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Human resources (HR) traditionally performed administrative functions like hiring and firing, benefits and compensation and rules and regulation compliance, but in 2019, CEOs will increasingly view HR in a more strategic way, as most CEOs view people skills as a key to success. The chief human resource officer (CHRO) must be an active participant in defining and developing a company’s strategy, as they know if the workforce has a sense of where the company is headed and what the common values are. CHROs need advanced people skills, with an ability to work with diverse groups of people and in high-pressure situations. They should have an intuitive gift for talking and listening to others, with the capacity to defuse tension, find common ground and suggest solutions to problems. In a tight labor market, CHROs also understand what potential employees value in a company and what works to establish a culture to encourage professional development and employee engagement. CHROs often come from a variety of professional backgrounds, but they have a solid business acumen and an ability to analyze big-picture business goals and break them into manageable systems and processes. CEOs also need to be able to rely on their CHRO to adapt and adjust during periods of transformation, including the ability to navigate mergers, acquisitions or reorganizations and the ability to help employees deal with high levels of stress and emotion. CHROs who maintain a calm demeanor and optimistic attitude during tense situations are invaluable to their organizations. In order to focus on strategic goals, CHROs also should be able to use technology to streamline or automate repetitive administrative duties. For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies also could save CHROs time and money by taking charge of the initial stages of sourcing and screening job applicants.

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