The Role of CHRO as Ambassador [Session Summary]


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The following article is a short summary of a presentation at The CHRO Virtual Summit by Richard Greene, CHRO at Heidrick & Struggles.

With all the talk of HR’s transformation of late, it’s a little easy to forget that the role of the CHRO is undergoing a transformation of its own. Richard Greene, CHRO of Heidrick & Struggles presented attendees at The CHRO Virtual Summit with an introduction to what he sees as the new emerging role of the CHRO – as an ambassador. Greene stipulates that ambassadors are people who act as representatives or promoters of a specified activity, also they may act as an emissary, an agent, a delegate, an intermediary or a negotiator. He argues that HR professionals have played many of these roles traditionally and that, “all of us in HR play these roles to varying degrees, day in and day out. Many of us are unconsciously competent at being an ambassador”.

So, how can the CHRO become more definite, more strategic, and more proactive in the role as ambassador? Greene describes that the role has begun to properly emerge in recent years, because the CHRO has been given more agency within general business transformations as a leader. This shift has occurred as many organizations look towards HR to help the business become more people-centric, networked, and less bureaucratic. The trend has also been developing due to a counter movement against the (often justified) perception of HR as being complicit in the bad behaviours found in some organizations, as well as exhausting bureaucracy. To assist this transformation, Heidrick & Struggles have implemented framework entitled META. It represents the four key pillars needed for accelerating change; Mobilize, Execute, Transform, and Agility. Within this framework, the CHRO has the ability to both accelerate and decelerate the rate of change depending on how they act. Three of of the most important factors within this framework that enable the CHRO to become an effective ambassador include (but are not limited to); having a detailed knowledge of the business, being seen as positively connected to the CEO, and to be an honest broker, not just a blunt pusher of change.
“Perhaps the single foundation for the entire premise of CHRO as ambassador, is an in-depth and recognized knowledge of the business. Gone are the days CHROs can focus on their own operations, their own systems, and the policies that need to be rolled out to support those.”
But how can CHROs put being an ambassador into action? Greene says there are five key types of relationships associated with effective ambassadorship that must be properly cultivated; candidate relationships, alumni relationships, management relationships, board relationships, and employee relationships. Within each of these, the CHRO must maintain conversations based upon candor, openness and trust, as they all impact internal and external perceptions of the CHRO and the organization. Beyond these relationships, the CHRO has the responsibility to create and lead a number of transformation vehicles that include; demonstrating a unique passion for the company’s values, engaging and coaching leaders, creating cohorts of key managers, addressing at risk managers, and organizing work groups. The key message is quite simple, the CHRO is no longer a passive follower of the business who sits aside change, they are an active pursuant of change, an equal to any member of the C-suite. Becoming an ambassador is helped by frameworks like META, and by having a sympathetic leadership team, however ultimately it’s the responsibility of the CHRO to grasp the importance of their role as an ambassador and work towards realizing its potential to help drive results.

If you missed Richard’s presentation (or indeed any others), you can sign up on The CHRO Virtual Summit website for free and view it until June 30th!

The 3rd HR Congress Brussels, November 27-28 will feature a selection of sessions that will explore this topic and much more! Make sure you follow The HR Congress Blog and #HRCongress18 to stay posted on all the latest news, updates and content from the world of work!

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