The New Role of the Human Resources Leader In Business Today

The days where HR professionals are viewed strictly as administrative paper pushers are finally gone. According to this CHRO, great opportunities and even greater expectations lie ahead – and that in itself is an important breakthrough for the profession. Here’s some new thinking on the topic.

September 14, 2017 – In today’s very competitive business landscape, HR experts must wear multiple hats and help their employers adapt to a quickly changing workforce. The days where HR professionals are viewed strictly as administrative paper pushers are finally gone.

“While today’s HR leader probably has the most stressful job in recent years, the opportunities are the greatest they have ever been, where HR can be part of the decision making process and really make a difference,” Sandy M. Srebnick, CHRO | chief administrative officer | growth & business transformation specialist. “As organizations finally realize that they must make their employees their No. 1 priority, CEOs and the C-suite more frequently turn to HR for multiple solutions. Never has HR been expected to do so much, to be a true visionary.”

Wearing Many Hats

Ms. Srebnick shares here some of the many hats that HR professionals must now wear:

Business Partner: understand the organization’s business and P & L; have a seat at the executive table

Chief Talent Officer: create a first class talent management process & pipeline

Innovator: think “outside of the box” and stay ahead of business and HR trends

Disruptor: rethink the traditional ways of doing things

Member & Counsel to the Executive Team: influence the firm’s strategy

Listener, Advocate & Coach: insure that employees feel that they are being treated fairly and consistently

Chief Cheerleader & Marketer: be the cultural champion of the firm internally & externally; create a unified work environment

Communicator: make transparency a key part of the job

Compliance Officer: be well-versed in federal, state & local employment law

HR finally has a front row seat in this employee driven market where work/life balance and flexibility are just some of the demands forcing businesses to change their approaches. Employees today have more choices than ever before and organizations must pay attention if they want to be an ‘Employer of Choice’ in this knowledge-based economy.

Since people are the life-blood of any enterprise and HR manages people, HR and business are a necessary and important alliance for success.

CHROs in High Demand

According to a report released by Visier, executives say their company cannot succeed without an assertive, data-driven CHRO, who takes a strong stance on talent issues and uses relevant facts to deliver an informed point of view.

“CEOs want to think of the CHRO the way they think of the CFO,” said John Schwarz, CEO and founder of Visier, a provider of workforce intelligence solutions. “They want a strategic advisor who can speak the language of the business with hard data. But a solid understanding of people dynamics is also key: talent magnets — companies with strong talent management capabilities — increase revenues and profits faster,” he said.

The role of CHROs and their direct reports continues to evolve in terms of complexity and impact,” said Kimberly Shanahan, president and chief executive officer of accelHRate. These leaders, she said, are at the heart of linking business strategy with talent strategy and have an enormous amount of levers to work with these days. Every company today requires solid HR leadership, she said, from the largest multinationals right down to small businesses planning to expand.


Here’s Why Game Changing CHRO Talent Is In Big Demand
Executive recruiters are in hot pursuit of CHROs and other senior level HR leaders across the nation. They are seen as integral strategic advisors to the C-suite and the best ones are now sounding boards for CEOs. Three leading functional search consultants take us inside their work.


CHRO roles are challenging in a way that is vastly differently from even five years ago,” said Shelli Herman, president of executive search firm Shelli Herman and Associates, a specialist in the field. “It’s not enough to just be good at traditional HR functions; you have to be good at the business side of things, too.” That seems to be the single most common denominator that headhunters acknowledge in recruiting for this key functional position.

Ms. Herman said CHRO search work has changed dramatically over the last five years. “CHRO leaders now get involved with every aspect of how an organization functions, often engaging in decisions around business practices that may have little to do with traditional human resources practice areas, but have everything to do with people,” she said. HR leaders, for example, must have insight and expertise around succession planning and talent management planning.

“Today, it is essential that a CHRO understands this work at the most basic and ‘boots on the ground’ level,” she said. That allows the best CHRO talent to take on bigger, broader and more strategic issues like culture shaping and change management, two areas once relegated to a search firm or management consultancy.”

Present-day CHROs are also bringing more skills to the table. “They bring a much stronger and acute business acumen,” said Tom Christopher, co-founder and CEO of The Christopher Group. “For years, CHRO directors have claimed to be business partners. Honestly, I think they’ve struggled in that area. But today we’re seeing a new generation, a new breed of business leaders, who really are business partners first and HR professionals second.”

The CHRO role, itself, has also changed in the last five to 10 years and that is expected to continue, Mr. Christopher said. “It’s clearly going through another evolution,” he said. “Today, there’s a new world order that centers around servant leadership. That is probably best displayed in the evolving role of the CHRO. Servant leadership is the new wave for the vast and most progressive CHRO officers that we work with.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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