The Evolving Role of CHROs

Steve Price, CHRO, Dell Technologies[NYSE:DVMT]

Steve Price, CHRO, Dell Technologies[NYSE:DVMT]

The Role of Today’s CHRO

At the highest level, the CHRO’s job is to build competitive advantage for the company. To help a business not only succeed, but to also be great, our job is to weave three agendas together— ensuring employees clearly understand the strategic direction and plan for how we win and serve our customers; ensuring a strong and positive culture permeates the business environment and serves as the foundation for our team members’ ability to execute that strategy; and, finally, ensuring the business has the right people in the right roles, particularly across the company’s leadership, who ultimately are responsible for turning the strategy and culture into value creation for our customers. At Dell, we do this by cultivating great leaders, shepherding our culture code, and championing ideas and solutions that drive team member productivity and company performance.

"Work is no longer a matter of where you are, but rather what you’re doing"

Workplace Trend Enabled by Technology

Flexible and remote work arrangements are increasingly becoming the norm in modern organizations. When you take a look at independent career websites like Glassdoor, or even our own team member research at Dell, flexibility is the top reason for recommending Dell as a great place to work.

Today more than half of global employees work outside of a traditional office space at least once a week, according to Dell and Intel’s 2016 Future Workforce Study. I believe that this cultural shift is a direct result of the availability of new technology that increases productivity and enables the flexibility needed for a better work-life balance. For example, collaboration tools are making locality obsolete, allowing for fluid communication and collaboration among team members regardless of geographical region. Work is no longer a matter of where you are, but rather what you’re doing. In addition, offering more flexible work options to employees helps attract and retain world-class talent—your team members can choose the best working style that fits their needs and you’re able to hire the best candidates, despite their physical location.

At Dell, we’re firm believers in the benefits of a flexible workplace. In fact, one of our Legacy of Good Goals is for 50 percent of eligible team members to enroll in our flexible work program— Connected Workplace—by 2020. In 2015, we conducted a study to better understand the sustainability-related effects of our remote work initiatives. Our findings showed that flexible work practices also help conserve natural resources and energy, reduce transportation-related pollution, promote public safety and lessen the strain on transportation systems. It also allows Dell to maximize its use of office space, minimizing operating costs by millions of dollars.

Future Technology Innovation

What personally excites me the most are those technologies that deliver a direct impact to a business’ bottom-line. The innovative technologies that are critical for flexible workplaces, such as offerings from Dell, offer great incentives from a fiscal perspective. And looking further out, I’m also incredibly excited that we will soon be seeing more innovative tools in companies’ office spaces. I’m not alone in this—According to Dell and Intel’s study, more than 50 percent of employees expect to be working in a smart office in the next five years. Specifically, respondents believe that cutting-edge technology, such as Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual and augmented reality will soon play a pivotal role in how we work, increasing productivity, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.

On this front, I’m excited to continue to provide our own team members at Dell with the latest technology, tools and training that will cultivate a more productive and collaborative work environment.

Changes in the HR Operating Model of Dell

Over the last five years we’ve seen an extraordinary amount of change and improvement in how we strategically deliver HR services and support at Dell. Our evolution is driven by our commitment to meet the business needs of our leadership and team members across the company while also to consistently enhance our capabilities and offerings in light of what other world-class HR functions are doing in the market as well as in response to broader emerging HR trends. For instance, we saw that there was a need for deeper functional expertise and specialization over the traditional generalist approach. There were also new technology solutions that could provide more scale and give team members more time to focus on higher-value work. Furthermore, we have maintained a consistent focus over the past several years on optimizing our costs by driving the right balance of efficiency and effectiveness through repeatable processes. Our operating model today accounts for each of these areas while also offering new career opportunities for those with deeper skill sets across multiple disciplines for all of our HR team members.

Our model enables us to provide a competitive advantage to Dell and position us as a premier company where people are challenged, inspired and thrive. In order to continue enabling this, we know we must focus on knowing the business, design our work and priorities from the customer-back, eliminate bureaucracy wherever we see it, ensure our HR solutions are simple and impactful, and make data-driven decisions through strong people analytics and insights. It’s with these key areas in mind that we will continue to evaluate our model for further, ongoing enhancements.

Guidance to Emerging CHROs

I’ve been at Dell for 20 years, seven of which in my current role as the CHRO. My advice to a strong leader who is making his or her way to the senior leadership level of their company—whether it be in HR, sales or some other corporate function—is simple: understand your company’s overall business and strategy; know how your company makes money and drives growth; understand the importance of a unified corporate culture; and cultivate and develop strong leaders to sustain a company’s values and principles. At a more personal level, at Dell we have seven leadership principles, and the two that matter most to our team members are vision and selflessness. The other attributes are relationships, drive, judgement, optimism and humility. We know that our employee sentiment is much more positive when their leaders are extraordinary at least one of these traits.

So my advice would also be very pointed on this front: pick a leadership attribute or two and fully commit yourself to them. Become an exceptional example of that leadership attribute to your team members as well as your colleagues. This one step will make a big difference for any executive on the rise.

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