Jess ElmquistJanuary 03, 2023
Topics: HR Experience

3 Resolutions Every CHRO Should Commit to in 2023

2022 is finally behind us. For most HR leaders I've talked to, we have been ready to put one more year between us and the tumult of the past few years. There is a large group in the market that hopes this year will bring a little more stability and predictability to our work!

I know we are all perfectly ready for something different, yet I carry that hope as we turn the page to a new year. Thinking about 2022, I  jotted down a few reflections to share before things really begin to ramp up again.

Looking back, this was an amazing and rewarding year for me, both personally and professionally.

Personally, I had the honor of officiating at my son’s wedding! Between making sure I covered all the legal aspects of the ceremony itself, and making sure I held it together emotionally, I had my hands full! After a successful wedding, my son and his new bride are off to make a life of their own together. It was a special day. (Note to fellow parents: few things test your resolve more than marrying off your children. Trust me on that!)

On the professional side, I was never busier. I traveled around the country strategizing with HR leaders like you about culture, talent, and organizational effectiveness. We probably met at one of the many in-person gatherings this year, such as the Gartner ReimagineHR conference in Orlando; the SHRM gathering in Atlanta; Consero CHRO conference in The Woodlands, Texas; or the Talent Board Awards in Dallas.

Thank you for coming up to me at these and other events to introduce yourselves.

I equally enjoyed meeting many of you who attended my webinars. Customers and partners such as Eric Van Duren of Bon Secours Mercy Health and Greg Muccio and Kelby Tansey at Southwest Airlines provided riveting conversations throughout the year about the hiring and retention challenges they overcame with our intelligent talent experience platform.

Effie Gikas of Cigna and HR industry analyst and thought leader Josh Bersin joined me days ago for a deep look at the importance of building employee skills frameworks and supporting our talent to access and plan their careers.

I encourage you to listen to what they had to say. Cigna is proof positive that the ROI is real!

Customer successes are my successes. It’s why I got into this line of work in the first place: to bring solutions to CHROs that help their organizations run at peak performance.

I’ll never forget the excitement this year at launching Phenom’s Customer Advisory Board. We had about a dozen customers join us in Philadelphia for networking, conversation, and strategic planning.

What we learned there will make Phenom better and contribute to the ongoing success of our amazing members.

IAMPHENOM — our premier intelligent talent experience event — is coming up in March. Mark your calendars! I can’t wait to see all of you in Philadelphia for that one. March is also the same month I’ll be speaking in Austin at SXSW about the power of AI and how this rapidly evolving technology is supporting people to make the best talent decisions.

Even more big plans are in store for next year. More details to come.


Making an Annual Plan – and Sticking to It

Every year around this time, my wife and I make an annual plan with specific goals. We typically sit down at the kitchen counter and come up with what we call our Dream Board.

We collect about 25 magazines and — methodically and with a sense of purpose — cut out headlines, phrases, and pictures that speak to us and reflect our goals for the year.

We talk about how these images and words represent what we are looking to accomplish in the coming year.

We attach all of these images and phrases together and create a Dream Board and hang it up with magnets on a metal wall in the office, where it’s always visible.

The point is: we definitely see the value of manifesting our dreams, our thoughts, and our goals in a physical way. It’s the power of intention as much as it is making a promise or resolution to yourself.

Many of you would agree with that. So let me leave you with 3 resolutions for every CHRO next year:

1. Claim your authority in the C-suite
. I can’t stress enough how important this is. CEOs tend to have a dose of skepticism that they can trust their CHROs, and in some cases, that’s true. Not all cases, of course.

Take the example of a CHRO I met this year. She was fabulous. She championed Phenom all the way through the executive ranks of her company. She got buy-in from the CEO because she had his trust already, and she knew what the Phenom platform would mean to the company.

So the C-suite is clearly asking for our input on an HR strategy to support the business to meet their goals. The question is: can they trust us as CHROs to deliver the talent, support internal teams, and ultimately deliver a proactive business strategy? 

If the answer is ‘yes,’ then the following bullet point is crucial.

2. Own the technology
. As a leader in the executive conference room, be the expert who can champion the benefits of an AI-powered talent experience platform. 

A Gartner study found that AI continues to be top-of-mind for CEOs, so CHROs need to be the go-to source of truth. The problem is that many of us are kind of in the technology world but we’re not of it. Don't delegate tech decisions to your TA staff or HRIS team — own the HR tech stack and bring data and insights to other senior leaders to make informed people decisions.  

If technology is just not your thing, then plan on another year of ceding great talent to your competitors.

3. Embrace change
. I have a strong suspicion that many of us have had a nagging feeling that what got us and our teams this far isn’t necessarily the solution for tomorrow.

Seek out insights that make you uncomfortable, challenge business as usual and plan for continued new pressure in the work we do. 

Restructure your HR team to be more effective in the new talent economy. Do you need new skills in digital marketing? Do you need more control of your technology decisions?   Are your skills ontology and talent marketplaces developed to inspire and retain talent?  

Chances are there’s a member of your team who has great ideas about doing things differently. Let’s resolve to stop forcing your team into the old way of getting things done.

New Beginnings

Although we do know that markets cycle, we have a sense that this cycle is moving into something new and permanent, so here’s a parting thought.

You and I have the greatest job in an organization — we connect great people to meaningful work. What an awesome responsibility.

Humans need clear lines of demarcation to begin and end things. That's why we have seven days in a week and 24 hours in a day. Start-stop.

There is something amazing about the end of one year and the beginning of another — and there’s scientific research to back this up — where people feel the most power and the ability to make a change is in the ebbing of the tide, in the moments in the middle as the old winds down and the new gears up.

See you in the new year! If you’d like to meet with me, I’m on LinkedIn. Let’s make those touchpoints happen.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Jess Elmquist

Jess Elmquist is the Chief Human Resources Officer and Chief Evangelist at Phenom. In a previous career as the Chief Learning Officer at Life Time, the healthy way of life company, Jess hired more than 200,000 people and spoke to hundreds of his executive peers about talent trends.

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