Episode 258: How To Get Executive Support As The CHRO

Today’s podcast is part of a new 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. 

Today I’m joined by Jenna Saponaro, Chief of Staff at Postali LLC. Jenna is responsible for HR functions for her company, including talent recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and training. Jenna, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

 

Episode 258: How To Get Executive Support As The CHRO with Jenna Saponaro (@JennaSaponaro)

 

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. 

 

How do CHROs work when they’re wearing multiple hats, from executive team to hiring to workplace initiatives? We’ve talked to many CHROs who are part of larger teams, but I know there are just as many who are performing most of their company’s HR functions. I talked with Jenna Saponaro, Chief of Staff at Postali LLC. Jenna is responsible for HR functions for her company, including talent recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and training. 

 

Postali is a full-service marketing agency, offering the whole spectrum of legal marketing services that meet the unique needs of lawyers and law firms. Jenna explained that the way Postali is set up is highly efficient. While she is technically a “department of one,” says Jenna, “I do have some support with that.” She has team members for administrative work, like processing payroll. “We believe in getting creative with resourcing when we need it.”

 

I asked Jenna what she thinks is the most important skill for aspiring CHROs. “The first thing that comes to mind is emotional intelligence,” she said. “I think to be successful in this role, you need to be really astute in observing others and how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, how they’re responding to things, especially to change and being able to respond accordingly. You have to be able to tailor your communication style to different individuals, as well as to different groups to be able to get your message across properly by thinking through what will matter to that person about what you are sharing and being able to show empathy.”

 

I asked Jenna to walk us through using Lattice and how it has changed or helped support the organization. She mentioned Radical Candor by Kim Scott and how that helped her set the groundwork for how her company wanted to communicate and set standards. “We customized Lattice for our purposes; we are a small team and a lot of sophisticated HR tools are meant for larger teams, so we were able to adapt the platform so it aligned to the way we’re structured. One of the most important things is to ensure that we had a channel for feedback, as well as a tool for our managers to support their teams.”

 

Postali also uses Notion, a shared workspace and note taking app that can be highly customized to create a very unique team workspace. “It’s a great place for us to hold company information, house our values and our vision for the company, information about our team members, and it’s very visually appealing. It’s where our new team members can find tons of information when they need it.” 

 

Small Company, Big Benefits

 

One thing I wanted to talk to Jenna about was Postali’s benefits package, which is amazing considering the size of her company. “We are a values based organization and one of our values is people. We really want to support each team member outside of work. We want people to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work every day and have supportive benefit programs from a full medical, dental and vision plan, profit sharing and a really fantastic paid family leave program for new moms and dads at one hundred percent pay for ten weeks.” They also don’t have a cap on how much time employees can take off. Jenna said these are benefits that have been in place since before she joined the company two and a half years ago.

 

We want people to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work every day. Click To Tweet

 

And it does impact Postali’s brand in a really positive way. Jenna said that she hears from team members and even candidates when she’s hiring mention that the benefits are a huge draw for them. Outside of health benefits, the company also does smaller things that have a big impact on its culture. “We encourage people to walk across the street and get a coffee with their coworker, so we give a gift card to Starbucks each month. We’re always dreaming up new things and surveying the team about how they think it would impact them and what would mean a lot if we were able to offer it.”

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. 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 Jenna taking the time to share her experience with us.

 

Connect with Jenna Saponaro.

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

 

– Jenna Saponaro on LinkedIn

– Postali

– CHRO Job Description

– Lattice

– Book Recommendation: Radical Candor by Kim Scott 

– Episode 256: The Role of the CHRO in the First 90 Days

– Episode Transcript

 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@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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