Every CEO should understand there are two types of HR people. One is not better than the other and each business has their own need for both types. When CEO’s seek to fill the role for Human Resources, understanding the differences before they hire the new HR team member is vital.

The Business-Centered, Strategically Focused HR Leader

The Strategically Focused HR Leader has the business outcomes in mind all of the time. They think about the bottom line, top line, employee costs, retention and much more. This rare HR leader likely has years of experience and some sort of predilection to finances. They’ve been exposed to C-level conversations and can speak their language around productivity, ROI, and maybe even dive into financial terms like EBITDA and explore overall Operations Cost.

Questions The Strategically Focused HR Leader Should Be Asking in the Interview:

  • What are the strategic business objectives of the business this year?
  • Can we hit those goals with our current headcount, if not, how many people do we need in each department to hit our goals?
  • How do we measure productivity within the organization?
  • What low-hanging fruit steps can we take to save money?
  • How do we measure employee satisfaction?   
  • What HR functions should we prioritize first to hit our company objectives and goals?
  • What role does the CEO play in performance management? (Strategically Focused HR Leaders Will Challenge CEO Involvement)

The Steadfast, Operations Focused HR Executor

The Steadfast Operations Focused HR Executor makes sure all strategic initiatives are getting done. The company needs this person to ensure the strategic plan is getting accomplished. They are the ones deep in the trenches and conversing in depth with employees of the company. From the HR arm of the company, the “Operator” is the connector between the Strategic HR Leader.

Good Executors listen to employees and develop valuable, colloquial relationships with employees.

Questions The Operator Should Be Asking in the Interview:

  • What percentage of employees do performance reviews?
  • Where areas of the plan need the most attention?
  • What takes most of your time that I can lift off your plate?
  • What new initiatives can I expect to plan for in the upcoming months?
  • What does the daily schedule look like in my role?
  • What is the timeline to implement X strategic objective?

HR people should be filtered through these lens. If you do not, many CEO’s have made the mistake of hiring an Operator when they wanted a Strategic and vice versa. The job requirements are completely different as well. Every CEO should understand the difference between these two types of HR people.