The Evolving Roles CPOs, CHROs & CAOs | Top Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners

      The Evolving Roles CPOs, CHROs & CAOs: How They Can Improve the Workplace in 2022

      Written by Thomas Paik, Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion Practice Leader

      How They Can Improve the Workplace in 2022

      Recognizing the importance of human capital, companies are increasingly taking steps to create a better workplace environment for employees. Companies might go for the traditional Human Resource approach, hire a Chief People officer or go for a chief administrative approach to nurture their talent. A discussion on each of these roles, their responsibilities, goals, and skills is necessary to assess where do they fit in managing the ‘people’ at any company.

      Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) is the head of HR, responsible for taking care of every aspect related to the company’s employees. Their responsibilities touch every department of the organization, including a clear articulation of core organizational values to the board. They oversee hiring needs, recruitment strategies, employee training, discipline, and post-employment lifecycle benefits. A CHRO may not necessarily be experienced as head of HR, however, they are often expected to have prior experience in executive HR roles.

      Unlike the role of the CHRO, Chief People Officers have a more targeted area of action. They are called a champion for employees and are focused on creating a positive workplace by managing employment satisfaction. Their duties also include designing strategies to form and maintain an exceptional talent base. As they are concerned with hiring and retaining happy yet talented employees, some might consider CFOs to be playing the most significant HR role.

      While CHROs and CFOs are people-focused, a Chief Administrative Officer has operation-driven roles. A CAO oversees administrative tasks such as designing strategies to create better customer service and organizing inter and intra-department operations.

      Although their responsibilities might overlap, a CHRO, CPO, and COO have distinct roles to play. However, only large organizations can have the luxury to have all of these officers, and small ones might resort to giving all of these duties to one person.

      The Role of the Modern CHRO: Unlocking the Value of Human Capital

      The traditional approach to sidelining HR is a thing of the past. Recruiting and retaining talents is one of the top challenges that companies face today. Recognizing this shift, companies are reanalyzing the function that HR and a CHRO play in managing an organization’s workforce. A CHRO brings valuable focus on the strategic side of HR by aligning it with core business aspirations.

      However, indispensable CHROs are to companies these days, they face multiple challenges, which include compensation mismatch, misalignment with CEOs, and perception issues. Since companies are now beginning to give as much importance to employee satisfaction as they do to customer care, these challenges are increasingly being addressed. Prior experience in HR in at least executive positions is expected from CHROs. Their skills include designing data-oriented strategies and overseeing strategic planning and their impacts.

      CHROs vs. CAOs vs. COOs

      A Chief Administrative Officer’s tasks are operation-oriented, as they alleviate the burden on the CEO by focusing on core business strategies. Their responsibilities include overseeing compliance with rules, supervising operations of various departments, and acting as a go-between the CEO and the senior-level management.

      Consequently, CAOs are expected to be able to:

      • Juggle multiple tasks
      • Be effective communicators with exceptional organizational skills
      • Lead people with professionalism
      • Oversee day-to-day operations
      • Explore new business strategies
      • Report directly to the CEO and help lighten their role
      • Improve efficienty

      In contrast to the CAO, a COO generally engages with such departments as sales and production to work for increased efficiency. To assess which position is the most significant in your company, it is important to review the roles and skills of both the CAO and the COO.

      Top 10 Talent Acquisition Strategies for 2022

      Talent acquisition and retainment are emerging as some of the most important challenges these days. Talent acquisition is founded based on careful planning and involves a long-time vision. To attract top talent, your company must be in an excellent position during hiring time.

      Your number one talent acquisition strategy is developing a clear vision. You should begin with analyzing the existing recruiting strategies and finding areas for improvement. After clear planning, apply data to your efforts. A data-led strategy adds value and accuracy to your approach. It is also good to do competitor research to learn how other companies are hiring quality candidates. 

      Create attractive career pages, job descriptions, and candidate emails to attract the right people. Branding and marketing are found to be impactful in showcasing your company. It is also important to diversify your search by exploring unconventional methods. Technology and automation—such as recruitment software—can speed up the process. Moreover, aligning your talent acquisition strategies with your business goals is crucial to finding the right candidates. Recruitment strategies that are drawn around your business goals help you direct your efforts.

      Creating a top-tier candidate experience will help spread the (good) word about company policies and the work environment. Employ referrals are one of the most prized recruiting strategies. If employees are happy with the work environment, they are likely to refer other candidates. Maintaining a pipeline is another important strategy that can help you create better future leaders.

      Implementing the stated plan can drive your business towards proactive hiring and help in creating an empowering environment for the workforce.

      Why Is Succession Planning Important?

      Smart succession planning will save you from all the unnecessary surprises when an employee unexpectedly leaves. Designing a succession plan is beneficial in numerous ways, and with the right strategy, you can create one easily.

      Dan Lewis, former CEO of Bank of America, and Vikram Pandit, former CEO of Citigroup, left their companies on short notice in 2009 and 2012, respectively. This left thousands of people concerned and created confusion and chaos. A good example of succession planning was set by Anne Mulchy, the former CEO of Xerox, who identified and prepared her successor 10 years before her retirement, thus creating a legacy.

      Instead of relying on a succession plan by HR, focus on leaving a legacy behind. Examine the current bench strength and nominate the successor who is willing to learn all the necessary skills.  Shifting the focus from succession planning to legacy creation will make people feel relevant and important.

      Include your current employees when creating a legacy and pass on the knowledge and experience so that the successor is well-prepared for their new role. Connect legacy creation with the company’s sustainability and goals. Creating a legacy also results in cultivating a connection to the community within the organization.

      When the company doesn’t have to worry about hiring new people, it will reduce costs and increase productivity. Including your employees will make them feel a sense of connection, this will promote a positive, happy environment and increase company longevity and success. 

      When Should Your Company Start Considering Board Recruitment?

      Board recruitment might hint towards the possibility of a loss of control for the founder. However, with proper planning and management, board leadership can be proven to be an asset to any company. If you are considering the merits of recruiting a formal board, then there are some viable practices that you can adopt to recruit an effective board of directors.

      A board of directors is needed in most countries to operate a company. They are not just a formal requirement, but board members also bring valuable insight and niche-specific experience to the company. In situations where businesses face threats or competition, board leadership can bring valuable guidance and help navigate challenges.

      There is a wide range of board types suited to your needs and goals. The fiduciary board functions formally has decision-making powers and can challenge management decisions. This type of board is created to showcase a positive forefront and attract good investors. An advisory board operates in a less formal environment and provides experience and expertise from which the organization can benefit. A board of insiders comprises individuals already known to the company. This type of board can help you test formal board recruitment strategies.

      Recruiting the best possible individuals for your board is the most important rule of effective board recruitment. It is also important to look beyond investors to add diversity of expertise and opinion and to keep it small at the start. Another important rule is to prioritize people that seem promising on accounts of being a great fit for your company.

      To remove doubts about losing control as a founder, be clear about board members’ sphere of control from the very start. Founders can regulate the extent of board involvement by clearly delineating board authority and decision-making power.

      National Human Resources Executive Search Firm | How We Help


      Our hands-on HR executive recruiters have experience working with private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit organizations. Clients are typically $50 million in revenue to Fortune 1000’s or have assets between $500 million to $15 billion. Successful placements span the entire C-Suite – CEO, CHRO, Chief Operating OfficerChief Financial Officer, and include vice presidentgeneral counsel, and other director-level leadership roles.

      Learn how we deliver top talent, no matter the need, with our industry-leading research and resources. Discover the strategy that made Cowen Partners the top retained executive search firm in New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond.

      Get in Touch.

      Fill out the email request form to learn more about our approach.

        [honeypot website]