Gartner research shows 67% of business leaders agree their company must become significantly more digitalized by 2020 to remain competitive. For chief human resources officers (CHROs), that creates a tall order: How to satisfy the digital aspirations of the CEO and the needs of the workforce as operating conditions change — sometimes swiftly and radically.
Most corporate strategists tell us digitalization is going to transform their company’s business model, creating totally new revenue streams in new ways. But progress has been slow in actually executing digital transformation, and the results have often been disappointing.
“ In the digital age, business strategy is your strategy”
The reality is, you can rarely transform the organization by playing it safe with incremental investments. You need to be bold and test entirely new business models, while also finding ways to reduce the risk that comes with that.
As an HR leader, how can you be a value-added partner to your CEO as the organization pursues its digital ambitions in this way? Here are five things you can do today.
Bolster your business knowledge
It’s no longer enough for HR leaders to “understand the business.” Immerse yourself in the competitive landscape. Become more than conversant in the company’s financials. Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes. Confidently present a point of view on key business strategies.
Without this knowledge and positioning, you can’t properly influence, prepare for and lead business change, coalesce employees around the strategic ambitions — or plan the organization’s own talent and employee-engagement strategies. In the digital age, business strategy is your strategy.
Be prepared to challenge your CEO
Contract with your CEO to be their challenger. Ask their permission from the outset to be the advisor who respectfully calls them out when you observe counterproductive behaviors in them, the C-suite or the organization.
This type of relationship is only possible when there is trust between you and your CEO. Building trust can take time. You can accelerate that by finding ways to connect informally in addition to your regular meeting cadence. Follow through; show empathy; be vulnerable and establish credibility. Having trust gives you license to circle back and say, ‘As we all talked about…this is why I’m challenging you on this issue.’