“You can’t change the wind, but you can adjust the sails of the boat to arrive where you want.” Confucius
HR leaders: This is a big moment! The decisive climax for the strategic CHRO!
At every global human resource leadership congress in recent years - or even over recent decades - the thematic anchor has been “Strategic HR”, an ode to the times in which the HR would ultimately achieve its deserved role as the organization’s helmsman. Certainly, a pertinent thematic in face of the growing and potential loss of influence of the HR area in the organizational decision-making center, in which finance and operations leaders occupied more and more space with their arguments considered more “pragmatic, concrete” in generating value.
Increasingly shorter cycles of the executive body and increasingly exacerbated focus on return on capital in shorter terms had as a common consequence the deferral of long-term agendas for immediate actions in generating value in the manner required by the globalized capital market. It is obvious that the HR Area has high impact deliveries also in short term, in the heat of the emotions of current times. But its structuring impact on the construction of the foundations of human capital and organizational design are much more to the perpetuity and relevance of organizations.
However, the hijacking of structural agendas by short -erm actions was still accompanied by the increasing complexity of the process in the management of human resources in increasingly uncertain, inhospitable, and unstable environments. Every bureaucratic human resource agenda has been increasingly challenged by new organizational arrangements and more complex relationships with stakeholders in this context of total transparency caused by social networks, anachronistic labor laws and union ostracism.
It is also worth mentioning the emergence of the contemporary "Digital HR" agenda with its myriad possibilities for automating traditional of human resources processes and updated modelling to empower e organizations to deal with this new workforce, and their different necessities, expectations and aspirations. Still in this digital context - out of the ordinary of the innumerable playful, dazzling and often useless tools - the two great phenomena to be managed are the fearsome talent war and the urgent need for reskilling and upskilling the workforce employed in companies.
And here comes the black swan Covid-19 appears! A social hecatomb!
Its impact on the organizational world was immediate: both by the lines of defense and by the attacking forces. On the one hand, the need to protect employees and reduce expenses and investments; on the other hand, the urgency to adjust operational models in times of social distancing. The break with the status quo has not bring advance warning! A sudden nightmare that insists on not leaving us for several weeks, perhaps months on end.
Of course, the pandemic will pass! In life, everything passes! But the impact seems to also have left relevant milestones for society and organizations.
And, in this context of adversity, the moment is especially favorable for the realization of the ambitions of the human resources professional: to become the Strategic CHRO.
At this very moment, shareholders, investors, directors and executives are immersed in multiple context analyses, decoding diffuse signals, acting in multiple dimensions to mitigate impacts on their organizations, engaging with social responsibility agendas. And one of the main themes is, inexorably, PEOPLE.
Therefore, finance and operations leaders make room for human capital leaders, because the more critical theme in this pandemic is precisely the continuity of the businesses made possible by people. The same people who, in addition to the challenges of productivity, adaptability, happiness, capacity and sanity in the world of work, now live with more anxiety and agony, the evils of contemporary times, intensified by social distancing but already largely advanced by the very institutional scourge of the family, church, government and communities. There is no safe haven but oneself.
And among the various possible roles for the Strategic CHRO, I highlight the golden tripod:
1 Be the center of organizational performance management, enabling the the continuity of the business strategy of one side, and ensuring a workforce capable, adaptable, and committed to the purpose, vision and strategic guidelines.
2 To be the coordinating agent of the change management, balancing the natural search for stability and predictability of the internal context with the dynamic external environment around volatility and uncertainty. Such duality is the core of the organizations’ action, increasingly plastic, fluid, and organic. Culture and leadership are the success keys (or failure).
3 To be the political articulator of the power relations in favor of the need of organizational redesigns, construction of new productive ecosystem and generation of shared multistakeholder value. Navigating rough seas is for few.
Strategic CHRO's. “Come, let's go, waiting is not knowing, those who know make things happen rather than waiting until they happen”.
Daniel Augusto Motta, PhD, MSc
Founder & CEO BMI Blue Management Institute