Now a days one keeps hearing and reading news of a lot of new appointments, transfers, and other changes in CHROs of large organizations. For example, in one organization a CHRO is shifted from one business to another. In another organization a new CHRO has been recruited from another organization and as he was leaving, he ensured that successor is put in place. However, in the new organization he joined, no such effort was made and in fact everyone may have been taken by surprise that the earlier CHRO left. Whatever may be the reason, CHRO positions have become very dynamic, transferable, and attrition or fast separation-prone.
When you join a new organization as a CHRO, what are some of the things you should do to make a success of your short or long duration stay? Here are some thoughts. Remember to enjoy every moment of your stay and make a great success of it. How to do it?
1. First, spend enough time to understand the business of the company. Read the balance sheet and annual reports for the last 3 to 5 years. Learn about the products, processes, structure, sources of income, sources of finance, turn-over, countries of operation and markets, customers, suppliers etc. Learn all about the business. Meet some key customers and suppliers. If the business is vast identify the critical areas and customers and suppliers. This itself may be an education for you. This in my view is the essential first step before you get sucked into routines and expectations and demands of the top management.
2. Take a tour of the company. Visit all plants or manufacturing units or service units or service points. Understand the organizational structure and key players or strategic leaders or business heads or CXOs and meet each one of them individually and in teams and understand their perspectives and problems. Don't jump to form your plans but first understand them and their needs. Take time from them for a few weeks to start your work and communicate to them that you will formulate and share your plans soon.
3. Understand the current HR systems and processes. See all policies, formats, records and manuals. This may deal with all HR functions starting from manpower planning, to recruitment, and covering induction, placement's, performance management systems, coaching, learning and development, promotion policies, potential appraisal, leadership and succession development, employee engagement surveys, competency models if any available, consultant report of the past five to ten years and so on. Do a personal HR audit. (Read the book on HRD Audit by the author of this paper if necessary).
4. Meet the HR staff individually and in teams to understand their work, professionalism, competency levels, ideas and suggestions. Understand their initiatives and frustrations. Scan through their biographic profiles and background data and make a note of the competencies and interests.
5. Attend departmental meetings of select departments or meet employees in small teams to understand their work, aspirations, frustrations etc. To large extent you may have got insights about them if already some surveys are available.
6. Meet each of the owners or top-level managers or Board members and catch their expectations, thoughts and possibilities. Understand from them what has worked, what attempts have been made by your predecessor, what worked, what did not work, what was appreciated, not appreciated and why? Don't form quick opinions. Use the comments to understand the chemistry. It is worthwhile talking to the past CHROs with the consent of the top management/If sensitivities are involved you could avoid the same. If the previous CHRO left with a lot of positive impact and top management and/or line managers and employees respects him/her, it may be useful to build on strong points and take care of the unfinished agenda or develop your own agenda.
7. After you complete all the above you are now ready to make plan of action. Prepare a HR plan for the next one to three years. Prioritize the same. Put your thoughts on - who will lead what from the HR department itself and from other line managers. Your plan should clearly estimate the activities you are going to be involved and the time you are likely to spend every day, week, or month amounting to around 180 to 200 hours a month or 2000 to 2200 hours year. If your priorities are not put into the plan other people's priorities take charge of your time and life. Don't rock the boat. The first few weeks everyone is watching you but what matters most is an accurate understanding of what the organization needs, where you can take it, who is the most influential leaders or decision makers and actors in the organization and ways of winning their credibility and closeness. You need to influence them with your philosophy and plan of action. Most organizations have well-articulated HR philosophies, plans of action, visions, mission, values etc. Most often they are the same as what most text books talk about as many of them are book-wise but weak in right interpretation and execution. It is now your job to gain your credibility by showing that you mean business and you can make a difference.
8. Share your plan with owners, CEOs, CXOs and Board informally or formally and incorporate their thoughts and suggestions. Make the plan available on the intranet or appropriate places to make other people involved. You must take all your HR team along. The plan should include a development plan for your own HR team. Your plan may also include identifying a few HR champions from among the line employees and opinion leaders, making role for them and taking their help for implementation. The plan may deal with re-launching some HR systems or rejuvenating them or even making small to big changes in recruitment, performance planning, performed development, promotion policies, incentive systems, IR processes, and issues, welfare schemes, productivity and quality or cost saving processes etc. Behind all these must be a very well-articulated HR philosophy which is the back bone of your interventions. Behind all these must be a very well-articulated HR philosophy which is the back bone of your interventions.
9. Have a few in-house mentors or sounding board from the top management team or Board or owners with whom you can keep sharing and having conversations. If necessary, have an outside coach or friend or mentor to help. You can even invite the outside coach or mentor to take stroll into your organization, observe, talk to people and offer you thoughts and suggestions.
10. An ideal way to do most of these effortlessly is by getting an HRD review or HRD audit done by an internal team or even external consultants and develop a plan. All this may take about 10 to 12 weeks, but it is well with doing it so that you make a solid foundation for your success and impact as CHRO.