4 Critical Steps for Success as a New CHRO

Kathy Rapp Assessments, Career Advice, Change Management, Coaching, Communication, Corporate America, Culture, Driving Productivity, Executive Search, Good HR, HR

Starting anything new is a bit daunting. A new exercise program. A new school. Sporting a new hairstyle. The internal questions of “Am I ready for this? Will I make friends? Is the “Rachelreally back?” will bubble in the pit of your stomach.

Starting a new gig, especially a leadership role, builds even more intense emotions. Starting a new CHRO role – well, that’s even a higher level of pressure as YOU are the one who is supposed to have all the answers. YOU orchestrate talent strategy, org design and culture. YOU are expected to “fix things” in HR and beyond.

Whether its your 5th or 1st time in a CHRO seat, there are 4 critical steps for your success.

1.Take Care of Yourself. Often, I see people in this role jump in and immediately start “doing”. The CHRO feels like they’ve got the ability to quickly do an assessment of not only the HR function and people, but also how it fits with the organizational structure. The ol’ been there, done that attitude.

Instead, why not give yourself some love? Bring in an external facilitator to run a new leader assimilation for you, your team and key peers. Have a talent or structure assessment done (ideally in advance of your start date) to give you a road map from an unbiased perspective. Think of the jump start you will get on bonding with key stakeholders, communicating who you are, and knowing where you need to focus attention.

2. Identify the Pain Points. Back to the expectation of a CHRO needing to “fix things”…well, often that’s why you’re in the new gig. And let’s say you’ve invested in yourself with #1, and you have an assessment of your domain – but how does it fit, or not, with the business?

To get to the pain, you’ve got to dig into the business and both external and internal demands that are causing issues. Where is the industry headed? What is the customer experience like? Are there workforce demands that are unmet or is there a need to improve productivity or decrease costs?

3. Determine the Appetite for Change. It’s kinda change management 101, but assumptions can be made without understanding what, when and how much change can be digested by the business. Don’t appoint yourself “Change Agent 007” without doing some research and asking questions that make people uncomfortable. Oh – and know who’s got your back and going to support the change efforts.

An immediate impact can be made if you make the quantitative case for change. The pain points you’ve now articulated should be front and center in your plan. Identify how HR supports the efforts to improve the business and how that support will be measured. If there’s a new direction, underscore the development or retraining that will be required for the change.

4. Develop & Work the Plan. Armed with the above info, a new CHRO can effectively craft the HR strategy, operational goals and metrics. We all know it needs to clearly align with the business strategy – that’s the price of admission. What else is important to your plan’s success?

Ultimately, it comes down to people. You must have garnered the right support across the C-suite, key stakeholders and your HR team. You understand the business challenges and how the right talent strategy will help conquer those challenges. Finally, the plan isn’t filled with fluff or unnecessary programs. It is focused, aligned and creates clear action items for you team, with measurable results.

Will the 1st week be cake now? Nah. But just like exercising, you’ve got to do a bit of warm-up.

Just promise me you won’t show up with Jennifer Aniston’s old hairstyle. The Rachel now has it’s place alongside the Flock of Seagulls.