As a young man in corporate America, one of the first things I remember hearing a manager tell me to do was, "Trust and verify." As my career continued, not only did I hear that phrase more often but I truly understood what it really meant. If a CHRO wants to know how to build trust in the workplace, then they must trust their team and verify the work.
A CHRO did not reach the C-Suite alone. While they achieve that level of success through hard work and proven leadership abilities, a big part of leadership is delegation. Good leaders know how to delegate. Being able to evaluate talent is a great skill achieved through experience of course, but mostly with a demonstrated ability to assess a person and determine if they are going to be a trustworthy asset, a work in progress, a suitable team player or a liability.
There's a popular saying made famous by a 1990s television show: "Trust no one." But as CHRO, you must know how to build trust in the workplace, which means you have to trust a lot of people in order to execute the strategies that you design. CHROs need to trust their HR directors, managers and generalists who often have their own direct reports they must trust to administer human capital management (HCM) solutions on the front lines.
Remove the Mystique
One way to maintain and build trust in the workplace is to show up. A CHRO can often have a shroud of mystique around them. If organizations don't have a designated CHRO, then they often have managers and directors instead. In fact, many HR professionals have never even met a CHRO. So, if you're fortunate enough to reach the status of CHRO, one of the best ways to keep your team honest is to visit with them and get to know them. This means instead of a conference call or video call, actually go on-site and meet with your subordinates face-to-face.
Know How to Verify
No one likes to be micromanaged, and CHROs certainly don't have time to micromanage, which brings us back to trust. Trust is fragile so it must be nurtured. A CHRO is tasked with trusting their employees and supporting them through many storms. It's not uncommon for a CHRO to have to ensure that the talent management initiatives are being delivered properly, sometimes independently — and that is when the trust in the relationship can be made stronger.
At the C-level, accessibility is harder and harder to come by, yet it's a key component to sustaining a strong relationship. Being an accessible CHRO means that you're available to everyone, including front-line employees. Through transparency and openness, you will learn if your managers, directors and senior directors are administering the talent management structures according to your blueprint, vision and the organization's culture. This openness will likely encourage everyone to come and discuss difficult concepts, areas of frustration and ideas for improvement.
Look Beyond Reports
A CHRO is inundated with reports, graphs, charts, survey results and big data. In most cases, there is a business intelligence officer that interprets the results. Still, it's important for the CHRO to review the data. It's also important for the CHRO to interface with employees on all levels to understand their jobs and address their concerns directly. Workforce analytics and business intelligence is great and shouldn't be ignored, but a CHRO needs to look beyond reports. To be effective, you must make time to get to know your direct reports and as many of your employees as possible.
Drive the Message
We have the most diverse workforce in our history — there are more women working than ever before and the labor force is multigenerational. It's also the most technologically advanced workforce in history. This represents a unique and exciting challenge for the CHRO because they must be able to communicate effectively and motivate each group. This means the CHRO must always drive the message consistently through all channels and through the correct HR processes and procedures. This way, it's a lot easier to trust and verify.
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