Are you new to Human Resources? Each of us started somewhere. There are differences in employment and the right path depends on whether you start an HR department from scratch or if you join an existing department as an HR employee of one. There are also differences if you become a member of a department with additional HR employees or if you are the only HR employee on staff. Every situation brings its special challenges.
Every new HR professional must evaluate the needs of his employees and organization and identify the most efficient way to use his knowledge and experience to serve the goals of his organization. This is the approach that you would follow if you started an HR department from scratch, regardless of whether you are new to the job or experienced. The learning curve for the latter will be less steep but still challenging.
We had previously given tips on how a novice HR professional best base can put your career in the HR profession. These tips also serve as a reminder for experienced professionals at any time in your career.
Starting an HR department from Scratch
This is the path that you must follow to succeed in your search for a new HR department. On the day you start your new job, talk to your manager about her guidance on the organization's priorities for their new department.
She will probably also have her expectations of your position.
During the interview process, you were informed about why the organization had decided that they need an HR department. But this is the day to clarify that you share a picture of the expectations and results that your efforts should produce with your boss.
If you are lucky, your new organization may have a written job specification or job description to guide your steps. But in organizations that do not have an HR department, this is generally left to individual managers, payroll and accounting. You must, therefore, create your onboarding process. (I recommend a 60-120-day plan that your boss can help you make.)
As a new HR employee, you must learn quickly and understand what processes and systems there is that affect HR. The first systems to understand are how employees are paid and benefit from the benefits. Employees will soon come to you with their questions.
After paying attention to your onboarding and any direct goals of your manager for a few days, you would like to contact the appropriate accounting staff to find out more about how employees are paid. You will also need to learn about benefits for yourself and so that you can help employees.
Within a few months or depending on the time of year, you must ask the finance department to be involved in any discussion about the selection of benefits and allowances. This has traditionally been a shared role that combines the needs of staff with financial expertise.
This is an easier step if your HR position reports to the Finance and Accounting manager - where many HR jobs report to start. She will be committed to your success because of the department. But the step must happen if you report somewhere else.
Learn the priorities and concerns of other departments
Meet the other executive staff to understand the priorities of the entire senior team organization. This is easier for some organizations than others. While you have marching orders from your direct manager, you need to know the priorities and concerns of the other departments. HR is on board to serve them all.
If you have been transferred to this HR function from another domain in the same organization, you already know these people. If you are new, even if you have the experience, this is an important step in understanding the needs and priorities of the organization.
Get acquainted with a cross-section of the managers and employees that the managers have recommended for an interview. These employees can teach you a lot - quickly - about the organization you have joined. Never assume that the views of the managers are on the goal. They view the world through a different lens than regular employees.
In the meantime, you will find that other employees have found you. They want to spend time with you out of curiosity or with questions. When a new HR department is formed, the accumulated demand and the need for HR can overload the new HR employee.
Employees are looking for someone with whom they can talk, who they can trust and who can tell all the secrets, stories and problems of the organization. Listen carefully and you learn about the problems and needs of your new organization. Use the time to get to know your new colleagues and their views to deepen your knowledge and ability to contribute.
Put an HR plan together and build alliances
Put together an HR plan. Share your HR plan with your boss to ensure that this person supports the goals and plans that you develop. She must agree and support the plan to have some hope of success. Building a good alliance and succeeding in a positive office policy makes the involvement of your boss wise at every step of your planning and implementation.
Do not be unrealistic in the goals you pursue in your first 90-120 days in your new HR department. Start early to help your manager understand when you think you can take a certain step. Trade-in takes place regardless of the order of your priorities. You cannot do everything at once, although it may seem that that is the expectation.