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Your Chief People Office Deserves a Raise

Your Chief People Office Deserves a Raise


The modern CHRO holds one of the most difficult positions in the C-suite.

You have to possess a deep understanding of the business that’s on par with your executive peers.

You need to be able to influence and guide the CEO as a trusted advisor on all things people.

You must grasp the nuance of your business and strategic plan so that you can align your people strategy for where you are today and where you’re going over the next several years.

All while overseeing the company’s most volatile asset — its people.

Add to this external factors like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and social justice, political and geopolitical change, generational shifts, technological change, and more and it’s a wonder the people in these roles find time for sleep.

The expectations of modern people executives are massive. That’s one of the reasons the tenures are declining and the number of vacancies seems to climb each year.

It’s a hard job. It’s a lonely job. You often deal with some of the most traumatic experiences humans face — death, divorce, disease, loss, dishonesty, and more. You also rarely have internal support networks where you can talk about all of the above.

That pressure can be incredibly isolating. It takes a special skill set and ability to navigate these waters.

Couple the above with the fact that you’re also under tremendous pressure from the business and your C-suite peers to make an impact — quickly.

Michael DeAngelo is the former chief people officer at Mozilla. He’s an experienced people leader, with past HR executive roles with Pinterest, Google, Pepsico, Microsoft, and others. He weighed in on the importance of developing your onboarding plan during a Redefining HR podcast we recorded.

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HR executives arrive with an immediate slate of problems to fix. You’re expected to quickly get up to speed on a range of variables, including culture (strengths and risks), talent, marketing positioning, business model, growth plans, what’s working well, what must be fixed, and a lot more.

If you jump into fix mode before you have a firm grasp of these variables, you can create even more problems. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 70% of new executives cited a poor grasp of how their organization works as a stumbling block for effective onboarding.

Getting aligned with your executive peers is essential to setting yourself up for success. Part of this is managing the expectations of the CEO, as Credit Karma Chief People Officer Colleen McCreary explains:

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The rapport and connection between the CEO and the CPO are key — particularly when it comes to building healthy and scalable cultures.
If you’re ever interviewing for a people executive job and are told you’ll be owning the culture, you should thank them for the clue and run away. Fast. You can’t win there.

If, however, you find a leader who truly values, prioritizes, and resources what it takes to build a healthy culture — that’s a different story. Leaders who can balance and co-prioritize building a healthy business and building a healthy culture are the ones who tend to have the best cultures and most impactful people teams. Asana Head of People Anna Binder explains:

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When culture building is viewed as a shared responsibility across the organization, magic happens. The co-ownership of culture is a core ingredient in high-performing companies and cultures. It permeates through the leadership team into the employees and is reinforced through daily behaviors.

Culture can’t be pushed by individual(s) — it must be a collective set of shared values, expectations, and behaviors.

The business complexity that modern HR leaders must navigate in today’s world is much more robust. Michael DeAngelo considers this here:

As Michael explains, the ability for modern people executives to navigate this complexity is essential to their success. You have to have an eye on what’s now and what’s next to successfully lead your company and your teams through today’s complex world.

You can’t build a leading company today without a progressive people team. Invest in that leader. Give them the resources they need. Let them run - and watch the impact they’ll bring to your business, your people, and your bottom line.