Editor’s note: While Ron Thomas is traveling this week, TLNT is reposting one of his most popular columns from earlier this year.
Like a lot of you, I get requests from executive headhunters looking for C-level HR officers.
As I read through the job descriptions and mentally scan my network, I am noticing a powerful trend. That trend translates to a new level of HR officer.
The days of the “maintainer” are out of the window, especially for this management level. Organizations today are in a state of flux with the VUCA mentality. VUCA, short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, is a catchall for “Hey, it’s crazy out there and its getting crazier.”
We have all probably read about the new HR competencies that will be needed. The phrase “HR Business Partner” is so much prominent today. Human resources is being pushed into uncharted waters, and in a lot of cases, it’s sink or swim.
CEO’s are looking for more than what HR has offered in the past, but there is no need to fret however, because the CFO, CMO, CDO and CIO have all gone through some similar transformation. Organizations are looking for more strategic support from all the C-level occupants
We are the in-house consultants
However, the difference is that our purveyance has to do with the internal talent comprising our workforce. All the others have an external focus to the marketplace
If you covet those roles and you are looking to come in and simply guide and maintain, you need not apply. I have known a number of HR executives that were relieved of their duties when they could not provide that strategic support.
We are gradually being given the keys to the kingdom, but the skill set for this new reality is vastly different from our past.
The new level of HR must understand the industry and the business world as a whole — what is happening, what are the causes, and how can I help my organization buffet the headwinds? This has a lot to do with self-development. It is almost like studying for an exam on a daily basis.
The challenge of changing business models
Part of my education is to watch CNBC or other business channels. I love to see the CEO interviews and how they discuss their companies, industries, and the marketplace. They talk about the challenges that they are facing, and as I do, I super impose the HR angle over their comments and try and figure out what would be the HR response to their issues.
A wile ago I watched the CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler, discuss how HBO’s entire business model had changed. At one time we watched HBO on our home TV, our favorite show came on at a specific hour, and we tried to make sure that we were free around that time to watch.
Fast forward to today; now close to 70% of HBO viewers are now watching on some mobile platform, be it a tablet or smart phone. That was the impetus for HBO GO, which was the organization’s digital response. With this transformation, the talent equation changed to a mobile focus. Outside business trends and stakeholder expectations have turned into internal actions.
The focus now is on business results and human capital improvement. How do we guide our workforce capabilities into uncharted waters? We are now the navigators in the midst of the storm, whether it consists of industry challenges, growth opportunities, global expansion, or something else.
We are being asked to shape the future with our workforce capabilities. No longer can training, staffing, compensation, communications, data be seen as individual components. They must be part of a unified focus bringing all those capabilities to bear on the marketplace, both internally and externally.
The new style of HR
As many organizations seek out this new style of HR executive to help the overall business execute against its future strategy, the onus is on us, as strategically minded executives with a laser focus on HR and the business, to build a high impact HR organization.
This high impact-focused executive understands the critical shifts in roles, skills and capabilities in the HR function. In a nutshell, we must become business people adept at solving “people issues” within the organization.
The bar has been raised, and all the talk of wanting a “seat” at the table has come to fruition. As the saying goes, be careful what you ask for because you may just get it.