John Lucas, SVP, Human Resources, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
How would you describe the role of a CHRO today?
Over time, the CHRO function has moved from soft skills to a much more analytical and data driven approach. For those that are comfortable in the numbers there has never been a better time to be a human resources practitioner. The key to success is to align your human capital strategy with the business strategy. Managing human capital effectively will help organizations execute their strategic plans.
The conversation about the CHRO earning a “seat at the table” in the C-suite and boardroom has been ongoing for more than two decades. The CHRO role has definitely evolved for the better. With the right CEO and executive leadership team they will see the connection between the human capital strategy and achieving the business strategy and the intrinsic value that the human resources function brings. But it’s not always about the numbers and strategy, some days I play the role of coach, other days confidant. Some days cheerleader, without ever losing sight of the unique responsibility as the steward of the culture and an advocate of our people.
The CHRO role has definitely evolved for the better
I don’t believe this kind of split would be advantageous to HR as a discipline or to the company. You also sometimes hear about the proposed idea that human resources as we know it should be split into two discrete functions: one for administrative and one for strategy. I personally do not favor a split approach. You can’t effectively separate the design from delivery without losing sight of the total employee value proposition. If I’m the CEO I want to hold one leader accountable.
What is your advice for the upcoming or budding CHROs?
For anyone wanting to begin, or advance their career in human resources, it’s important to use the skills and knowledge that one has developed along the way, even if their past roles have not been solely focused on the human resources discipline, or if they have worked in different industries. If my more than 30 years in the field has taught me anything it is that good HR is largely industry agnostic. The competencies required for success don’t vary significantly based on industry type. At the end of the day, you’ll be measured on your ability to effectively manage your human capital and grow an organization all within the uniqueness of the culture.
One of the challenges for a CHRO today, and really an organization as a whole, is adapting to the needs of a multi-generational workforce.
With multiple generations in today’s workforce, all of which are ‘wired’ a little differently, it’s all about talent, and oftentimes, the war for it. How do I acquire, develop, motivate and most importantly retain it? If I do this better than my competition I drive competitive advantage for my organization.
While human resource is about people, don’t be afraid to embrace data and technology.
Technology is crucial to the evolution of the CHRO role. Be it in the realm of the employee experience, recruiting or retention. For example, I see data as a catalyst for effective workforce planning. With the advent of big data and predictive analytics, you now have the ability to establish a comprehensive workforce plan, which feeds succession planning and the talent acquisition process. This is particularly important for those critical talent segments, which ultimately determine the organization’s success in the marketplace. Measuring your success via dashboards and other analytical tools allows you to see your progress and adjust your strategy along the way.