How CHROs Can Steer the Ship to Success in 2024

With the end of the year approaching many have their sights on 2024 and for HR leaders that means a wide scope of challenges. A new report from Blue Rock Search’s Ruben Moreno explores emerging HR trends, priorities, and action steps to focus on in the year ahead.

December 1, 2023 – What does it mean to lead with vision? That’s the question on our minds as we head into 2024, and you’ve probably thought about it, too. We talk so much about the importance of outstanding leadership, but we must remember the other piece of that puzzle: getting people ready to take on and succeed in leadership roles, according to Ruben Moreno, HR practice lead for Blue Rock Search. Without a strong strategy for leadership development, how can we expect our leaders to meet today’s challenges?

“Leadership development is more vital than ever with the work environment rapidly evolving. Unsurprisingly, leadership challenges are also sprouting, making investing in internal leadership development especially significant,” Mr. Moreno said in a recent report. “This investment in people ensures leaders effectively guide their teams to success and allows employees to visualize a long-term future at their organizations. Leading with vision heightens worker satisfaction, increases productivity, and promotes employee retention; it simply translates to being the type of leader who leads an organization to its next horizon.”

Current Leadership Challenges

Today’s changing workplace needs often leave leaders insufficiently trained or poorly supported to adequately meet demands. According to research from Gartner, a significant majority – 75 percent – of HR leaders say the managers on their teams today are overwhelmed by the recent shift and expansion of their job responsibilities. Similarly, 73 percent of those leaders also admit that those they manage (and other leaders) aren’t properly equipped to steer necessary change.

“What is even more daunting, however, is that the traditional ways of addressing these gaps may no longer be enough,” Mr. Moreno said. “The typical approach is to implement skills training, but the challenges faced by today’s leaders go well beyond the deficiencies a skills seminar will address.” Gartner’s research highlights some sobering statistics about the current landscape:

• An average manager has 51 percent more responsibilities than they can effectively manage.

• One in five managers would prefer not to be people managers at all.

• Only half of employees say their managers treat them empathetically and fairly.

• 59 percent of managers say they spend significant time on ‘work to do work’ or handling the processes surrounding a job rather than the job itself.

“In today’s workplace, leaders and their managers often find themselves struggling to strike a balance between incorporating emerging technologies and maintaining, or even improving, human connections,” Mr. Moreno said. “The emergence of artificial intelligence and hybrid work makes tech-savviness an essential leadership trait. It also increases the significance of balancing these tech skills against the need for the high emotional intelligence required to engage the human aspect of a thriving workplace culture.”

Ruben Moreno leads the Blue Rock HR executive search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of chief HR officers and their teams. As a subject matter expert and specialized executive recruiter, he has been dedicated to partnering with his clients to identify, assess, and recruit the best human resources leadership talent available for over 12 years.

According to a survey of 1,300 L&D leaders from Harvard Business Publishing:

• 46 percent anticipate a greater need to adapt to the penetration of emerging technologies, like generative AI.

• 48 percent say there will be a greater need to ensure productivity and business growth amid the growing adoption of gig, hybrid, and dynamic work models.

• 31 percent say that building a diverse/inclusive culture remains a top challenge, and 30 percent say the same about driving employee motivation/inspiration.

“These statistics clearly highlight the shifting sand under leaders’ feet and that the leadership methods that have sustained organizations in the past simply won’t bolster future success,” said Mr. Moreno. “Modern leadership must evolve, implying significant flexibility and willingness to relearn and reconsider what leadership looks like. CHROs and other top HR leaders must look at ways to set examples across an organization and determine what they and their teams truly need most.”

Evolving Leadership Itself

These challenges are fundamental, and the way to address them must be visionary, according to Mr. Moreno. “CHROs and other HR leaders can guide managers to greater success by evolving the very idea of management itself rather than investing more time and money into skills-based development tactics,” he said. “Managers are more likely to thrive when they feel empowered and clear about their expectations.”

Related: How to Become a Successful CHRO

Gartner found that managers are 1.4 times more likely to find their jobs navigable when their organizations focus on resetting role expectations to focus on what managers are best positioned to do. Managers are also more successful when leaders allow them to simplify and streamline managerial tasks with a laser focus. Giving managers, or prospective managers, more latitude to discover their fit for leadership roles makes it 2.3 times more likely that they’ll find their jobs manageable, and organizations that focus on positive habit-building practices improve job manageability by 71 percent.

What does all this have in common? “It’s geared at taking a new view of HR professionals as true strategy drivers rather than support staff,” Mr. Moreno. “Human resources is a robust profession with evidence-based and data-centric practices integral to achieving organizational goals. As HR is taken out of its silo and more thoroughly integrated into the business area, it requires leaders who model and emphasize traits like agility and flexibility. Today’s HR function must be responsive to change. The engine drives transformation for the most essential component of any organization: its people.”

7 Qualities and Experiences Needed to be a CHRO
The most common questions that come from executives who aspire to move into their first chief human resources officer (CHRO) role involve what it takes to be a strong and viable candidate. IIC Partners’ people and culture practice group, with consultants collaborating across 40 offices worldwide and, has had the opportunity to interact with many HR executives.

Sally W. Stetson, co-founder and managing partner of Salveson Stetson Group (IIC Partners – Philadelphia), and Charlene Bergman, managing director and partner of B. Riley Farber (IIC Partners – Toronto), recently authored a report on the top seven critical qualities and experiences needed for success in your first CHRO role. “Every company has different perspectives and needs based on their business,” the IIC report said. “However, there are some critical competencies you must possess to be seriously considered for the top HR role at any organization.”

Top leaders must work together to determine their strategic vision. Who comprises the HR role? What is its purpose? How does it deliver value? How does it contribute to success? Mr. Moreno explains that these questions all tie back to one core thing: a sense of purpose. “Developing tomorrow’s leaders requires today’s leaders to be purpose-driven—they must build a culture suffused with an all-powerful sense of purpose,” he said.

Mr. Moreno notes that this can feel like a tall order for CHROs and other top leaders, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. “HR professionals are already flexible, thoughtful, and driven individuals well-equipped to manage and propel the evolving changes required for organizational success,” he said. These goals are within reach – a meaningful evolution rather than a patchwork of skills training, the development of a flexible talent pipeline to meet future needs, and an approach to technology that keeps the ‘human’ in human resources. With this forward-looking approach, leaders can be more confident than ever that the future of our nation’s organizations is in safe hands.”

Blue Rock Search is a 100 percent minority/female-owned executive search firm. As a member of the SRA Network, the firm is also a Hunt Scanlon HR/Diversity Recruiting Power 65 recruiter. The firm’s consultants specialize in the targeted identification, assessment, and placement of executives across four distinct practice areas: human resources, franchising, customer experience, and operational excellence. Blue Rock’s processes, technology, tools, and search methodology are designed to flex to the needs of its clients.

Related: What CHROs Need to Know About DEI Moving Forward

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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