The CHRO of the future needs financial and technical acumen

CEOs want their heads of HR to drive business growth, but they’re not always empowering them to do so.
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· 4 min read

The evolution of a Pokémon is very clear: Charmander evolves into Charmeleon, and if you’re really dedicated, it evolves into Charizard and earns you respect from your fellow trainers.

The evolution of a CHRO isn’t very clear. Despite the changing requirements of the role, a CHRO evolves…into a CHRO, unless they rebrand the title. While it’s a much different job than it was just a few years ago, the person doing it doesn’t always get the respect deserved, or the authority needed to make an impact.

This is the conclusion of Accenture’s recent report, “The CHRO as a growth executive,” which outlines the impact of HR strategy and how companies can help their talent teams drive growth. The research found that while 89% of CEOs think CHROs should play a central role in ensuring long-term profitable growth, just 45% of CEOs are creating the conditions for their CHROs to do so.

HR leaders are increasingly required to connect their talent strategy to the company’s financial performance, while also advancing data literacy and workplace technology, but they need resources and support to meet these challenges.

“All the CEOs and the C-suites that we speak to are under pressure to digitize faster, to put more resilience in the business, and to capture new paths for growth,” Yusuf Tayob, group chief executive of Accenture Operations, told HR Brew. “At the heart of most of these discussions, talent and people come up every single time.”

The challenges. Amid so much change and uncertainty, Tayob said larger companies in particular can struggle to break down the silos between departments that can fracture company culture and prevent fast decision-making.

When refining their growth strategy, businesses don’t often consider talent strategy, said Tayob. “But what we know from the research…is that when we prioritize the well-being of our people,” companies unlock greater potential and productivity, [employees] perform at a higher level, and when all of your people are working to their highest potential across the enterprise, then your organization strives to achieve its highest potential,” he said.

The formula. Tayob said HR should ask managers, “Does working here make employees better off?”

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To answer this question, he said, they must consider their finances, career trajectory, and personal and mental health. Then it’s HR’s job to connect employee satisfaction to retention, engagement, and company performance.

“Creating real-time visibility to how talent in the organization is connected to the growth agenda of the organization can directly impact the P&L,” Tayob said.

This visibility can also help HR gain buy-in from leaders across the organization.

“If I can tie data [from] those that do feel like they’re better off working, to their productivity and their proficiency, and I can correlate that then to business results, you start to make believers out of the rest of the enterprise,” Tayob said.

Some of the positive outcomes for these functions include finding hidden talent, internal mobility, and identification of skills-based needs, he added.

A list of recommended questions for HR from the Accenture report.

Accenture - A list of recommended questions for HR from the Accenture report.

CHRO of the future. Heads of HR cannot rely on CEOs to help them meet these evolving standards. They need to develop a new set of skills as well, Tayob said.

Accenture’s research identified a few emerging areas where top performing HR leaders excel. First is systems thinking, or the “ability to synthesize the internal and external complexities and what the data is telling you,” Tayob said, reiterating the point about breaking down silos.

Second is stronger financial acumen. “If you’re going to prioritize your function to have P&L impacts, then having a higher level of financial acumen is really important,” he noted.

And third is technical ability, or “being inherently technical…and being comfortable leveraging technology to make decisions.”

The end result: “A multifaceted executive, who’s got the business and the financial acumen, who’s got the leadership discipline and DNA to lead through change, and connect what you’re doing from a people perspective directly to the P&L.”

In other words, the Charizard of CHROs.—AK

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected]. For completely confidential conversations, ask Aman for his number on Signal.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.