Growth Frameworks

Elevating People Strategy to the C-Suite

The fight to attract, hire and retain great talent has never been tougher, and the current environment adds even more complexity to the challenge. As organizations continue to navigate an increasingly competitive and dynamic talent landscape, we find that many growth companies are taking a more strategic approach to human capital by investing in a C-level talent leader that can make a meaningful business impact.

For rapid growth companies, hiring and retaining the right talent at all levels is critical to delivering sustainable growth and outpacing the competition. Hiring a Chief People Officer (CPO) sends a strong signal to your team – and to individuals you’re recruiting – that your organization prioritizes its people. An effective CPO can help your organization navigate the challenges of hiring and onboarding across geographies and hybrid environments; think creatively about your recruiting pipeline and process; increase the quality, diversity and velocity of candidates flowing into your recruiting engine; and work to ensure that you are setting your team up for success and getting the most from your talent once they are on board. At Summit, we’ve helped many of our portfolio companies recruit people strategy leaders, and we’ve found that the most successful share a common set of attributes.

Salesperson and Storyteller

The most effective Chief People Officers we’ve worked with have a skillset that’s more often associated with sales leaders than with traditional human resources roles. They are strong communicators with a deep understanding of your product and an ability to authentically articulate the value proposition of your business. On the talent acquisition front, the CPO is selling an incredibly sophisticated product – a career transition – to highly discerning ”customers” who increasingly understand that the interview process is as much about finding the right opportunity for themselves as it is about demonstrating their qualifications as candidates.  CPOs must have the ability to internalize your company’s story and convey it in a way that excites and motivates candidates to join in your growth journey. In effectively telling these stories, CPOs are better positioned to access and attract passive candidates – individuals who are successful and happy in their current roles and are not actively looking to make a change. Top CPOs thrive in building these relationships and expanding networks – they are constantly working to fill the talent funnel.

Culture Champion

Establishing a strong culture and maintaining that culture as your organization grows is a key part of any successful talent strategy and takes on an even greater importance in an increasingly competitive talent landscape. Your company is unique, and your Chief People Officer should play a central role in helping to articulate and reinforce that culture, both with prospective employees and current team members – and in reinforcing continuity of culture across geographies and hybrid settings. As uncertainties around world events abound, CPOs understand the importance of connecting the work of your team to the mission of your organization, enabling team members to recognize the importance of their contributions. Effective CPOs understand the powerful impact that strong employee relationships and a positive culture can have on the recruitment funnel and later, the employee experience. They recognize that when great employees do elect to leave, your culture and the positive experience it creates can result in a productive network of referral sources and, in best case scenarios, help drive the boomerang effect of bringing your strongest employees back to your team.

Strategic Partner

As a key member of the executive team, the Chief People Officer will have a comprehensive understanding of your company’s organizational goals. This perspective ensures that talent acquisition and human capital management priorities are designed and executed in a strategically consistent way that works within the framework of today’s constantly evolving landscape. A skilled CPO creates scalable and repeatable processes at every step of the employee life cycle, from recruitment to exit. They recognize the strategic importance of an inclusive culture in retaining talent. They measure success with data and analytics, and they make decisions with business outcomes in mind. A great CPO will push back on existing ways of doing things and recommend new and creative approaches – all in the service of attracting, retaining and fully leveraging the talent that you need to execute on your growth agenda.

Many leaders agree that people are their company’s most important asset, but an effective human capital strategy must go beyond headcount costs and hiring decisions. The ongoing impact of COVID and the ensuing “great resignation” has only increased the complexity of building and managing teams, and amplified the importance of creating an inclusive environment where diverse team members can thrive. This is where a strategic talent leader can have the greatest impact. The right Chief People Officer will not only help you attract top talent but will work to ensure that your team is engaged, empowered and productive as your company scales.

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Cae Keys

On the importance of people strategy

“The current environment has not only amplified the importance of having an effective, cohesive human capital strategy, but also raised the complexity of executing it. Today’s talent leaders are navigating an increasingly competitive and volatile operating environment; we believe the very best are finding new and creative ways to expand and diversify candidate pools, hire and onboard, and extend and improve their company cultures to include and empower employees across the organization.”

Dayton Ogden
, Head of Talent and Recruiting, Summit Partners

Related Experience

The content herein reflects the views of Summit Partners and is intended for executives and operators considering partnering with Summit Partners. For a complete list of Summit investments, please click here.

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