People First, Strategy Follows!

It will be unjust to myself and the rest of the corporate community if I just accepted the article ‘People before Strategy’ by Charan, Barton and Carey published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) as a great solution to one of our top challenge, the human resource (HR) function. Although they have penned it down well, with a great view from the top, unfortunately they forgot to incorporate a social and pragmatic perspective. In my opinion there is no ‘one size fits all’ way in todays dynamic international environment, outlining a ‘unitary’ concept where the CEO goes ahead and redesigns the CHRO a new contract and waits for all else to go south, seems like a rather myopic view.

In many global organisations the CEO is not the sole shaper of strategy, remember there is a Top Management Team and a board that s/he reports to. Yes, they can be influenced to a certain degree, unfortunately they can not be coerced into letting the CEO make all decisions especially solely defining the role for the CHRO.

All praise to your G3 ‘Love Triangle’ between the CEO, CFO and CHRO. From the way I see it, a disruptive force ‘Big Data’ has already over-shadowed the role of the CEOs intuitive decision making authority; drastically altering the role of the CEO himself. My advise is therefore to look into the majority of chief key stake holders rather than just forming a simple triad.

Who assesses the CEOs performance? The companies progress is a huge indicator of the CEOs performance, similarly the people performance reflects the CHROs performance. Here I am not negating the opinion of a 360 degree feedback mechanism, but suggesting the CEO to solely assess performance and plan where the CHRO will be in three years; sounds by far fetching and absurd in many ways. In contrast, my suggestion would be for the CHRO to reflect in and on their own actions.

It seems to me that writers of the particular article in HBR has put the weight of assessing the CHROs performance entirely on the CEOs shoulders. At the dawn of 2017, digital disruption is one of the biggest concerns that have questioned the existence of the CEO himself. Forming a G3 and hoping that it is an only way to link people with financial performance is both myopic and destructive in many ways.

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