In many small and even medium sized businesses across the US, individuals with no background or education in HR are managing the HR function. Mostly out of necessity. The business doesn’t need (or thinks it needs) full time HR support, but they do need HR “things” so the function gets lumped in with office management or finance.
I get it and won’t rehash the reasons again why this may not be the best idea. That blog post also has great ideas for companies to ensure the individual covering HR gets the training and support they need, but I know companies don’t always listen, so for this blog post I’m going to offer advice to the individual directly.
If you are not a trained HR professional, but have been tasked with the HR function and feel like you are lost, here are a few key pieces of advice. Specifically, advice for the individual who isn’t getting much support from their company in ensuring they receive the training they need.
Thankfully, the internet has proven itself very useful over the years in helping individuals gain knowledge they never had before. Unfortunately, there can be so much contradictory information that it’s hard to know what is true and what isn’t. That’s why I encourage HR professionals to follow bloggers and online personalities who they trust and feel confident provide truthful information. I believe those are lawyers and HR professionals who have been in the trenches a while. I have three that I like. Two lawyers, Eric Meyer and Jon Hyman. They will keep you updated on all the new stuff happening in the court system and how your business can avoid ending up there yourself. For a compliance HR blogger, there is none better than my friend Mike Haberman. Even I have his site bookmarked for when I have compliance questions and I’ve been doing this a while.
For California specific, because let’s face it, we be crazy on the west coast, I like the lawyers blog at Seyforth Shaw, aptly named: The California Peculiarities Employment Law Blog
Focus on Compliance:
There is a lot that goes into effective HR strategy, but if you are wearing many hats, chances are slim you have any time to do most of them well. Make sure you are legally compliant and stay that way and leave the intrinsic valued HR projects to when you have time or have the budget to have help.
Decide your Goals:
This one is big. About half of my clients have an office manager as my point of contact. They are the individual handling HR, but call me in for outsourcing or coaching of that person or special projects. Out of those clients, only a few of those people actually have any interest in HR. They are just trying to get by until they have the budget to hire their own HR person and can pass this stuff off. The others like the HR piece and can’t wait to hire someone to take the other stuff so they can focus on HR.
If you can decide which part of your role fits your best, then you can work towards making that your only job as time and budgets allow. That isn’t to say you should put more effort into that piece, it’s just to say that if you have the opportunity for extra training or coaching, you want it to be in the area you want to end up, not the area that you are in now that you aren’t enjoying.
Hopefully wearing multiple hats is only temporary and soon you will be able to focus on one area while others take things off your plate. I realize it may not come soon enough, but most small businesses get their faster than they realize. Keep doing what you can do, focus on what matters and let time play itself out.