How to use Culture Amp data to hire the best Chief People Officer

It’s hard to hire a modern HR executive. A leader whose views and practices are rooted in 21st Century HR. One who can truly transform your business with their business acumen and ability to align the people organization to drive organizational goals.

I spent most of my career as a practitioner and have been running Amplify, an HR Executive Search and Consulting firm, for the past 5 years. In the 20 years I’ve spent in the field I’ve had the pleasure of working for, with, and alongside many “new school” people executives. They’re a new profile from their predecessors, often coming from different areas of the business and infusing the HR function with diverse experience and capabilities.

Recently I worked with a client, SocialCode, who was hiring their first Chief People Officer. They were looking for an experienced executive who had led organizations through growth phases and embraced the role of people advocate and thought partner to the executive team.

How Culture Amp engagement survey data was used in the CPO hiring process

As we discussed how we’d structure the interview process, their COO John Alderman suggested we share their most recent Culture Amp survey with candidates so they’d have a more detailed view of the organization’s culture, internal positioning, strengths, and opportunities. John shared his views on why sharing the culture survey was important.

"Finding the best person for the job is as much about candidates getting to know us as it is about us getting to know them. The best outcomes come about when there's the most information shared. In our recent search for a Chief People Officer, we went with complete transparency and shared the results of our internal engagement survey with candidates. It served two purposes: the candidates got to know us and, by seeing how they responded to the results, and we learned about how they think."

As John stated the aim of sharing the survey was twofold. SocialCode embraces transparency and data and wanted to be consistent with those values. They also felt it would inform candidates and allow for far more meaningful and substantive discussions based on the current pulse of the organization. I found this level of openness refreshing, and expected candidates would as well.

What candidates thought about reviewing engagement survey data

As we kicked off the interview process those views were echoed by many of the candidates. The survey provided a line of sight that most organizations don’t provide in the interview process. It allowed them to have honest conversations about the current state of the organization.

As the Chief People Officer is on the front lines (and in many cases responsible for leading) many of components of the Culture Amp survey, it allowed candidates to determine upfront how their skills, experience, and interests aligned with the needs and priorities of this particular role - or not.

The latter is as important as the former. Not all Chief People Officer roles are the same. While most share common core skills and required experience, the specific needs of the business will determine which skills and experience will be most valuable in helping them drive the outcomes they need.

Finding the right CPO for your company

Interview processes for roles at this level should be designed in a way that allows candidates to make as informed a decision as possible. Including the Culture Amp survey helped SocialCode achieve that. SocialCode’s new Chief People Officer, Stephanie Fogle, agrees.

“During my interview process for a Chief People Officer role I was exposed to a variety of management teams, boards of directors, company cultures, and varying needs of People functions - and that helped me focus my decision criteria. The companies that shared engagement survey results ended up at the top of my list. By sharing results, SocialCode showed me that they value employee engagement and want to do better every day. I was able to gain more insight into the company, its areas of celebration, and its focus areas. The transparency of it all helped me understand how the executive team operates and what's important to them.”

The transparent approach allowed SocialCode to hire a seasoned HR executive whose experience, strengths, and approach closely aligned with their business.

More companies should do this - and not just for HR executive roles. I know I’ll be encouraging Culture Amp customers to mirror this approach on future HR executive searches. I think the benefits gained by all are clear enablers of a successful outcome for both parties.


Lars SchmidtLars Schmidt is the Founder of Amplify, a 21st Century HR executive search and consulting firm that helps companies build progressive people teams and prepare for the future of work. His experience includes industry-leading companies like Ticketmaster, NPR, SpaceX, Hootsuite, and Duo Security. Lars is also the Co-Founder of the HR Open Source (HROS.co) initiative.

He’s a writer with regular columns in Fast Company and Forbes, co-author of Employer Branding for Dummies (Wiley, 2017), and global speaker. You can find him on Twitter at @Lars.

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