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How to Succeed as an HR Newbie In a Department of One

How should people new to the HR field, especially in a department of one, think about their roles and processes?

September 28th, 2022


Today’s HR departments are expected to be strategic partners of their organizations, not just administrative back-end support. Keeping that in mind, how should people new to the HR field, especially in a department of one, think about their roles and processes?

We asked experienced HR managers and CEOs this question for their best insights. From prioritizing and automating to connecting with mentors, there are several ways to best handle the top challenges. Here are five tips to help you thrive in your role.

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Connect With Mentors to Accelerate Your Learning

There are multiple challenges with being a solo HR professional at an organization and even more if you are new to HR. It Is important to find a network of senior HR professionals that you will be able to talk to when you run into obstacles. Helping your organization understand that it is more important to be thorough than fast will help you be able to walk through tricky situations with your mentors and bounce ideas off of them. Getting an HR Coach or joining a Mastermind Group are easy ways to put you in direct connection with HR leaders who can help accelerate your learning and growth.

Lastly, helping your organization understand that HR’s function as a business partner is to ensure that employees have the best employee experience possible will help you establish your place as an employee advocate and ensure that company compliance is a byproduct of the employee-focused HR strategies that you implement.

Tamica Sears, Sears Coaching

Build Up Tools and Processes to Help Your Managers Manage Their Teams

Managing managers can be a challenge, especially if you are the only or first HR person in the company. Still, if you can build up tools and processes that can help your managers with people management processes, this will give them a place to start when it comes to managing their team. So implementing, one on one reviews, giving out praise where appropriate, and setting goals.

These processes will help you determine the next best step from these direct reports. These reports from your management will make it easier for you to ensure that everyone, from employees to managers, is getting the correct promotions, raises, compensation, and performance reviews that can help with training and development. Managing the managers and effectively helping them manage their employees in their best interests can be difficult, but using these tools will help you as the only HR person and everybody else involved.

Wendy Makinson, Joloda Hydraroll

Strengthen Employee Engagement

If you’re new to HR, one of the best ways to handle the challenges of your job is to ensure that you strengthen employee engagement in the organization. Create unique employee experiences. Encourage employees to check out company volunteer opportunities, enabling different departments to work together, and support a worthy cause. Focus on serving the individuals in your company as best you can, gaining their loyalty. Tackle HR challenges head-on, guaranteeing success for the organization and everyone in it.

Lilian Chen, Bar None Games

Keep Up With Government Rules and Regulations

Ensure that you have a high level of understanding of HR compliance with government rules and regulations. To do this, consistently review the US Department of Labor’s website for updated regulations that your company should be aware of. Especially as the only HR person at a company, it is essential that you protect both the company and you from any potential penalties or fines by making sure there is full adherence across the organization.

Jason McNary, Brandon Blackwood

Build Trust and Open Communication Through One-on-One Chats

If you’re new to HR and the only HR person in the company, take time to get to know all the team members through one-on-one chats with each employee. Allot 15 minutes at the most for each person, and keep it casual and friendly but not too familiar. This process may take a few weeks, depending on the size of your organization.

Your goal is to become more comfortable and familiar with the employees, their roles in the organization, how they relate with each other, and other information helpful to your HR role. This informal meeting will also let employees get to know you and your role in relation to theirs. It will open doors to more trust and open communication. Once you’ve done this, it will be more apparent which HR procedures and systems are essential to work on first.

Ruth Novales, Fortis Medical Billing Professionals

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