Leadership transitions are challenging. Almost half (46 percent) of executives across functions, including HR, underperform while making a leap to a new position. The struggle for CHROs is not due to a lack of skills; rather, it is due to factors ranging from limited support networks to temporary support for the first few months.
According to Gartner research, there are nine important moments that CHROs experience throughout their transition.
1. Set a strategy for your listening tour: Many CHROs begin their tenure with a listening tour, a series of first meetings with key stakeholders. These meetings can be tiring and yield little information without a clear strategy.
Leverage the CEO and HR leadership team’s expertise to identify obvious and less obvious stakeholders to engage. The list should include essential clients and partners who are crucial to corporate goals, end users of talent processes including managers and employees, as well as relevant regulatory and legal bodies, industry associations, and customers.
Focus questions on the most pressing concerns right now and the predicted challenges coming over the next 12 to 36 months, priorities for the CHRO role.
2. Strengthen your working relationship with your CEO: During interviews, most new CHROs discuss talent objectives with the CEO. During the transition, focus on building a good working relationship with the CEO.
To navigate this potentially complex relationship, identify each role’s key responsibilities. In the role of the CEO’s confidant, the focus is on coaching and counselling the executive leadership team and providing informal feedback on the CEO’s performance.
3. Build strong relationships with key board members: According to a Gartner analysis, only 62% of board members believe CHROs have a significant impact on board decisions. Outside of the boardroom, informal interactions and conversations present an opportunity to learn what the board members expect of you.
Before setting up an informal session with the board, be clear on what kind of relationship your CEO wants you to have with the board.
4. Build trust with your HR leadership team: While direct reports provide key insight and support needed for a successful CHRO transition, the broader HR leadership team may be reluctant to help because they feel uncertain or afraid of a negative impact. As an enterprise leader, cultivate and reinforce respect and trust within your team, which includes being transparent and truthful.
5. Align HR leaders to a new HR strategy: New CHROs must gauge team effectiveness and determine how best to align HR staff to their vision and strategy. To evaluate your HR function’s maturity, identify what the team thinks are the function’s critical priorities and ensure consensus and engagement around the vision for the HR function.
6. Connect HR staff to the new vision and strategy: The CHRO can make their HR staff more autonomous by creating a more flexible, employee-focused goal-setting process, based on linking organizational goals to individual HR staff goals. Invite staff to stress-test the assumptions behind the new HR strategy and give them permission to identify where underlying assumptions are flawed.
7. Generate credibility and momentum with a quick win: CHROs who secure a notable win in the first few months of their tenure often outperform their peers. To achieve the most value from a quick win, involve others in the process and focus on high-value opportunities. Don’t be so focused on quick wins that you undermine performance by alienating certain teams.
8. Raise the discussion of talent with the board: A CHRO’s first board presentation is a capstone moment in their transition, as it offers an opportunity to reveal the strategy and cement credibility. Getting this meeting right often leads to the CHRO having more input into business decisions.
To effectively link talent to strategy during your first board presentation, do the following:
- Before the presentation, discuss and decide on strategy and talent goals with the CEO.
- Invest time in exposing top talent to the board and connecting talent to business decisions.
- Explicitly link talent strategy to corporate strategy by focusing information on talent challenges that are mostly related to organisational objectives and results.
9. Navigate the political environment: New CHROs have a unique, yet risky, opportunity to directly confront and address any lurking barriers to performance. Identify difficulties or controversies early on, provide solutions, and make sure they can be implemented fast. Choose which hurdles to draw attention to and when to do so, challenging the status quo on issues most vital to the job.
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