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Workplace Expert Offers Eight Tips for Replacing Baby Boomers

The mass workplace exodus of baby boomers is underway and shifting demographics are weighing heavily on executive recruiters and talent acquisition leaders. We explore their concerns and offer fresh thinking on ways to forge ahead.

March 19, 2017 – The mass migration of baby boomers from the workplace is beginning. While their full departure will take years to set in, the transition is unquestionably underway and it is creating a significant puzzle for every company and those in charge of staffing them to solve.  “The dilemma is twofold,” said Paul Croteau, managing partner of talent management solutions provider Legacy Bowes Group, who shared his latest thinking on the shifting demographics predicament by outlining eight strategies to stay ahead of the problem.  “First, it is well known that the incoming new generation of leaders, (typically in the ages of 35 to 49), do not have the skills or experience of more senior leaders,” said Mr. Croteau. While this to be expected, recent research conducted by i4cp, a Florida-based research firm, identified that younger generation leaders were lacking skills in five critical leadership areas. These included critical thinking, the ability to create a vision and engage others, the ability to collaborate with other areas of a business and manage change, overall leadership and understanding how different business sectors needed to work together.

“Second, my own professional experience suggests that younger leaders have higher expectations with respect to salary and compensation,” Mr. Croteau said. “They are also more demanding with respect to perks and other benefits such as vacation, vehicles, flexibility and executive education. As well, many young people are impatient, relying too much on their graduate education instead of being willing to engage in a longer apprenticeship type of career model.”  In other words, the latest generation of leaders ‘coming of age’ want to leapfrog up the career ladder and if opportunities are not found in their current employment, they won’t think twice about moving to another company.

Millennials Still In Their Formative Years

The vast majority of Millennials see ongoing skills development as an important part of their future careers – and in that respect, they are light years ahead of previous generations who stepped onto the corporate treadmill for a long, arduous and, frankly, unpleasant jog to the future. Millennials, thank heavens, are different. They see personal development as so important that many say they would pay for it personally and give up their own time to expand themselves by establishing new skills baselines. And, they come hard-wired with innate intellectual curiosity, which allows them to learn in real-time at a faster rate. Contrary to the lazy label, the data pouring in about Millennials actually tells a different story. They work as hard, if not harder, than other generations. But happiness and self-fulfillment – that’s really what matters to them …Here’s some further reading from Hunt Scanlon Media.

Millennials Choose Career Over ‘Being Boss’

Instead of climbing corporate ladders, Millennials are focused on learning technical and personal skills to ensure long-term career security as they seek to build a ‘career for me.’ Millennials learn quickly and seek out intellectual stimulation. As a result, they view their work roles as steppingstones on a continuous learning path.

So, where does this situation leave current business leaders, especially since it’s well known that a large percentage of the companies they oversee have no succession planning strategies in place? And what solutions would help to rectify this situation? Mr. Croteau believes that working with an external expert and undertaking the following strategies could provide significant benefit to any organization.

Eight Recommendations

Here are his eight recommendations for replacing retiring baby boomers in a thoughtful manner and a possible approach to succession planning as seen through the lens of two top executive search professionals:

1) Demographic survey – conduct a survey of all your employees with respect to their age demographics as well as the skills required for each job.

2) Map your situation – develop a risk management chart for each and every job in your organization and identify at least two individuals who could move into each job along with their potential timeframe. Confirm gaps and risks.

3) Identify training needs – prioritize those jobs which are crucial to the ongoing success of your organization, identify the competencies and training required for a successor and create a career development plan.

4) Identify potential internal talent – while good job performance may be evident, undertake a series of psychometric assessments to identify individuals who have the skills in the five critical areas mentioned above. Being a strategic and visionary thinker is a unique skill and if you don’t have this skill within your organization, you will have to bring in an external candidate.

5) Map candidate pool – once you have completed your assessments, create a map of your talent pool. This will enable you to determine short and long term gaps and create a development plan for each individual. Invest in your people.

6) Link competencies to strategic business plan – after the competencies have been developed for each job role, compare and contrast them to each of the strategic business goals. Determine which of the competencies will be the drivers to move you forward and then assess your strengths and weaknesses for each.

7) Confirm organizational values – while the younger generation might want higher compensation, most in my experience seek better life/work balance than their parents. Take time to examine your organizational values and workplace philosophy. Determine what would attract new employees, what would set you aside from your competitors and utilize these elements in your recruitment strategies.

8) Develop a recruitment strategy – finding the right candidate with the right skills at the right time and getting the cultural fit just right is not as easy as it looks. Most high caliber candidates are happy in their current work and are not on the job hunt. They need to be tapped on the shoulder and invited to look at your opportunity. Many times this must be done on a highly confidential basis.

An HR Recruiter’s Perspective

Donna Friedman, Chairperson and CEO of Tower Consultants, which specializes in human resources recruitment, said that the resultant dilemma when an entire generation heads for the exit signs is succession planning and it is something that is currently posing huge challenges for corporations. Not only are the baby boomers leaving the workforce in exceptionally large numbers but oftentimes executives in this demographic group are departing at the same time, often around bonus season.

“Companies are trying to deal with the problem on multiple levels,” said Ms. Friedman. “For one, the total rewards people, where I specialize, are working to design strategies and incentives to encourage the near-retirees to stay longer, giving them retention bonuses. They are also rewriting job descriptions to allow for part-time jobs so that the senior people could be there to help recruit, mentor and train the incoming generation of worker bees. But finding new people is a huge challenge as well.” She’s right, study after study has explored the rising talent gap, and Ms. Friedman said she sees no closure in the people supply and demand curve anytime soon.

As an HR specialist search firm, Tower Consultants is frequently asked to bring in heads of talent management to help client companies deal with the need for proper succession planning, and not only in the C-suite. That work starts, of course, with analysis, through climate and engagement surveys, as to how much at risk the company might be of losing employees, at what levels and within which functions, and what it can do to mitigate that risk by providing a better work environment to get them to stick around longer.

Indeed, younger employees today can be a challenge to keep. “Organizations are struggling to maintain their high potential talent,” said Ms. Friedman. “Young people can be very impatient, and some, though not all, are looking to make a lot of money quickly and ascend the career ladder. And if they don’t move quickly they’re very much at risk of headhunters coming along and snatching them up to go to another opportunity.”

Many of the younger generation, of course, have  seen their parents ushered out of jobs before they were ready, and as a result Millennials now oftentimes put themselves before their company. “There is no loyalty anymore,” said Ms. Friedman. “Young people are taking care of themselves. They want to make money quickly and they are going after the best opportunity. They’re not ready to wait around. It’s a new generation.”

Indeed, the latest reports on Millennials suggest this generation might be more impulsive. But they also work well with baby boomers, and companies that can bring the two generational groups together usually benefit vastly more than those that ignore this new age workforce combination.

Another Recruiter’s Perspective

Nancy Green, vice president of the Washington, D.C., office of Vetted Solutions, which focuses on the non-profit and association search market, said that the central tenet of succession planning is to avoid disruption as much as possible, especially in the C-suite. “Really, at the end of the day when you’re thinking about succession planning you’re thinking about keeping continuity in place, and keeping the confidence of the board and the leadership and the stakeholders,” she said.

Succession planning should take into consideration more than the measurable ingredients of a successful company. A retiring CEO, for example, should have insights into cultural matters that would be helpful to pass down to his or her successor. Some examples: “What is the philosophy that that person has in working with the board?’ said Ms. Green. “How would you characterize the staff and board partnership? How are partnerships formed? What does that look like?”

Another piece to consider is managing communication and the messages that will go along with a CEO’s departure and the arrival of his or her successor. “As soon as that CEO is thinking about leaving, and this is going to become public information, who needs to know first?” she asked. “How do you think about how you tell the staff and manage that communication? If it is an association or non-profit, how do you tell the members of the organization? And then, obviously, there’s telling the key leaders.”

Paying attention to communicating about impending change instills confidence, as opposed to uncertainty. “It’s a sense of, ‘Hey we’ve got this; this is something we are planning ahead for; we have a strong strategic plan in place; we have a succession plan in place.’” Ms. Green said. “If it’s a retirement or a very positive transition you can talk about that and get out in front of it.”

Ms. Green cited a number of factors that are vital to a good succession plan. “One of the most critical pieces that needs to be in place is a good strategic plan, that road map for the future, that clear outline of the metrics that go toward what success looks like. That’s No. 1, because if the board and the staff are on the same page about the direction, it does help guide the other pieces pretty effectively.”

No. 2, she said, is having a clear understanding of how the future CEO will be put in place. “What is the search committee going to look like?” Ms. Green pondered. “Who needs to be involved? What are the voices that need to be included in that conversation? And how will the conversation about input take place?”

Why is it important to have a succession plan, and what can happen to a company if it fails to have one? Uncertainty and possible instability is one answer. “At the very least, said Ms. Green, if you’re not prepared it creates an uneasiness and unpredictability that could cause anxiety and disruption.” Enough, she added, to prevent the continuity of the work from happening. “Fear of the unknown, of who is coming in and what might change, can cause people to leave their jobs.” The better approach, she said, is to manage expectations in order to keep baby boomers, any everyone else for that matter, in place for as long as possible.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor — Hunt Scanlon Media

This Feeder Function Puts HR Leaders On Fast Track to CHRO

The road to CHRO is often times fraught with misleading signs and career obstructions. This search firm has found a clear path forward.

November 22, 2016 - In building Tower Consultants, Ltd. into a leading executive search boutique dedicated to human resources with an emphasis in the total rewards sector, Donna Friedman and Chris Rose never deviated from an original blueprint first laid out in 1988. As their specialized recruitment brand expanded, they both have remained true to its roots.

Today, a significant portion of Tower Consultants’ business results from clients in talent management, organizational development, compensation & benefits, executive development and labor & employee relations. Along the way, a niche has developed: moving human capital managers from total rewards – including executive and incentive compensation specialists, benefits leaders, training managers, communications & HRIS experts and talent acquisition professionals – into higher ranking HR leadership roles. In effect, Tower Consultants identified a breeding ground for chief human resource executives (CHROs), making total rewards a choice pipeline to the top HR post.

Working In Reverse

“We are all about personal relationships,” said Tower Consultants founding CEO Ms. Friedman, who moved the firm’s home base from Philadelphia to Stuart, FL. “The big firms all work from the top down. Their relationships tend to be focused at the board and CEO level.  For us, our relationships start at the manager level and we work our way up the staffing pyramid to the CHRO level. We work almost in reverse,” she said. That business model now separates the firm from most competitors, said Ms. Rose, Towers’ president.

PepsiCo was one of the firm’s first clients. “It was early days for us, but that relationship got us off the ground,” said Ms. Friedman. Then, Tower Consultants expanded its client roster to include several Pepsi divisions, including Frito-Lay – along with Pizza Hut and KFC, and Taco Bell now owned by Yum! Brands – in addition to H&R Block, Mercer, Frederick W. Cook & Co., Ashland, Yale University, University of Miami, JCPenney, DineEquity, Bloomin’ Brands, CVS Health, Tiffany & Co., Walmart Stores, Amtrak, Darden Restaurants, and Las Vegas Sands, as examples.

The firm prides itself on having placed a number of compensation and employee benefits leaders who have advanced to CHRO, or to other C-suite HR leadership roles. And that expertise is now leading clients to call on the firm to help them find the top HR leaders themselves.

Ms. Rose just a few weeks ago was retained by FARO Technologies to find the imaging device and software company a chief people officer, overseeing a technical / engineering workforce of 1,500 employees. The incoming head of people will lead the company’s global human resources function, support achievement of its business strategy and objectives, and lead talent efforts across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC.

The chief people officer (CPO) position is a relatively new title within the HR function and many companies are creating this role instead of a chief human resources officer (CHRO) position, said Ms. Rose. It first appeared about a decade ago. Now, as companies look to build internal brand awareness and focus more on establishing and driving their own unique cultures, CPOs are coming more into vogue.

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Why Total Rewards Experience Matters

But it is several recent CHRO placements who had their start by first gaining experience in total rewards – and who were helped into those early roles by Ms. Friedman and her partner – that seem to resonate, notably among the HR leaders who’ve catapulted themselves into these leadership positions.

“The exposure to executive compensation matters, especially as it relates to corporate board and governance topics,” said Danielle Kirgan, a former Tower Consultants placement who previously worked in total rewards. Ms. Kirgan was recently named senior vice president – people at American Airlines, where she is responsible for leading global human resource functions. “That was critical experience that made my move to CHRO possible,” she noted. “In total rewards, you have a front row seat to appreciate all the nuances and details that go into CHRO roles.”

The recent promotion of another former Tower Consultants placement, Amy Lee, from executive director of total rewards at the Las Vegas Sands to the hotel’s new SVP of global human resources showcases the value of total rewards that allowed Ms. Lee to gain useful experience within the hospitality sector before ascending to more expansive HR functions. Las Vegas Sands is a global developer of distinctive properties featuring premium accommodations and world-class gaming and entertainment amenities.

Tower Consultants initially placed Ms. Lee at the Las Vegas Sands in 2013 after determining that her financial background and global compensation & benefits experience mirrored the needs of the Fortune 500 company. “When we were retained to do the total rewards search, we knew, as is often the case, that we were looking for the possible successor to the then SVP of HR,” said Ms. Friedman, who added that Ms. Lee’s “high IQ and EQ and collaborative skills” were a major plus in her favor. “As a woman — of course, I’m not prejudiced — but I do believe females in general have higher emotional IQs with a stronger intuitive sense, ability to listen and to pick-up on non-verbal cues,” she added. Among her notable placements, Ms. Friedman recruited Kathleen Weslock into the CHRO role at Frontier Communications as the company was driving toward Fortune 250 status.  

As to why Ms. Lee was deemed a strong candidate in her previous role in total rewards, Ms. Friedman replied: “Amy came to the U.S. earlier from China in pursuit of her MBA and had remained in California. With the Las Vegas Sands having major properties in Asia, being fluent in Mandarin didn’t hurt.” In Ms. Lee’s eyes, spending over a decade in total rewards was necessary preparation for her latest career move.

“It’s easy to go from total rewards to the head of HR. It gives you a better sense of business compared to other HR fields,” she said. But, she added, “having a thorough understanding of comp and benefits and working in tandem and interacting with different business partners to create programs benefiting the company was also important.”

Getting the Right Exposure

Upon gaining experience in total rewards, Ms. Lee sought a transition back to HR. “I was in total rewards in HR the last 15 years and I decided to go back to the finance background I came from,” she said. “For this latest opportunity in the company, they came to me.” Since the Las Vegas Sands was already familiar with Ms. Lee’s background in total rewards and impressed by the quality of her work, it was a smooth transition for her to fill the role of SVP of global human resources.

“The hospitality sector has been in a period of consolidation with multiple mergers, acquisitions and industry changes continuing,” said Ms. Friedman. “The tourism industry is highly dynamic and has continuously expanded with growth second only to healthcare.”

For HR professionals, said Ms. Friedman, “hospitality offers the opportunity to work in beautiful locations around the world with a diverse employee and job function base.” But more to the point in Ms. Lee’s case, it was her financial and business acumen coupled with global compensation & benefits expertise, that included an executive compensation focus within publicly traded worldwide companies, that aligned well with the needs of the enterprise.

Total rewards requires a comprehensive understanding in specialized areas such as compensation and executive compensation & benefits, which emphasize the need for strong interpersonal and communication skills that are used in establishing and attaining company goals, as well as problem solving.

In 2010, Tower Consultants placed Ms. Kirgan as SVP – total rewards & HR shared services at Darden Restaurants. Five years later, Ms. Kirgan was promoted to chief human resources officer at Darden before her recent promotion to American Airlines, where she oversees training and talent development, compensation, benefits and diversity.

Ms. Kirgan said total rewards prepared her for her new role. “The exposure to the board of directors, the mechanics of the core work related to the peer group, proxy disclosures and discussions about the business plans and incentives,” said Ms. Kirgan, “these were all areas that would otherwise have been less natural to have been seen and experienced in any other non-CHRO role.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief and John Harris, Managing Editor — Hunt Scanlon Media

Tower Consultants Leading Chief People Officer Search for FARO Technologies

November 3, 2016 - Executive search firm Tower Consultants, Ltd. has been retained by FARO Technologies to lead its search for a chief people officer (CPO). Tower Consultants president, Chris Rose, is leading the assignment.

According to Ms. Rose, FARO Technologies is seeking a candidate with international agility to partner with a technical / engineering workforce of 1,500 employees.

“The newcomer will create and build a full range of HR initiatives, harmonizing programs across the Americas, EMEA and APAC,” said Ms. Rose. “Notably, Faro seeks a dynamic change agent that is disruptive with a healthy disrespect for boundaries and the status quo.” The entrepreneurial environment at FARO, she suggested, “embraces employees who are goal oriented and expected to ‘play to win’ externally in the marketplace, while also thriving in a dynamic environment of team spirited, smart, data-driven individuals.”

A Champion of HR

The incoming head of people will lead the company’s global human resources function, support achievement of its business strategy and objectives, and lead talent efforts across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC. Importantly, the executive will serve as a key advisor and business partner to define strategic initiatives, including the organization design and succession planning required to assist FARO in moving forward with wide-scale change and planned growth.

It is imperative that the CPO elevate and champion the function, said Ms. Rose, “and unleash the organization’s energy and leverage its worldwide human resources function as a source of competitive advantage.” The CPO will also be challenged to marry business strategy with HR strategy and ensure that careers are developed for both profitability and employability.

The Right Fit

The winning candidate will possess an ability to work with a highly technical and global workforce as well as experience in total rewards, executive compensation, talent acquisition design and implementation. The ideal candidate must have an entrepreneurial bent, a drive and passion for technology, solutions, and results, and a willingness to think independently, according to the company.

FARO Technologies is a source for 3D measurement, imaging and realization technology. The company develops and markets computer-aided measurement and imaging devices and software.

Established in 1988, Tower Consultants operates primarily in executive search exclusively for identifying senior level human resource professionals and consultants. These include senior level corporate and field generalists; executive, sales and incentive compensation specialists; employee benefits leaders; organizational effectiveness and talent management leaders; training managers; talent acquisition professionals; and service delivery, payroll and HRIS leaders.

CPO’s Coming Into Vogue

The chief people officer (CPO) position is a relatively new title within the HR function which many companies are using instead of a chief human resources officer (CHRO). It first appeared about a decade ago. Now, as companies look to build internal brand awareness and focus more on establishing and driving their own unique cultures, CPOs are coming more into vogue.

Scott Weisberg, chief people officer at Wendy’s, the $10 billion global fast food chain, said that talent acquisition strategies at many large companies are now as complex as their balance sheets. And while chief human resource officers (CHRO) play a vital role in overseeing an organization’s broad-based workforce, “it is the chief people officer who typically goes beyond overseeing its people policies.”

Women Rise to Dominate CHRO Roles, but Falter on Path to CEO

Published on October 24, 2016

Featured in: Human Resources, Professional Women

Scott A. Scanlon, Chairman/CEO Hunt Scanlon Media

Women Now Comprise a Quarter of the C-Suite. According to Just-Released Analytics From Korn Ferry, Most Get There By Holding CHRO Positions. Industry Experts Weigh In On Why This Is Happening and How More Women Can Gain Access

Even though an analysis of the top 1,000 U.S. companies by Korn Ferry finds the percentage of women in most C-suite positions is dramatically lower than their male counterparts, the chief human resources officer (CHRO) position is the only C-suite role where there is gender parity. A full 55 percent of CHROs across industries are women, according to the company’s latest findings.

“In our research, we find that women rank higher on key competencies needed in the CHRO role such as collaboration and negotiation skills, the ability to balance multiple constituencies and an appreciation for the dynamics of the overall business," said Joseph McCabe, vice chairman in Korn Ferry’s global human resources center of expertise.

Interestingly, other Korn Ferry research shows a distinct correlation between CEO and CHRO competencies. But according to Mr. McCabe, “women are still not making it to the very top spot at the rate they should.”

“The gender of the CHRO is often a product of the CEO’s preferences when selecting their key confidant and strategic talent partner,” said Jason Hanold, CEO of Hanold Associates. “Typically, male CEOs prefer the approach and capabilities that a talented female brings to the HR leadership role. Since most CEOs today are male, that preference likely helps drive the preponderance of females occupying the senior-most HR leadership role in most companies.”

Pivoting on Diversity

According to Mr. Hanold, the ratio is higher in the industries where there tend to be more males within the executive committee composition (financial services, technology, energy and industrials), whereas there is more balance in the consumer and life sciences sectors, where there tends to be more female senior level executives to begin with.

“Another contriving force is that the natural discussions about talent and HR tend to pivot on diversity, which elevates awareness, which drives outcomes in hiring,” said Mr. Hanold. Among the women Hanold Associates has recently recruited into the CHRO position nationally: Barbara Bolender into the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA); Sharon Quiles to Riddell; and Lisa Jacoba into CPI Card Group.

“Indeed, in our search practice, we see more women being both requested and selected for CHRO roles,” said Donna Friedman, CEO of executive search firm Tower Consultants. “I believe it’s because females provide a great counter-balance to all the testosterone in the boardroom and in the C-suite.” As a result, Ms. Friedman said she sees companies increasingly seeking more diversity.

“As a woman — of course I’m not prejudiced — but I do believe females in general have higher emotional IQs with a stronger intuitive sense, ability to listen and to pick-up on non-verbal cues,” Ms. Friedman added. “So much of HR involves having empathy and engaging in difficult and highly confidential discussions and I believe females are more trusting of other women and men are often more willing to share personal concerns with a maternal figure than with a male who they may perceive as more competitive or threatening.” Among her notable placements, Ms. Friedman recruited Kathleen Weslock into the CHRO role at Frontier Communications as the company was driving toward Fortune 250 status.

The thinking that women have developed with more multi-tasking, project organization skills and attention to detail may also come into play given the barrage and array of problems that are presented to HR on a daily basis, said Ms. Friedman. “Further, as corporations have become more focused on employee development, women are generally viewed as more naturally nurturing. It’s also true that women have traditionally gravitated to HR as a career choice and so, perhaps, there are more females in the search pool,” she noted.

For all the value that those who occupy the chief human resources officer (CHRO) seat have brought to their companies over the years, it is only now that the role has begun to claim the fullest respect and attention of top leadership. It’s been a long time coming, say recruiters who hunt for them, but in today’s business climate, in which responding to change and getting off the ball first matters a great deal, CHROs are playing a more critical part in moving their organizations forward.

A Unique Perspective

The CHRO, of course, has always played an essential role. But changing times have helped to elevate the position to new heights. According to Alan Guarino, vice chairman in the CEO and board services practice for Korn Ferry, there’s a bit of a revolution going on in the world of CHROs. He brings a unique perspective to Korn Ferry as a former chief executive officer and experienced consultant, working with corporate boards and executive teams to drive business and talent management strategies.

Here’s some of Mr. Guarino’s latest thinking on CHROs: Alan, describe for us how the CHRO role has evolved in recent years?

Gone are the days when people in this role are seen as the keepers of the administrative people functions. Today’s effective CHROs are clearly part of the executive teams that develop and execute business strategy. Increasingly, the CHROs that we work with own the talent solution side of the business, aligning talent workstreams to drive the business toward the organization’s objectives. Companies where the CHRO focuses on this strategic set of responsibilities are positioned to gain the upper hand, because these firms are likely to better execute their strategies.

So why do CHROs have the potential to make great leaders? Korn Ferry research shows that, while most best-in-class executives reveal a similar silhouette, it is clear that CHROs are cut from the same cloth as CEOs and COOs. It is not a surprise that COOs and CEOs have similar profiles, given that they play similar roles. What is fascinating is that best-in-class CHROs are so much more similar to CEOs than are CFOs, CIOs, or CMOs. Even examining nuanced distinctions, we find that the CHRO’s profile is statistically closer to that of the CEO and COO than are the other key functional leaders.

How do CEOs view the importance of the CHRO position within the overall scope of the how the business performs? Paying attention to the talent part of the business is critical to success. Total human capital costs can account for as much as 70 percent of operating expenses, including for Fortune 500 companies. To get the most from this investment, organizations need to align their talent strategies and their business objectives. Historically, HR has been very proud of its programs. The focus has been the programs and their component parts and not how they actually drove the successful execution of the business strategy. But today, it’s not about the programs. It’s about workstreams that align talent to the mission. This alignment puts CHROs in a very strategic position and in partnership with the CEO, CFO, chief marketing officers (CMOs), and other C-level leaders.

What can you tell us about the current state of the CEO / CHRO relationship? What’s the balance of power? Of great importance in the expanded role of the CHRO is acting as a key ally to the CEO. As a trusted advisor, the CHRO can tell the CEO what he or she needs to know: Is the CEO having the intended impact as a leader? Is the right executive talent in place? Is the culture productive and emerging—or is it in danger of becoming toxic and demoralizing? Without leveraging such deep insights on talent, leadership, and culture, a CEO may find that even exceptional technical solutions are not being implemented—or are being implemented out of sync with rapidly changing global markets. CHROs who move well beyond merely administering programs create impact and a return on the money invested in their company’s talent systems. It takes courage and a willingness to be proactive; they must anticipate problems before they arise and provide solutions. As more CHROs step up to the challenges and expectations of broader, more strategic responsibilities, the more the role will evolve into ownership of the talent solutions for executing the organization’s strategies.

Here is a Link to Alan Guarino’s Published Work and Media Appearances: http://www.kornferry.com/consultants/alanguarino/

Scott A. Scanlon is founding chairman and CEO of Hunt Scanlon Media. Based in Greenwich, Conn., Scott serves as Editor-in-Chief of Hunt Scanlon's daily newswires, its recruiting industry reports and Executive Search Review.

This blog first appeared at http://huntscanlon.com/

Women Rise to Dominate CHRO Roles, But Falter On Path to CEO

 Published on October 24, 2016

NINE Qualities Recruiters Want to See in Every Single Candidate

It doesn’t matter your industry or pay grade—these traits will make you a hot commodity in any field.

Dominique Rodgers, Monster contributor.

Though some jobs call for an endless combination of skills, the most sought-after employee traits are often universal, whether you’re a aerospace engineer, sales associate or mailroom worker.

So what are these highly coveted qualities? Monster reached out to nine recruiters and career experts to find out what they want to see in every candidate, from the C-suite to the interns.


“Someone who is ambitious comes prepared to the interview and expresses lots of interest in the position. A candidate who wants to grow their career with the company can be an investment for the long term. Candidates can demonstrate ambition by listing achievements that include exceeding goals or working in a leadership position, even while at school or in a volunteer capacity.” —Jeanine Hamilton, founder and president of Hire Partnership, a staffing firm in Boston


“Curiosity can leap off a resume and cover letter through the inclusion of varied experiences within a person’s industry of choice. It comes through during interviews when a candidate asks intelligent questions about the client company’s background and culture, as well as the role itself. Research the industry and company before your interview so you can progress to a broader discussion, indicating your interest and commitment to proactively gathering information and solutions.” —Karen Finan, partner at Gilman Partners, a recruiting firm in Cincinnati


“Show your grit by providing context for your achievements. For example, on a resume, instead of writing, 'Implemented project X three months ahead of schedule,' say, 'Implemented project X three months ahead of schedule during a 12 month hiring freeze and change in executive sponsorship.' This demonstrates that you not only delivered the project ahead of schedule, but also against a limitation of resources and during a time of change.”—Suzanne Elliott, head of human resources for Farmers Insurance in Los Angeles


“Humility goes a long way when it comes to driving good teamwork. It’s important to celebrate as a team but also to personally take responsibility for shortcomings. The best way to demonstrate this is during an interview. We look for individuals who emphasize ‘we’ versus ‘I,’ and we also dig in to past accomplishments, mistakes or failures to see how a person reflects on those times. Were the accomplishments described as a team effort? Is blame being placed elsewhere, or do they own their part of that mistake or failure?” — Heather Germain, director of human resources at Professional Staffing Group, a full-service staffing firm in Boston


“Hustle doesn’t stem from talent; it is more about effort, ethics, attitude and passion. If you’re prepared, willing to be coached and want to go above and beyond, then you’ve got hustle. You understand that you can create success and have the energy to go for it.” — Chris McCaffrey, account manager at Betts Recruiting, a tech recruiting firm in San Francisco

Learning Agility

“Learning agility is the ability to learn from experience and adapt those experiences to future situations. In interviews, I assess this by asking candidates how they ‘learned the ropes’ [at their last job]. I also focus on critical incidents—high points, low points and turning points—for each job. I am looking and probing for how resourceful the candidate was in their response to challenges and opportunities they faced. What did they learn, and how did it change them?” — Don Tebbe, co-founder of an executive search firm and editor at Exits From the Top in Montgomery Village, Maryland


“If a candidate doesn’t have a positive and upbeat demeanor, it’s a deal-breaker. To clarify, I’m not talking about a Pollyanna attitude, but rather someone who has a great attitude, smile, energy and optimism that others feel when they interact with them. Moreover, someone that when ‘stuff’ happens they have an uncanny ability to figure out root causes, work through them with optimism, learn from the situation and find some sort of silver lining in the experience.” — Kyle Bruss, director of talent acquisition for Talent Plus in Lincoln, Nebraska


“Scientists use consistent—or reliable—past results in order to predict future behavior. The same holds true at work. Reliability is important because it shows your future boss what they can expect of you going forward. Show you are reliable by [being on time] for interviews or meetings, and sending your resume, and any other piece of documentation requested, when you promised.” —Angela Copeland, career and job search coach in Memphis


“A perceptive interviewer quickly picks up on the fast-talking, withholding, misleading or less-than-honest interviewee. Be open and forthcoming. It’s OK to admit being terminated because of a difference of opinion with your boss, or a culture mismatch, or a mistake with a lesson learned, as examples. It happens, and it will come out in the reference checks. Always maintain confidentiality [agreements] and be respectful of a former employer, but admit that there was an issue. Transparency always wins.”

Donna Friedman, Founder and CEO of Tower Consultants, an executive recruitment consultancy, based in Fort Pierce, Florida

“We value integrity… We do not bite the hand that  feeds us!”