10 Signs You’ve Outgrown Your HR Person

I spent Spring Break outside of Austin, Texas. It was chill. Everyone was recovering from SXSW or from the crowd of non-Texans who invaded the city.

Austin is an amazing place and home to everything from 1-2 person start-ups to multinationals. There are also a number of small organizations. These companies started out with fewer than 50 employees–and now are hitting 100-250 employees. They are realizing things aren’t exactly like they used to be when everyone fit in the CEO’s garage.

Growth is an awesome thing, unless your infrastructure and people stuff hasn’t kept up. Here’s when you know you’ve outgrown your “HR” person:

  1. When one of the 2014 HR priorities is adding “no wedges” to the dress code.
  2. When your HR person shows up to the Executive Committee meeting with a Trapper Keeper.
  3. When your talent acquisition strategy consists of fluorescent colored flyers at the local community college.
  4. When asked about employee development the response is: “I picked up library cards for everyone.”
  5. When the culture discussion starts with a question of cheddar or monterey jack cheese for the break room.
  6. When your HR person tells you there’s a problem; and it turns out to be the receptionist has on glitter nail polish.
  7. When your HR person feels compelled to send out “motivational” quotes of the day.
  8. When March Madness is more about getting your HR person on Xanax vs. basketball.
  9. When St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Beer Friday turn up on the approved PTO list.
  10. And finally, when you start to hear Miley Cyrus blasting from the HR office.

If you’ve nodded your

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head to at least 3 of these signs, you probably need to beef up on what HR PROS are really doing these days. They are developing/expanding your employment brand; identifying and customizing development of emerging leaders; taking charge of your M&A strategy; presenting to industry groups on your talent retention efforts… they are leading and driving results across your business.

The easy solution is to promote your office manager. The right solution is to upgrade your HR talent.

Now come on–hit me with some other signs. I know you’re dying to put out there in the comments!

FOT Background Check

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ, where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent or HR Consultants to drive business results.  Prior to joining hrQ, Kathy booked more than 15 years of human resources leadership experience working for such companies as Morgan Stanley and First Data Corporation.  A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent issues can be addressed via the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen  (David Lee/Sammy and sadly, Gary Cherone).


  1. Taryn says:

    Hilarious. Here’s a few more (and yes I have experienced this)

    1. When culture equals more beer or a logo t-shirt.
    2. When the discussion of performance management leads to a requirement that all team members leave post – its on their monitors if they leave before 5pm.
    3. When the retention strategy is to send threatening letters to the companies that have hired away your talent.
    4. When bagel day is listed as key achievement
    5. When talent acquisition strategy is doubling your spend on Monster postings.

  2. Linda says:

    Hey, I urgently needed a new notebook and Trappers were all they had at Duane Reade! Don’t hate on the Trapper!

    • Kathy Rapp says:

      Linda – As long as the one you got didn’t have a kitten on it….I’m cool

  3. How about the reverse? How to know when you haven’t grown into your HR person?

    • Kathy Rapp says:

      Sounds like material for another post – and probably just as many examples of this scenario!

  4. Shanon Wynonna says:

    I’ve started at a large company, so these signs are unfamiliar to me, unfortunately, but I did sense something immensely funny was coming up, so I read the article. I wish I had started like this, so I can have memories of small things that made my whole day. You would expect people to change and go with the flow, though, usually more people means more to share and the primordial group’s dilution.

    • Kathy Rapp says:

      Oh Shanon – Some of these are real examples from F500 companies unfortunately!

  5. HRBP says:

    Hard to believe that HR professionals are doing any of the listed above. I found this article to be a waste of my time.

    • Maggie Elkin says:

      I know that it is hard to believe, but I have seen it at many companies. Most of time time, this happens because the company promotes the office manager after, maybe, sending him or her to an HR course. To be fair, human resources can go from being a tactical function to a strategic function overnight (one big sale away) and it can be difficult to find a true generalist with a high-level of business acumen and the ability to build an HR organization from a tactical function to a highly strategic one that fits your culture without an excellent recruiter (either internal or external).

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