A new figure of power is moving into the corporate circle of strategic decision makers, report Korn/Ferry and Heidrick and Struggles, the nation’s two largest executive search firms. The trend has profound implications for trainers and human resources development (HRD) managers seeking to move up the company ladder, says David Brinkerhoff, president of Abbott-Smith Associates, the leading executive recruiter in the training field.
The new executive goes by several names, from Vice President/Human Resources to Chief Personnel Officer (CPO). Brinkerhoff predicts trainers and HRD managers will be strongly represented among the new CPOs of this decade. As such, they’ll enjoy unprecedented clout: a vice-president’s title, an officer’s chair and a voice in strategic planning. But they’ll also have to abandon a long-cherished fan¬tasy— that of an HRD empire that’s a corporate power unto itself.
“I don’t see a lot of corporations making vice-presidencies for human resources development,” says Brin¬kerhoff. “As much as people might wish, there’s no way.” Instead, he and other headhunters see the meaning of “Personnel” being broadened to in¬clude training and HRD. “More and more of the personnel role is being fo¬cused on the development of people,” observes Brinkerhoff. “And the people taking those jobs are former HRD managers or persons with a large chunk of that in their background.”
A report from Heidrick and Strug¬gles documents the shifting focus of the CPO. Traditional activities like benefits administration and EEO compliance remain under his or her control, but other responsibilities management development, training and company organization are being added, in many cases changing both the emphasis of the job and the qualifications needed by those who would fill it.
Headhunters, it should be noted, are not philosophers about job design or lines of authority. They find what they are asked to look for. In recent years, they’ve increaseingly been asked to look for CPOs, and the increasing demand is bringing a corresponding increase in pay and stature. Jack Lohnes, managing di¬rector of Korn/Ferry, estimates that in just the past five years compensa¬tion has increased 40% to 60% for the top human resources or personnel executive.
“The corporate vice-president of human resources who made $80,000 a year in 1975 is making $130,000 to $140,000 a year to¬day,” he says. Given ever-stronger demand for qualified people, he anticipates continued increases in salaries and status.
Despite a recession-plagued economy, requests for human resources executives rose to a startling 10% of total executive demand in the first quarter of 1980, a four-point increase over last year, according to Korn/Ferry’s national index of executive vacancies. The statistics have prompted Korn/Ferry President Lester Korn to call the field “one of the great growth areas for the 1980s.”
Source : Training Magazine. By : Elaine Fletcher.