, it can be trusted.” Similarly, when told, it can be executed; when included, it can be co-owned. Have you heard of “Think like a CEO before acting like a CHRO” and vice versa? My question is, why think when you can actually discuss and work together.


Let’s GATHER the TWO, TOGETHER to tango.

Dr Ankita Singh is the Senior Vice President & Global Head of HR at CIGNEX. She has over 19 years of experience in managing various aspects of HR spanning across domains of ITES. She holds a PhD in Management and was named one of Forbes India’s Top 100 Great People Managers.


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