AAA Future of Work HR Remix

What is the Best Advice For a New HR Pro?

Whether you have entered the world of HR deliberately or by happenstance HR is a great place to be:

Few jobs will give you the opportunity to learn about the different aspects of your company and how they work together.

Few jobs will give you as much exposure to senior leaders in the company.

And even fewer will give you all the above and the opportunity to help people at the best and worst times in their life.

So what advice can I give you? I don’t know if this is the best advice but I can say that keeping this in mind has never steered me wrong:

It is never about HR.   

It’s about people, the company, the business, customers, shareholders, stakeholders and numerous other factors but it is never about HR.  What does that mean? A couple examples below:

Example 1: Don’t become the policy police

I don’t like the word policy. People hear the word policy and think “the policy” is sacred and cannot be modified. This is usually where trouble starts for HR pros new and seasoned. Do not adopt the mindset that a policy must be adhered to at all costs.

When an employee is trying to save you money or genuinely needs an exception don’t automatically fall back on the HR policy.  Use your common sense. Remember it isn’t about HR’s policy it’s about people, the company and the business

Example 2: You want new/better/updated technology/systems/whatever

HR doesn’t need a new Applicant Tracking System (ATS) because we are pulling our hair out tracking down paper.  Instead, HR needs a new ATS because it will give the company greater insight into where recruiting dollars are being spent, where candidates are being sourced from, how long it takes to fill a position and numerous other data points that are vital to keeping a company staffed with great talent.

Is your desire to stop tracking down paper and getting paper cuts important? Of course.  But the CEO doesn’t care that HR is tracking down paper like its 1985, instead she wants to know how this capital expenditure will help the business.  Emphasize that.

In case that advice didn’t make the “best” cut, here are a couple other things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t hang out with just HR people at work.
  • Be friendly and smile at others.
  • Remember if you can’t get the little things right, no one will trust you with the big things.
  • Ask questions.

What do you think? What advice would you give to a newbie HR pro? 

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4 comments

sbrownehr August 12, 2013 at 8:37 am

My best advice is to get to know all of your employees by name. I don’t care if you have 100 folks or thousands. People need to be treated like people and you can’t do that if you don’t even know their name !! It may seem simple, but most HR pros blow by this every day. If you make HR personal as you start your career, it will be personal for you forever.

Melissa August 13, 2013 at 6:20 am

Great advice. Thanks Steve!

Kyle Jones August 24, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I agree, Steve. No one wants to be just a number.

Kyle Jones August 24, 2013 at 11:36 pm

I think it is also important to network, network, network. I’d be curious to know how many HR pros are placed into the HR role by upper management and not by choice. Yes, HR is a rewarding experience but – especially if not by choice – networking is key to survival and success.

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