CHRO and CMO : the two sides of a single challenge

Twin brothers in tug of war concept isolated on white

This is the first post of a series about the latest edition of HR Tech World in London, which I introduced here.

I had lots of expectations regarding this event : employee experience, creativity in design and internal processes, and more globally the future of work. In this post I’ll try to articulate a global and joint synthesis of these three challenges.

We don’t do HR for HR anymore but for employees

To feel the big trends and main lines of a fair, one just have to walk through the exhibition hall and look at the exhibitor’s messages. Without talking with anyone or listened to any talk, it’s enough to understand the big trends, the maturity (or lack of) of an industry.

In the line of what I wrote about the HRIS  employee-centricity, following the path of CRM, the message can’t be clearer : the HRIS is moving towars the Employee relationship Management (ERM). Addressing an audience of HRIS or HR professionals, the messages on the booths were clear. No “for more efficient HR” and “we improve your processes” but “Your employees will love it”, “Make things simple”.

This rooting is looking more and more sustainable : we don’t do HR for HR but for people. And, logically or ironically, it’s obvious when you have a look at the solutions :

• startups, pure players, are coming with products directly inspired by the world of customer relationship management.

• older and global vendors are improving their HRIS offering by including things taken from their CRM portfolio.

Data, employee journey, employee understanding, personalization, relationship management, experience personalization, nothing is missing… at least in the discourse. But the discourse is worth nothing if practices does not change.

The future of the CHRO is the CMO. Or the other way around.

When I talk with CHROs who know they must do something but think they have neither the culture nor the skills to do it, I often tell them “meet your CMO, he was at the same stage 5 years ago and he can explain you lots of things and even help you to make things work”.

On the other hand I see CMOs telling me “I’d have lots of ideas to implement to improve our employee experience”.

Said differently by a CMO and a CHRO I recently saw giving a joint talk : “The CHRO is the CMO of employees and the CMO is the CHRO of customers”.

As a matter of fact, both have similar missions

• Sell something or at least make it land on a market. A brand, an offer.

• An audience to target, segment and address in a relevant fashion.

• An audience with fast changing expectations, more and more demanding, considering itself as “markets of one”.

• The need to embrace new approaches : agility, design thinking, creativity…

• The need care more and more about the delivery. For both of them, from now on, the message is worth nothing if it’s not consistent with the employee/customer experience. Non-alignment is more than counter productive : it’s dangerous.

So if we exclude the legal/compliance/personel part of HR – that is more and more taken out the scope of HR in some countries and cultures – we have two people in charge of the “People Experience”.

A business lives on its clients, thanks to its employees. The rest is plumbing.

4 points where HR meets marketing

I can see at list four points where HR and marketing can meet.

• The transformation of the customer experience can’t happen without the employees. It’s a matter of sense, alignment, culture but also of technology, organizational and managerial “equipment”. As the promise made to the customer is higher every day, employees are more and more under-equiped and left to their own devices.

Bottom line : I see more and and more CMOs getting closer to their HR because the elastic between the promise and the delivery can’t stretch to the infinite. They need employees to follow in order their (heavy) investment deliver results. Today they have outputs, not outcomes.

• data, customer/employee knowledge/understanding, the 360° unified view that would be better mutualized in terms of culture and approaches.

Marketing HR, which is a field where RH lack culture and skills. And even tools.

• Experience as a business driver in a digital economy, that challenges both of them and requires a consistent and joint approach. It’s about acquiring skills, changing approaches, and making the one support the other.

What future for the CHRO-CMO duet ? The “People Experience”.

So one can say this is very nice but we still lack a clear vision of what it means in terms of challenges and opportunities for both.

1°) Keep following one’s way

For all the above-mentioned reasons I don’t believe that HR and Marketing will be ignore to ignore each other, the price for the organization in terms of lack of synergies, duplicate initiatives, learning curve and customer experience being too high.

2°) Collaborate

Seeing how many challenges they have in common there are lots of things to mutualize in cultural change, skills acquisition in the field of data, experience,, design etc. They have lot to learn together and often one another.

I see also some fields where they could even co-operate, in HR Marketing for example.

3°) Merge

That’s very likely to happen on a mid-term range but dreaming is allowed. Building a single “People Experience” department with a strategy, a methodology framework, shared practices, would surely drive consistency and internal effectiveness. From a rationality perspective this would be the best solution to think jointly what’s promised outside and what’s done inside to make it happen.

At least, having a shared pool of expertise would make sense.

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