Ed Flowers, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, World Kitchen, discussed the role of the chief people officer in today's organizations during a Fireside Chat with Angela Mancuso, Chief People Officer, The Pampered Chef, at the 2017 Human Capital Leadership Forum in Chicago on May 10. The chat, titled "Chief People Officer and CEO High Performance Effectiveness and Expectations Success Model," emphasized a variety of topics, including:
1. How the CEO and Chief People Officer Collaborate with One Another
The chief people officer plays a key role in an organization's success or failure, according to Flowers.
If the chief people officer allocates the necessary time and resources to foster a relationship with a CEO, he or she can help an organization accomplish its immediate and long-term goals.
Furthermore, the chief people officer must be able to highlight his or her value to a business, Flowers stated. By doing so, the chief people officer can lay the groundwork for a partnership that benefits an organization for years to come.
"My role is to help the company be successful and get revenues and have people who work together effectively," Flowers said. "You really need to understand your impact on the business and how you're going to make the business more successful."
The chief people officer also must be able to understand the CEO's perspective, Flowers pointed out. He or she must be able to take a "strategic" approach to new ideas, Flowers said, and ensure these ideas support a business' short- and long-term plans.
"CEOs all have a 'CEO brain,' and it is a unique brain. Most CEOs are really smart and have bigger perspectives," Flowers stated. "You've got to realize what you're dealing with when you work with a CEO. You can't have a tactical mindset. The mindset has to be strategic, and you have to be able to get into [the CEO's] head."
2. How to Operate Within the C-Suite
Operating within the C-suite can be tricky, particularly for the chief people officer, Flowers said.
"Culture drives success. It's that secret sauce."
However, a chief people officer who is well-informed and diligent may be better equipped than others to share his or her opinions within the C-suite and possess knowledge and insights to support these views.
"You have to have courage," Flowers noted. "If you feel like you're effective and that you can be more effective, I think you have to challenge [the C-suite]."
The chief people officer must build a strong relationship with a CEO as well, Flowers indicated.
With a strong CEO relationship, the chief people officer can gain plenty of support to push new ideas forward across an organization.
"You've got to be ahead of the curve, and that means being in the CEO's head," Flowers stated.
3. Driving a Cultural Transformation
The chief people officer is responsible for helping an organization build a successful culture. As such, he or she may need to drive a cultural transformation to help an ordinary organization become an industry leader, Flowers said.
"Culture drives success. It's that secret sauce," he noted.
Moreover, the chief people officer must understand his or her role in helping an organization develop a successful culture, Flowers pointed out. If the chief people officer embraces this role, he or she can help foster a cultural transformation that extends throughout all departments.
"The chief HR executive is the architect of the culture, and the CEO is the implementer of the culture," Flowers indicated. "You don't just talk about culture change. You have to intentionally do things."
4. How to Foster a Successful Relationship with a CEO
Building a long-lasting relationship with a CEO can be exceedingly difficult, Flowers stated.
"You can't have a tactical mindset. The mindset has to be strategic, and you have to be able to get into [the CEO's] head."
If a CEO is unwilling to listen to the chief people officer, problems may arise that prevent an organization from growing. In fact, this CEO may do more harm than good for an organization, as he or she will fail to help an organization engage top talent, stay connected to employees and build trust with workers.
On the other hand, the chief people officer must go above and beyond the call of duty to foster a successful relationship with the CEO, Flowers said.
Together, the chief people officer and CEO can help an organization build from within. And if the chief people officer constantly illustrates his or her value to the CEO, the chief people officer-CEO relationship will ensure an organization thrive both now and in the future.
"Help [the CEO] understand the power and impact of relationships. This is a delicate step," Flowers said. "You have to get in to the CEO, explain the value and create that relationship. You have to keep trying to create that relationship."
Ed W. Flowers was named Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources for World Kitchen, LLC in December, 2011. In this role he provides leadership globally for Human Resources across the firm, with a primary responsibility for Executive Compensation, Total Rewards, Talent Management/Organizational Capability and Employee Engagement strategies that will provide a competitive human capital advantage for World Kitchen.
Ed Flowers brings with him over 25 years as a human resources professional in the Consumer Package Goods, Life Sciences, Advanced Technology and Sports industries. He has significant experience as a human resources business partner in a range of specific areas including human resources strategy, acquisition integration, executive compensation, organizational design and development, talent management/succession planning, executive coaching and performance management.
Prior to joining World Kitchen, LLC Mr. Flowers was Executive Vice President & Managing Partner at DHR International.
Previous to DHR International, Mr. Flowers was the Corporate Senior Vice President of Human Resources & CHRO for publically traded $2B Russell Corporation (acquired by Berkshire Hathaway). There, he was responsible for the overall global human resources function for the corporation’s 16,000 employees reporting to the CEO.
Previous to Russell, Mr. Flowers was the Global Vice President of Human Resources for privately held Merisant Company (spun off from Monsanto). At Monsanto he served as Global Vice President of Human Resources for 15,000 employees at Monsanto’s $6B Agriculture Sector and Dairy SBU’s where he was responsible for their global human resources.
Previous to Monsanto, Mr. Flowers was in several senior level roles at Unisys Corporation for 10 years in Detroit, MI, and Bluebell, PA.
Angela Mancuso is the Chief People Officer at Pampered Chef. Pampered Chef is a Berkshire Hathaway company, and a leading provider of personalized, inspirational cooking solutions. The company has blossomed into a multimillion dollar, international enterprise with hundreds of employees and products, and 40,000 field consultants who sell our products directly to customers in the U.S., Canada and Germany.
As Chief People Officer and member of the executive team, Angela is the primary architect of building and enhancing an internal culture for our 450 coworkers that is anchored on engagement, collaboration, communication and performance. She also leads our talent development and recruitment strategies, shapes our benefit and rewards programs and influences career growth and professional development initiatives across the company.
Prior to joining Pampered Chef in July 2015, Angela served as Head of HR for a growing digital sports broadcasting start-up based in Chicago, overseeing all development and implementation of HR programs impacting 300 employees. Angela spent eight years as the human resources leader for Paylocity, a Chicagoland-based software-as-a-service (SAAS) payroll software company that grew from 70 to 800 employees during her tenure.
She is active in the HR community, where she is passionate about employee engagement and has participated in panels and conferences for Best Places to Work & Glassdoor. Angela lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and five boys.