Welcome HR to the C-Suite!

What does C-suite mean? How can HR be a part of this C-Suite?

The C-suite, or “Chief” suite, is a team of top executives in the company that has extensive experience in their respective fields, excellent leadership skills and strong management acumen. These executives typically serve as visionaries. Together, the members of the C-suite develop corporate strategies and guide their companies toward high-level goals.

Here are the most common C-level executive positions in both small and large companies:
1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
2. Chief Operating Officer (COO)
3. Chief Financial officer (CFO)
4. Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO)
5. Chief Security Officer (CSO)
6. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
7. Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO)
8. Chief Compliance Officer (CCO)

What will be your role, then, as CHRO and what can you bring to the C-Suite?

Whenever I ask my HR colleagues what their employers and employees’ general impression of HR department is, I get different positive reactions, answers, and titles such as:
• Employee champion
• Change agent
• Business partner
• Welfare Officer
• Counselor
• Housekeeper
• Mediator
• Referee
• Counselor
• Legal consultant

But I also receive some negative comments such as:
• Terminator
• Police patrol
• Verdugo
• Some kind of management’s “tuta”
• Discipline memo factory

Not surprisingly, these negative remarks mean that the role of CHRO is underappreciated or somehow overlooked. It’s high time people understood that the role of CHRO is one of the most strategic positions that can have a major influence in the company.

CHRO is an executive level role that deals with managing human resources. Whereas HR traditionally deals with mostly administrative tasks like sourcing and screening job applicants, new employee orientation, monitoring attendance, preparing 201 Files, processing pay and benefits, and counseling erring employees, the CHRO also deals with organizational development strategies and implementing policies of change to improve the overall efficiency of the company.

Having a CHRO is key to implementing the company’s culture, leveraging relevant technology and providing the proper human capital to hit business targets. The CHRO role is growing as the markets become ever more competitive when it comes to recruiting, hiring, retaining and engaging top talent and high performers.

Some of the major responsibilities of CHRO are the following:

1. Talent Management – Talent is the topmost priority in the C-suite and HR is well positioned to deliver increasingly more value to the business. The company is only as good as the people working in it. No matter how good your product is and how big your sales revenues are, without the more competent and committed employees, you would not be as successful as you aspired to be. The CHRO communicates and works closely with the CEO in identifying what talent is needed and building the quality and depth of your talent through career planning, leadership development, and succession planning.

2. Business Strategy – The CHRO is responsible for helping companies adapt to globalization and technology that causes change in the working environments and affect all types of industries. The CHRO is in charge of managing different types of HR-related software that are meant to be a tool to assist them in Organizational Development.

3. Company Culture – The CHRO plays a vital role in shaping the culture of the company. He/She should have a good grasp of the company’s personality and ensure that employees understand clearly the vision, mission and values of the company. The CHRO must also provide employees with clear guidelines on expected behavior and levels of performance that will serve as a measure for fair and objective disciplinary actions. Having a clearly defined culture can help your company with issues pertaining to:
• Ethics and values
• Customer focus
• Employee engagement
• Innovation

If you want to be a valuable part of C-Suite, I suggest you develop and demonstrate the following essential qualities and skills such as leadership, decision-making, communication, risk management, time management, innovation. Gain more management experience and consider earning an advanced degree or education as you work toward the C-suite role.

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