As the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) position emerges in both government and industry, what should be the essential attributes of such an individual? To help us answer this question, we can look at the attributes of Chief Knowledge Officers that compare favorably to the characteristics that a CHCO should possess. Robert Neilson, who works on the role of a CKO at the National Defense University, believes that the competencies that make a successful CKO are: communications (storyteller, avid communicator); strategic thinking; tools and techniques; personal behavior; personal knowledge and cognitive capability; leadership and management. Specifically, Neilson identifies the following necessary personal attributes for a CKO: passion, patience, persistence, sensitivity, organizational savvy, smart, wise, lifelong learner, thick-skinned, integrator, and depth and breadth of knowledge.
A Chief Human Capital Officer should also possess many of the same traits as the CKO; however, some of the major responsibilities would include: aligning human capital management and services with the strategic plan; monitoring human capital performance; advising the CEO/Secretary on human capital issues; consulting with and advising senior officers; reviewing human capital data analyses. A Chief Human Capital Officer exists for the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The CHCO would be responsible for developing and implementing reliable measures for self-assessment and improvement. The CHCO would be the focal point for the execution of workforce planning and development: attracting and retaining key talent; developing world-class leaders, managers, and supervisors; and creating a work environment where employees are empowered and challenged to perform their best.
How would the role of a CHCO differ from that of a Human Resources Director? One of the major differences is the strategic perspective and long-term view that the CHCO would have over the more operational view of a Human Resources Director. Linking the organization's strategic goals to its human capital investments and developing a "learning" organization are two primary responsibilities that the CHCO would have that may distinguish this position from that of a Human Resources Director. Establishing a workforce development strategy for the organization is an important activity that the CHCO would undertake.