4 Common Practices of Successful CHROs

Community Blog
Written by Amanda Baldwin

MARCH 16, 2023

Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) have more influence than ever before, and leaders across the C-suite recognize them as strategic partners to drive growth for the business. However, recent economic and social climates have left them divided about what’s best for the business versus what the workforce wants.

According to Gartner, “They feel pressure from above and below: they must implement corporate strategy with regard to hybrid work while also providing a sense of purpose, flexibility and career opportunities." This pressure is making it increasingly difficult for CHROs to make impactful change. 

What can CHROs do to address these conflicting pressures and be effective leaders? We asked CHROs across Evanta communities to share their advice for someone just starting out in the role as a CHRO, and we noticed four common practices CHROs from top organizations do differently. These are their responses:

  1. Understand the Business before Developing a People Strategy

High-performing human resources leaders are true business leaders and trusted business partners. This trust can only be built if CHROs take the time to grasp all areas of the business - i.e., the culture, what makes it great, its shortcomings, etc. - so they can drive growth and improve employee engagement across the enterprise.

While the CHRO role is a functional leadership position, it is fundamentally that of a business leader. My advice is to get as much operational experience to build commercial breadth as you can. Partnering with a CEO means you need to hold your own. Stay close to and listen to the best barometers of your business: your frontline colleagues and customers.”

Hayley Tatum, Chief People & Corporate Affairs Officer, ASDA
Co-Chair of the UK & Ireland CHRO Community

Learn about the business and their ‘why’. Dive deep to understand the values of the organization. Culture is not a nice to have, it is a must have.”

Janine Pajot, VP, Human Resources, Bayer Corporation
Governing Body Member of the Toronto CHRO Community

  1. Grow your Relationship with the Board

The board can be a valuable resource for CHROs, helping them understand the business strategy and guiding them with their collective expertise.

Take time to build relationships with the board and with leaders and teams across the organization. It is integral to the company’s strategy and can impact the employee experience.”

Deborah Borg, Chief Human Resources & D&I Officer, International Flavors and Fragrances
Co-Chair of the New York CHRO Community

This position can easily become extremely isolating unless you actively work to not make it one. Learn to take full advantage of your board's knowledge and expertise. I would also advise that your CEO must see you as a truth-teller and trusted advisor.”

Kendall Harrell, Chief People Officer, Caribou Coffee
Governing Body Member of the Minneapolis CHRO Community

  1. Listen to the Workforce

As the talent landscape and world of work have changed, it has never been more important to attract and retain skilled employees. CHROs must give their employees a platform to voice their needs and concerns so they can implement a strategy that will improve employee satisfaction and engagement.

Ensure employees’ voices are heard in the workplace. At Michelin, we lean heavily on our employees to drive the decisions that make the most sense for their business needs. Our employees know the most important problems to solve and questions to answer. We offer the guardrails and support, and they make it happen!  Putting our people first brings innovation in every part of the company. The reward comes from helping and supporting the teams to do their best and be their best. It’s a fantastic feeling to see the team come together to make the impossible happen.”

Felicia Sanders, Chief Human Resources Officer, Michelin
Governing Body Member of the Atlanta CHRO Community

Be ruthless in bringing the values and organizational purpose to life. People want to be inspired and feel confident that the work they do is meaningful and makes a difference.”

Erin Gordon, Vice President HR, Lindt & Sprungli Canada
Governing Body Member of the Toronto CHRO Community

  1. Connect with CHRO Mentors and Peers

As Kendall Harrell mentioned, the CHRO role can be a lonely place, and it’s essential for CHROs to lean on each other - both personally and professionally.

Get a mentor…or two. I have an incredible network of HR peers, previous bosses and women I greatly respect. The journey can be lonely as a senior HR leader and having mentors is very important.”

Kelly Davis, Chief People Officer, Sunwing Travel Group
Governing Body Member of the Toronto CHRO Community

Be inspired and motivated by what you do – we have a long career ahead and having fun whilst doing the day job is so important. Surround yourself with the right people (internally and externally) as part of your own development."

Jabbar Sardar, Global HRD, BBC Studios
Co-Chair of the UK & Ireland CHRO Community

Learn from Your CHRO Peers

The Evanta CHRO Community comes together across the world to discuss how to overcome common obstacles and help one another drive meaningful change at their organizations. Apply to join your local Evanta CHRO Community, and take a look at the calendar to see when your CHRO community is gathering next.

Amanda Baldwin headshot

Amanda Baldwin

Content Marketing Manager at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CHROs, for CHROs

Find your local community and explore the benefits of becoming a member.