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CEO’s Letter: Recognizing HR

 

On the night of May 2 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, we are hosting our annual CHRO of the Year Awards dinner. There are four categories of awards. There are two for achievements executed by finalists at their current companies: CHRO of the Year For Profit and CHRO of the Year Not For Profit. The distinction of non-profit and for profit companies recognizes the challenges of working in underfunded not-for-profit organizations or contributing to the financial and corporate success of the for profit world.

The next category is the Sustainable Workforce Award, which recognizes a CHRO who has developed policies that have had a measurable positive impact on the workforce and has created a winning workplace culture. The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a CHRO who has had a measurable impact, fostered innovation, and advanced the practice of HR at multiple companies.

This year, we received 37 nominations, of which 20 were advanced to finalists. The nominations came from some of the largest brands in the world. I was surprised and gratified at the response, but then it hit me. When HR is done managing the recognition program for everyone else, there isn’t much energy left over for recognition of HR leadership. HRO Today is happy to see to it that that is done. In fact, the HRO Today staff only works with advisors on the selection of finalists; the actual voting is done by prior winners so this really is HR leadership recognizing HR leadership in others.

As I think back on the more than 100 nominations we have reviewed over the years, one of the things that is most telling is the changing nature of HR. We see more and more HR leaders that are being forced to do more with less. That is nothing new, but there are clear winners and losers in the pursuit of innovation.

We are actually undertaking a study on innovation with the support of Alexander Mann Solutions. We are not necessarily seeking to define innovation; we hope everyone agrees that it is both technology and practices. Rather, we want to study why it takes hold in some companies and fails in others. We have even coined the term NON-OVATION for the inability to change with the times (cute play on “no applause” as well). But the obstacles such as “hidebound” adherence to prior business methodologies, an inability to get executive sponsorship, or an unwillingness to take risk are all part of the NON-OVATION outcome. If you have a perspective on the opportunities or obstacles that lead to or inhibit innovation, take the survey at http://hrotodayinnovation.questionpro.com. The leaders who earn our CHRO of the Year Awards are all ones who have taken risk (which is even one of the criteria) and who have moved corporate culture to achieve innovation.

As CEOs recognize the importance of workforce engagement and quality, HR is an increasingly important part of strategy. As a result it enjoys more prominence but more responsibility. HR must be able to measure its activities, quantify impacts, and speak in the language of business using numbers and statistics. This has led to non-HR professionals moving into the HR suite and some in the HR suite moving out to other areas. As this facility with metrics has both grown in practice and in necessity, the arc of the HR career has even changed. We are even hosting a panel at the HRO Today Forum (May 2-4 in Chicago) titled “PHR to CEO” where we will feature HR leaders whose role has expanded past the HR suite to discuss the changing careers in HR and what prepares HR leaders for greater responsibility or the ultimate seat of authority and accountability. While we recognize that the world around HR and within HR is changing, it is exciting for HRO Today to pause for just a moment and help to recognize great achievements in HR.

(If you are interested in attending the HRO Today CHRO of the Year Awards Gala or the HRO Today Forum, please visit www.hrotodayforum.com)

Elliot H. Clark, CEO

 

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