Are You A Net-Exporter of Talent?

3/20/15

Are You a Net-Exporter of Talent?

I’ve written about two issues over the past year, both of which seemed to come together this past week as I was leading Cornell’s “The Modern CHRO Role” class aimed at potential successors to the CHRO. The first issue is one that has bothered me: the small percentage of internal successors in the CHRO role. That number has hovered around 35% over the years that I have conducted my survey of CHROs, and if anything, it shows a slight downward trend over the past 4 years.

The second deals with the ready-now/ready gone issue in terms of successors. This challenge arises from the fact that if firms create ready now successors before positions come open, they risk losing those individuals.

As I sat listening to a number of CHROs such as Jim Duffy, Mike D’Ambrose, John Murabito, and Monique Herena, it struck me that these individuals face this timing challenge. I began to wonder how many CHROs don’t invest heavily in developing their successors because they don’t have any plans to leave the role soon, and don’t want to risk creating ready-gone successors. Groom a successor too soon and risk losing that talent to another company.

However, Mirian Graddick-Weir put it all in perspective for me when she noted that she now has 4 CHROs at different companies that worked for her. She says she was sorry that they left, but that she was proud of the fact that she had helped to develop them. It occurred to me then, that she has been a net-exporter of talent, something that we, in HR, want to see from line executives.

So, let me propose this challenge to all the CHROs who are part of HRPA. Take on the challenge of becoming a net-exporter of CHRO talent. Be less afraid of losing great people than you are of not having developed great people. Do all you can to develop potential successors, and if your CEO ultimately decides to hire from the outside, let your legacy be, not that you had an internal successor named, but that you had at least one qualified successor for the CEO to choose, and you developed a number of CHROs who have contributed to the progress of the field.