Wednesday 11 January 2012

2011-12 CHRO Challenges


   I obviously had too good a Christmas as I’ve been struggling to get back into work mode again.  But I’m now back at client work so it’s time to kick off blogging again too.

This year I’m keen to continue a good rate of posting, and to make my posts more strategic too.  There are now an awful lot of HR bloggers out there, but I want to ensure this blog is the one you continue to return to for advice on strategic people management and development.

I therefore thought it might be appropriate to start this year’s posting by reviewing Cornell CAHRS’ report, the 2011 CHRO challenges (based upon meeting the CEO’s needs for HR).  I may of course just be reinforcing my image of always being a bit late to the party, but then I only received this document towards the end of last year, and I’m sure the same sort of challenges will apply in 2012 as well.

The other reason that I wanted to pick up on this is that for the first time in three years, CAHRS have been able to separate out European data.  I write here for a global audience, but most (not all) of my clients are European based, so I’m particularly interested in their challenges.  And it’s interesting to see that European CHROs (or Heads of HR) generally experience the same main challenges as their US counterparts – particularly related to dealing with the lack of talent in the HR function.

However, this challenge is greater here too – leading to a significantly enhance challenge in transforming the HR function.



I had thought initially seeing this result that the difference in Europe would be down to the multi-country / language / labour code environment in which we work in here, but actually the obstacles are mainly about people – HR competencies (Europe 97%, US 58%), HR resources (25 / 34%) and organisational talent (19 / 25%), as well as in Europe, HR processes (29 / 5%), HR technology (25 / 10%) and line support (25 / 6%).  Not regulatory / legal constraints – which are actually higher in the US! (6 / 13%).

So what’s behind this lack of people and competencies?  One factor is the low promotion rates of CHROs compared to other CXOs (HBR article pictured above), particularly in Europe, where just 24% of CHROs are promoted from within the function.


I also think its about the lack of strategic development opportunities available, particularly again in Europe.  OK, we’ve got the CIPD in the UK which is broadly comparable to SHRM, but we don’t have anything comparable to HCI, HRPS etc, and I think it shows.

I’ll be making more announcements about my forthcoming support for strategic HR development during 2012 shortly…

You can also join my webinar on innovating HR at 4.00pm GMT tomorrow.



  • Consulting - Research - Speaking - Training - Writing
  • Strategy - Talent - Engagement - Change and OD
  • Contact me to create more value for your business
  • jon [dot] ingham [at] strategic [dash] hcm [dot] com



  1. Great post, Jon. In my experience, European organizations were more apt than their American counterparts to "get it" when it comes to talent and people practices. This data shows that too many American organizations are mired in short-term thinking about people (compliance and the dealing with the board) rather than the transformational power of HR.

  2. Hi Steve, great comment, though there's a huge amount of short-term thinking on this side of the pond as well! In general, I think there is a lot of best development practice here, and best recruitment, plus technology practice there. With, of course, a few great example on both sides of the pond.

  3. Gentleman and then there are the emerging markets which are fast growth and with very unique HR Challenges yet with innovatice solutions.

  4. Great point John = and one of the key reasons why I try to spend as much time as I do in emerging markets... (and I'd be up for even more...)


Please add your comment here (email me your comments if you have trouble and I will put them up for you)