People matter. This means the way people are managed, matters too.

MAD-HR takes a look at whether one of your key appointments could be that of a Chief HR Officer.

What if we told you that your thinking about staff resourcing was all topsy turvy?

What if we could make you see that the very role you’ve written off as ‘admin and complaints’, is actually the one that maintains the glue to your company’s culture?

Yes, that’s right – we’re going to argue the case for the Chief HR Officer!

Not all businesses will think themselves in need of such a significant ‘people-focused’ role, but should they?

For far too long, there has been a societal tendency to think of HR as a company function that is merely there to hire Jane, deal with Chris’s complaint, organise holiday leave for the guys in accounts, and make sure Roger’s expenses are in on time.

But that’s embarrassingly far from the truth.

Hiring a Chief HR Officer, and, importantly, seeing the HR function as absolutely imperative to the business’s overall performance, can turn out to be a decision of transformational benefit to so many.

Even where companies appoint a person of seniority in the area of HR, they’ll often have that person reporting into another C-level role.

For example, we’ve plenty of experience of an HR manager reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, or even to the Chief Finance Officer.

But arguably, the Chief HR Officer (or Chief People Officer) warrants their own seat at the table in respect of devising direction, setting strategy, presenting the case for cultural change – and ultimately seeing the company through the lens of the employee.

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What does a CHRO do?

A Chief HR Officer is going to do so much more than gather in your expenses and tell off the apprentice for being 20 minutes late, three days in a row.

Your CHRO will be truly scrutinising the employee culture behind your brand, understanding what’s making people tick in the business, what’s challenging them, what’s causing them conflict – and what’s leading to long term absence issues, retention problems or recruitment struggles.

It’s their extensive experience that makes everyone from the managing director to the operations officer sit up and take notice of issues relating to performance, cultural toxicity and discipline.

They’ll be the ones who will prevent a business from needlessly spending ill-thought-out budget on scatter-gun recruitment, or will write the book on what a truly impressive and long-term workplace culture looks like.

Why does having a CHRO they matter now more than ever?

Tell us a publicly recognised brand or business which hasn’t had the occasional ‘people issue’ in recent years.

At a time of increased spotlight on matters of diversity, equality, mental wellbeing, inclusion and cultural relevance, the pressures on businesses to behave and support in an appropriate manner are as we’ve never known them before.

It’s not good enough for a CEO to say they had no knowledge of a person’s faith or declared gender preference.

It isn’t ok for the COO to assume that an employee working reduced hours is doing so because they are female and therefore have the lion’s share of domestic tasks at home.

The story of the employee’s workplace connectedness is far greater than ever before – and thus the potential for mishandling and miscommunicating is also much higher.

It’s your CHRO who sees all these aspects in sharp clarity, and who helps shape a company’s strategy and culture accordingly.

They bring with them the very best of legal skills, sleuth-like detective qualities, and empathy which makes them among the very best for engaging in impactful communication that lands when it should, how it should.

Going to hire? Here’s what to look for:

If you’re inclined to agree that perhaps a CHRO would be a good option for you and your business, there are several key attributes to consider, before you start pinning their name on the office door.

  • Are they great at people management? Sounds obvious, we know. But this is someone who really needs to truly understand ‘people’. They’ve got to be a democrat one minute, and a disciplinarian the next.
  • Do they understand commerciality like any other C suite professional would be expected to? Are they able to truly comprehend the significance of the strategies they create and the hires they make?
  • Is their experience reflective of what you’ll require in their role? No, they don’t need to hail from exactly the same industry, but you might be keen to know they’ve dealt with many complex people issues and are able to translate such examples into your world.
  • Will they challenge you to stay current and to change if it means an overall improvement to culture? Why on earth would you want to employ someone of this rank and seniority, if you’re frightened that they’ll be a person of opinion and robust challenge for your senior team’s decision-making?
  • Do they deal well with the unpopular, as well as that which is broadly favoured? The key to being a CHRO is to know that being popular is often not assured. You’re there to do a role that some will welcome, but some will resent, feel angry about, or be dismissive of.

Your CHRO must be able to weather all storms.

*Thinking of hiring a CHRO? If you want a CHRO but not full-time or on your headcount, talk to us about an outsourced solution.

Need HR help for an interim phase? Contact our team today.