Episode 249: Why the CHRO is the New CPO

Today’s podcast is part of a series on the Workology Podcast focused on the role and responsibilities of the Chief Human Resources Officer, or CHRO. The CHRO is an executive or C-level role that deals with managing human resources, as well as with organizational development and implementing policies of change to improve the overall efficiency of the company. The CHRO Podcast series on Workology is powered by HUB International. One of the reasons I wanted to do this series is because there is a lot of mystery around the CHRO role. I want aspiring CHRO’s to know what type of skills and experiences they need to promote into a future CHRO role along with hearing from senior HR leadership how they are partnering and collaborating with their executive peers. 

Episode 249: Why the CHRO is the New CPO with Derek Sidebottom (@DerekSidebottom)

Today I’m joined by Derek Sidebottom, CHRO, Scale-Up Talent Consultant, Coach & Distributed Workforce Speaker. Derek has been in the people business for the past 20 years, and his role has evolved over time from HR Director and VP of HR to Chief People Officer and CHRO. He has an interesting take on functional excellence and applying the terminology of sales, marketing, and operations to that role. 

Derek said that “the role of the CHRO should be more of a chief product officer; the product just happens to be the organization. You need a brand promise that differentiates what you’re offering. Then the customers need to know you exist. Then you need to ensure every touchpoint from check in to check out is exceptional and aligned with that promise. This to me is the hardest part of the role – staying in that macro/abstract level of thought.”

The role of the #CHRO should be more of a chief product officer; the product just happens to be the organization. @DerekSidebottom #podcast #humanresources Click To Tweet

Derek explained that traditionally, our product worked a certain way now, we are faced with building and supporting in our CPO role two different product sub-categories: 1) traditional, 2) remote. As we re-imagine and build out our workforce planning for 2021 and beyond, we need to look at how to support the organization’s business and financial goals thinking about these two internal products that we are responsible for.

Why HR is the Internal Chief Product Officer

What HR leaders should be asking ourselves as we move through the process of thinking like a chief product officer: What is our promise to our internal customers about our organization? What products and services do we need to align with that promise and ensure that our internal products are successful? As we shift back to an in-office plan, what protocols must we put in place to ensure the safety of our people? Do we continue to screen candidates and onboard new employees virtually, whether they will work remotely or not? What has worked well and what has not? Have we identified the right touchpoints, the ones that genuinely matter, and are we exceptional? 

I asked Derek for his advice to leadership experiencing high-growth periods. He said “For me, it’s management healthy habits, Purpose, Goals, Role accountability, feedback, staying connected through 1:1’s and ensuring employee development interests are taken into account.

“Otherwise you just throw people at the problem and they don’t know what they’re supposed to do, why they’re supposed to do it or who and when it should happen. They eventually feel like their voices aren’t heard, they don’t know anyone anymore and they’ll go look after their own interests somewhere else.”

This was a really good tweet from him in July related to growth.

It’s really interesting to delve into how a role like CHRO whose experience more closely connects them to the strategy and operations of the overall business works with the rest of a company leadership team, as well as for a company in a high-growth mode. The CHRO doesn’t just lead HR within a company, the role is also key to structuring the leadership for a company’s executive team. I appreciate Derek taking the time to share his experience with us today.

Connect with Derek on LinkedIn



Ep 247 – Secrets of HR Technology Implementation ~ More from the CHRO Series 

CHRO Job Description

2020 CHRO Report

Your Guide to the HR Organization and Team Structures

Episode transcript

– Connect with HUB International on Twitter , LinkedinInstagram  , Facebook 


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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.


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