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HR Chief Operating Officer


Despite the demonstrated benefits of HR Transformation, business executives and HR leaders alike continue to voice frustration with HR’s ability to deliver value. With no shortage of talented people doing great work, what is the problem? All signs point to the need to rethink how HR organizations deliver on the intent of supporting the business — with a new role designed to drive performance improvements across the entire HR organization. The The HR Chief Operating Officer (HR COO).

The business wants more — not less — from HR

Most business leaders today fully understand the value of people. They can clearly articulate their top people priorities and are more than willing to invest to get what they need. At the same time, chief HR officer (CHRO) leaders know they have to deliver what the business needs and wants. As a result, when business and HR leaders sit down to work together, they are often focused less on what needs to be done and more on how.

Predictably, business leaders want better, faster and more compliant HR services at a lower cost and an HR organization that can turn on a dime to support their ever-changing business strategies and goals. Unfortunately, many HR organizations continue to struggle to meet those demanding requirements.

The challenge of getting to “better, faster, cheaper and more agile” is daunting for any organization, but it is doubly difficult for HR organizations, where many leadership teams still operate with structures and roles that have been in place for decades.

The traditional model for HR leadership

Today, a typical corporate HR leadership team is led by a CHRO and includes HR vice presidents (VPs) for business units, HR VPs for centers of specialization (e.g., compensation and benefits), a VP for HR operations, a VP for HR technology, a head of legal for HR and an HR controller. Some leadership team members have dual reporting relationships, which can include direct lines to the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), or chief legal counsel. 

Within this familiar structure, leadership team roles and responsibilities are predictable. For example, most HR VPs for business units are naturally focused on business unit HR issues. Centers of Expertise leaders concentrate on HR policies and programs. Leaders for HR shared services and technology manage operations and technology and so on. Read more about HR Chief Operating Officer.

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