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Strategy to Help You Select the Best Human Resources Leader 

When searching for the best human resources leaders, like most companies, you probably have an ideal candidate profile in mind. But regardless of unique business needs, most companies have one need in common—they want an extraordinary leader with a strong human resources generalist background who “knows their stuff,” has passion and emotional intelligence, is a business-oriented advisor, and has a high energy level.

While broad-based human resources skills are important, the need for these competencies varies based on the business. More and more organizations are looking to their CHRO or Chief People Officer for strategic talent management, leadership development, employee engagement, and executive compensation expertise.

As a leading executive search firm that has placed hundreds of HR executives into leadership roles, Salveson Stetson Group has gained valuable insights into finding an ideal HR executive. Here’s a list of questions we’ve compiled to help you determine key competencies for your next HR leader.

Define Your Business

First, clearly define how your company functions within your industry sector. Understanding your business allows you to curate a candidate bench of top human resources leaders with the competencies that align with your business needs:

  • Is your company global or domestic?
  • Are your goals growth-oriented, contracting, or holding steady?
  • Is your organization publicly or privately held?
  • Do you have any transformative goals in the short or long term?
  • Are there any talent gaps, upcoming retirements, or other organizational shifts that may impact your talent strategy in the near future?

Outline Current Challenges and Future Goals

Since no two businesses in your industry are the same, your company will have unique challenges. So, you need top human resources leaders with competencies to support those areas. Reflecting on your current needs creates the momentum to pull you where you want the business to go in the future. So, ask yourself:

  • Will the leader need experience in evaluating potential mergers and acquisitions while also being engaged in integrating new businesses?
  • How involved will the HR leader be in increasing the level of engagement with the workforce to ensure the company retains its talent? Who is supporting this now? Is there resistance or lack of support from other executive leadership team members?
  • Will this person inherit a seasoned team, or will they need to develop employees and identify new team members?
  • Will benefits need to be scrutinized to ensure there is a balance between the quality of offerings and cost efficiencies? Should the benefits package be more robust to attract and retain talent?
  • How much building or reshaping of the organizational structure will be needed?
  • Does your organization struggle to attract and retain diverse talent?

Define the Scope of Human Resources Role

As you identify challenges, you may realize that there are current programs and initiatives included in the scope that a traditional human resources executive does not lead, or you may need someone with broader competencies than you initially considered. To define the size of the HR role, decide on the following:

  • Do you need an executive who will be a confidante and advisor to the CEO and senior team?
  • How much time will this individual spend on major succession planning initiatives, including a potential CEO transition in the near future?
  • Will this leader need to make presentations to the Board of Directors on compensation and other critical human capital issues?
  • How much involvement will the human resources executive have with talent management, including attracting, developing, and retaining top talent?

Depending on how you answer these questions, the success profile of your next human resources leader may be different from your last. And while you’ve gained some clarity on your needs, finding executives with the appropriate functional qualifications, interpersonal skills, and leadership style can prove very difficult – especially in today’s competitive talent market.

If you have an existing HR talent bench, that is a great place to start your search. Remember to broaden your traditional parameters and use this competency-based approach to take an honest look at the talent you already have on your team.

But for those who don’t have a deep bench of HR talent, this checklist will arm you with the knowledge you need to create a strong recruitment strategy on your own or with your executive search partner to uncover a human resources leader who is sure to aid in your continued success.

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