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12 October 2012

Leadership Lessons: What the CEO Wants From HR

Posted by Jade Bourelle

Bloomberg Business Week recently published a checklist entitled, “What CEOs expect from their CHROs,” which, coincidentally, was the topic of the panel presentation on HR Leadership I participated in at last week’s HREvolution unconference in Chicago as part of this week's 2012 HR Technology Conference.

HR Leadership is a topic I think about a lot. After all, every day I consult with Fortune 1000 executive teams on talent acquisition strategy and how they can improve their people processes – and in turn, their bottom line.

When I’m speaking with our clients to help craft this strategy, it’s clear that most value talent, and understand, implicitly, that their workforce is an investment, not a cost center, and that their people are more than a line item on a P&L. It’s just that most of these organizations don’t understand the best way to maximize that talent – and generate the greatest return on that investment.

Recruiting makes up the biggest part of the external costs of that investments and consequently, one of the most strategic – an investment where it’s imperative the C-Suite and HR Leadership work together to build an organization that’s a magnet when it comes to the “3 Rs” of talent management: recruiting, referrals and retention.

Here’s my take on some of the boxes on Bloomberg’s checklist (click here to view them all) – and at some of the key themes and trends that emerged during my many discussions with our customers, partners, analysts and talent acquisition executives during the 2012 HR Technology Conference.

Shifting the HR function away from a break/fix model to an embedded business function

For many of the employers we partner with here at Talemetry, there seems to be much more business involvement, and ownership, when it comes to recruiting, than in other HR functions, things like setting policies or performance evaluation processes.

In these companies, the core talent management processes are driven by the HR function, but with talent acquisition, it’s largely driven from the top down in each department. We see a lot more personal involvement from leaders in developing and executing their recruiting strategies as opposed to, say, their performance management strategy. This means that recruiting, largely, has developed a different dynamic with leaders than other HR functions – one that’s driven by partnership instead of process.

Building a pipeline of qualified, energized talent for future growth

For individual sourcers and recruiters, building an effective talent pipeline really has to shift from that transactional, just-in-time focus of getting a job placed to building an engaged, informed talent community of candidates from both inside and outside the organization.

Proactive sourcing has seen a seismic shift from short-term tactic to long term strategy, and building lasting relationships – and referral networks – with your organization’s talent of today that will pay significant dividends tomorrow.

Organizations from the top down need to rethink how they approach their candidates and figure out how to create meaningful and sustainable interactions, which is really the first conversation employers have to have.

It’s really not about changing the tools you’re using – although technology creates the backbone for proactive sourcing and candidate engagement, and candidates a significant data source.

It’s about changing mindsets to focus on the candidate experience instead of recruiting expedience, and getting everyone in the organization from the top down to really buy into that goal.

Building a culture of collaboration for fueling innovation

While there’s no such thing as a universal talent challenge, no universal answer considering that so many talent challenges are industry dependent, but evolving work cultures and the emergence of the social enterprise comes up close to the top of almost every list.

There’s a lot of talk internally about social and collaborative tools and how these technologies infuse a company’s culture, but truth is, this evolution has less to do with things like improved effectiveness, efficiency or ROI, but rather, how people increasingly want to work and relate to one another.

In this age of the virtual workforce, for business and talent leaders alike, the motivation for building a culture of collaboration, a true social enterprise, shouldn’t be quantitative.

It’s not about, “people are going to be 20% more engaged if they’ve got these tools.” It’s about acknowledging that these tools are the way that human beings work now. Company culture has to keep up with the times. Doing so means that deep ramifications, and rewards, for organizations to stay current in how they interact and approach work, and, inexorably, their workforce.

Topics: Talemetry Today, talent management, corporate hr, talent generation, hr technology, recruiting, events. leadership

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