Strategies for Merging the Roles of HR and Finance Leaders

August 18, 2015 Zuman

The roles of the chief human resources officer and chief financial officer have several shared tasks and responsibilities, including employee payroll management and benefits selection based on the business’s budget. However, their roles are also unique in many ways, which is what makes merging the two positions into one a complex maneuver for a company.

Combining the CHRO and CFO jobs can lead to greater benefits for a business. Here are some strategies for merging the roles and making sure your company does well in the time of transition:

1. Focus on the shared bonds
A Corporate Executive Board survey asked CHROs and CFOs which areas of their jobs they believed their counterpart could thrive in and which aspects would take an adjustment. Both said the other would do well with strategic planning to achieve corporate goals and implementing an ongoing review process that allows both HR and finance to work together on important decisions. Where the two sides differed were on issues such as understanding strategy for each department and specific legal issues, such as labor laws, which are required of their respective positions.

For a business that is set to hand over the roles of the CHRO and CFO to one person, focusing on the aspects the two roles share is the best place to start. By highlighting how the new role will be similar to the previous ones, the executive in the new position will have a greater understanding of the tasks.

David Russo, an HR technology expert, told the Society for Human Resource Management that having a strategic plan for running a department is important. That starts with grasping what the job entails and how those responsibilities connect with other elements of a business.

“Strategic HR is the ability to be doing constant environmental scans, developing trends and concepts and applying all of that in a business sense to create a competitive advantage for your enterprise by the people that work there,” Russo said. “That’s what I think about being strategic. Being not just ahead of the curve but on the curve, having a good sense, a good feel of what’s happening, what’s about to happen and then how it all interacts with the organization’s finances, organizational design and the economics of supply and demand.”

2. Have solutions to solve all types of problems
One skill both CHROs and CFOs must have is the ability to resolve issues that take place within a business. Many of the CHRO’s problems concern people, while a CFO’s issues deal with finances. Keeping both human and financial resources of a business in good shape are major priorities for any business, so whoever takes on the dual role of running HR and finance will need to have strong problem-solving skills.

Working with others in the office, especially peers on the executive level, is a great place to start, the Harvard Business Review stated. Looking over ways to fix problems is useful, but identifying why those issues arise in the first place is a terrific way to stop them before they start. Reviewing how peers work together, what resources can be allocated to improving worker productivity and what strategies to take in the hiring process can go a long way to fixing an office’s problems.

Correctly identifying the source of problems can save the hassle of dealing with common issues, as well as limiting the financial and time resources that go into hiring new workers in the case of people departing the company over everyday workplace disruptions.

3. Invest in analytics
Data is the best friend of a person new to the dual CFO/CHRO role. There is information everywhere regarding both the best practices for managing people and finances, and the more a business invests in analytics, the better prepared the executive will be to handle the challenges that come his or her way.

Transforming data into actionable insights and changes is a top priority of any HR department, according to a 2014 issue of Deloitte Review. Data can have several uses depending on what route the business chooses to invest in. Information helps a business design and implement a growth-oriented plan for the company, which the leader of finance and HR will be at the forefront of. Or a business can use the data it collects to create predictive models, which allow it to determine where financial and manpower resources should be invested.

Understanding how data works and what value it can bring to a business gives the executive a leg-up in his or her merged role.

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