In the three decades of my corporate world experience, HR has always been the fulcrum of change and has eternally questioned its new form of future. Many a times we have been defensive in this function without realising the fact that almost every single organisational transformation begins with the leadership and cascades to the people across. Holding this lever well has been key for big successes and sustainable organisations apply this well to create  enterprises of tomorrow.

The HR function has produced leaders who have mostly been functional lifers. So while most of the baby boomers (more than 90%) hail from the function, I see the trend changing to a healthy mix of people walking into this function laterally to do a role for some time (station) or pursue a career for the rest of their lives (destination). Therefore, we have 3 sets of professionals in this function – Temporary migrants, Full-time migrants and lifers.

This brings me to a question as to how do I see the CHROs of tomorrow. Below are some insights—

  • They are absolutely comfortable with the business right from the beginning. Business growth consumes more than 50% of any management discussion time and the CHRO has to be clear about the sigma deliverable of the entire talent combined. Now this is not goal-setting and/or a performance management discussion, which is more of an execution piece. It is a strategic capability shift that the CHRO needs to deliver to make that vision happen. This entails co-signing with the entire leadership and making it happen.
  • Shaping the profits for the organisation is ‘business as usual’ and the CHRO needs to instil this culture across. It is not a one-time rationalisation effort but is about being fiscally prudent at all times. CFOs will love this partnering from the CHROs, virtually a given that they should stand up all the time to ensure no leakages and hold consistencies across.
  • CHROs will need to be coaches themselves and ensure leadership evolves into a coaching style-people leadership model and not the age-old managerial way of doing things. Self-management is the order of the day and they are expected to play this part really well.
  • Keeping the entire management team together is so fundamental despite the highs and the lows. Collaborative style and driving inspirational leadership is the prime ask of a new age CHRO. This in turn will lead the entire organisation to become high on people leadership skills. The maturity to navigate the enterprise with this collaborative framework will create a long-standing institution.
  • I see driving a culture of innovation across and particularly with the new digital age, CHROs can play a significant role in owning up this part, which normally resides nowhere. This cuts across the organisation and hence, in my view is a terrific opportunity to acquire and drive this across.
  • CHROs need to be more predictive than worrying about cause and effect. It makes a lot of sense to see what some of the likely aspects of people impacts going-forward are rather than going-backward. So there is a lot of forward gear at high speeds on people solutions, which will yield higher than the safety mode that the function is normally used to. So travel the unused path.
  • CHROs will need to face end customers much more than they do now. I see it as a 30% increase in the time  they spend with customers and assuring them of solutions and deliveries on behalf of the company. It adds a lot of credibility in this entire new stakeholder game.

The above are some of the new asks that is facing the function today and I see this as great opportunity to re-position. The pointers discussed in this article are some areas among many others that are indicative of how the CHRO scatter of tomorrow looks like. It may comprise of migrants (short-term and long-term), lifers, purpose specialists, consultants, part timers and some double-hatting based on the purpose.

The question hence should be Is HR a station or destination?

My understanding is that both will co-exist very healthily, renewing the workplace constantly.