Making your mark: surviving the first 100 days in a new CHRO role

The first 100 days of being a new CHRO can make or break your career. HRD Singapore delves into what it takes to get the most out of this initial period.

When asked about what a new CHRO could expect in their first 100 days on the job, Padraig O’Sullivan, managing partner of executive transition consultancy, O’SullivanField, summed it up quite simply: “Everyone’s nice to you but no one wants to be your friend.”

The first 100 days can be quite overwhelming for the new CHRO especially since this is the most people-centric role within the c-suite of any organisation. Once appointed, it is important for a CHRO to “jealously guard” their time so they are not inundated with information. “Prioritise who you are going to spend time with in the first 100 days because everyone will want [to meet with] the HRD,” O’Sullivan said.

The best attitude is to take things slowly throughout this initial period, O’Sullivan suggests. “Take time to understand the business of your business.” It is crucial to focus on who your peers are within the organisation, what the direction of the company is, and whether the present HR team is fulfilling its goals.

These initial 100 days will also be a period of time when a new CHRO notices more within the company. “When you jump into a goldfish bowl, for the first few months you actually spot everything but after a while it all blends [together]”, O’Sullivan told HRD Singapore. This is therefore the perfect time to work out the nuances of the organisation especially in terms of the following:
  • The strategy of the business, ie how it makes money
  • How the CEO and CHRO are supposed to work together
  • How the HR director will shape the organisation’s culture
  • The required functions of the CHRO and the HR team
In addition to dealing with this flood of information, many new HR directors in Singapore will have to get used to reporting to an expat CEO. In these cases, O’Sullivan suggests trying hard to “understand the particular leadership nuances that this leader has”. If a new CHRO has never worked with a non-Singaporean before, this can create further difficulties during the first 100 days unless they take the time to look and learn.

The right attitude is required so that a new HR director supplies some “early wins” which show the organisation that they have hired the right individual. To accomplish this, O’Sullivan typically works through the PALDAR system which covers the first year of the new CHRO’s role. The first 100 days (12 weeks) are clearly mapped out from delivering a clear message on arrival to developing the HR team and strategy.

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