HR 101- Survival Guide

Tim Sackett Bad HR, Business Development, Career Paths, Communication, Good HR, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice, Influence, Tim Sackett

Over the holidays I got a chance to speak with a green-as-grass, brand new HR Pro.  It was fun to speak with someone who has all that new-job passion and naiveté around HR.  It got me excited to have the conversation.  The one thing she really wanted to know was what I would do to be successful in her spot. That took some digging, because I needed to know her specific situation to know how I would tackle what she was facing.

Some others overheard our conversation and said, “You guys should write a HR Survival Guide.” So, here it is, my HR 101 Survival Guide for New HR Pros:

Step 1: Make sure people get paid correctly, every time.  This seems super simple, but the reality is, most of the bad publicity HR gets is when someone’s pay or benefits get screwed up.  Fix this, and most of your bad publicity goes away.

HR 101 Pro Tip: This is expected from you; you won’t get credit for doing it well. It can only be a negative for doing it wrong.

Step 2: Not being staffed correctly will be your second biggest issue.  People getting paid and benefits working?  Okay, now get your organization staffed up.  You can’t design performance management processes, or focus on employee engagement when you’re not staffed properly.

HR 101 Pro Tip: Get your leadership comfortable with the concept of never being fully staffed. Once you fill your open positions, you need upgrades. Never stop recruiting and interviewing, even when you have no open positions.

Step 3:  Learn what your business does and what their major pain points are.  Yeah, you got hired in HR, but you need to have deep understanding about what and how your organization does what it does, before you can truly help in HR.

 HR 101 Pro Tip: Spend more time outside of your office than in, connecting with all parts of your organization in the first 30 days.  You have a small window of time in which your operations people will form an opinion of you, and you’ll never get a second chance at that.

Step 4: Prioritize new HR processes and programs based on what your leadership feels needs to be done, not what you feel needs to be done. Your leadership might not have the first clue of what really needs to be done in HR, but they know what they’ll support you doing.

HR 101 Pro Tip: Do what they want, first, and you are more likely to get support on the stuff you want, later.

Step 5: Finds things to measure that have direct business impact and hold yourself, and your team, accountable to them.

 HR 101 Pro Tip: Make your measures and your results very public, good and bad.  If leadership questions why you’re measuring something, and it takes more than seven words to respond with an answer, stop measure that thing. 

I think this is a good start.  It’s basic. It’s supposed to be basic—it’s 101.  What advice would you give a new HR Pro?