The CHRO's Guide to Success in the Digital Age

Janine Milne

Guest Contributor

The digital transformation has had a massive impact on the role of nearly every employee, and even the CHRO is not immune.

A CHRO at the top of his or her game is a close confidante of the CEO and therefore has to think about many of the same things that a CEO does. To empower her team to make personnel decisions that are in line with the CEO's business strategy, the CHRO must be knowledgeable, confident and well-versed in the technological changes that are driving today's workforce.

Here are the key tech trends that are reshaping the role of a successful HR leader.

The Workforce Is Now Global—Is Your CHRO?

To be successful, CHROs must be fully entrenched in what drives their organization internally, and have an understanding of the company's commercial and competitive pressures. But work today is fast-paced and, thanks to greater digital connectivity, integrated across departments. That's why by the time that CHROs accept their positions, it's important for them to have clocked up experience across all other areas of the business. Some 63 percent of executives in a Visier study said that the best CHROs come from finance, legal or other non-HR backgrounds.

Today's workforce is also dispersed and global, due to the possibility of remote work and collaboration. As a result, international experience is also increasingly important for CHROs, because it gives them a more well-rounded perspective. SpencerStuart research found that 36 percent of today's CHROs have direct international experience, up from 23 percent just three years earlier.

Data Is the Language of the Digital Age

It's hard to over-estimate the importance of being data-savvy. Today's CHRO must not only to be competent at analyzing data, but also a master at knowing what to do with it. They must bring to bear their experience and judgement to interpret the data, and have the confidence to apply that knowledge in a way that can influence future behaviors in their company.

Too often, HR leaders use data to look at past behaviors—that's no longer good enough. What's key now is to develop the technological prowess and the soft skills necessary to use predictive data to hire the best talent and manage existing workers.

Even artificial intelligence technology is only as objective and effective as the people that deploy it—CHROs must know how to interpret and apply the insight in front of them, and anticipate pitfalls. For example, they must be aware of bias in their hiring data to prevent biased practices from influencing their hiring practices.

Digital Disruption Is Creating a Cultural Shift

There are only two speeds in business today: fast and faster. That's why rather than constantly trying to keep up with the fast pace, CHROs need to shift from "managing change to leading it," according to a Gartner article.

Digital transformation is disruptive, and CHROs need to embrace that mindset as well. That means not being afraid to experiment with new tools and technologies, and finding ways to embrace changes to the traditional view of work life, such as more flexibility for remote work.

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast," world renowned consultant Peter Drucker once said. While CHROs alone cannot alone change company culture, they do play a central role in creating and molding a culture in which people perform to the best of their ability, while maintaining a keen eye on strategic objectives.

Getting to a point where HR is positioned to drive change and disruption isn't easy, HR needs to first gain the trust of the rest of the business. But, by making a tangible business impact with the right experience and mindset, they will gradually gain the respect and confidence of other business areas.

Photo: Creative Commons

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