It is a fact. Not every small business is sizable enough to be able to afford a full-time certified HR professional. My manufacturing company is a bonafide “Mom & Pop”. And as any small business or startup knows, you wear many hats! HR is one of them. My design degrees did not prepare me for the business world very much. Much less HR. I learned the process of designing & marketing. Running a small business for 10 years has been “baptism by fire.” I do have some great support on the numbers side with my business partner / husband whose background is environmental engineering & safety. Coupled with an MBA (he had a few HR classes), he can tell me if my business head is full of shit. But, he is not the people person in the equation. That is me. I’m sure you can now make some assumptions about how we divide up our Human Resources roles in the business. And we cover the bases well. We have reached out for help. We discover quickly when we are over our heads.
My biggest perk as a SHRM member is to have access to experts and literature. I idolize people who are experts in their field. I am realistic that I cannot be an expert at everything. I know my core competency as an individual. Ummm… it is not HR. I also feel that a major strategy to successfully navigate running a business is to always assume there might be a better way. I am always learning, reading, observing. I love case studies. I hate paperwork. I love using SHRM’s HR forms a starting point to help me understand how to organize my employee relations, onboarding and retention. With every SHRM luncheon lecture and conference I add to my bag of tricks. With every blog read or interaction with my social media network I gain some nugget of knowledge that helps me make less mistakes. I am also realistic that mistakes will be made. And I also observe the mistakes of vendors. Hoping to not repeat issues that bug me, like employee turnover.
Dumb it Down
Not like “d-u-m” dumb. But, there are parts of the HR equations that are daunting. Labor relations, the legal system, distractions of employees’ personal lives and absenteeism, risk management and government regulations. We have mostly hourly line positions. But, still have to manage web/internet and product component vendors. We can even get swept into subcontractor’s HR issues. I hate that. But, the worst thing we can do when growing our business is take a “put out the fire” position with HR. I know, because of my amazing HR online network that we must continue to align our Human Resources objectives with our business growth. I think emphasis on concrete objectives, actionable HR strategies, can turn heads in the “owner’s box”. What are HR’s objectives? Dumb it down for me please. Show me stats. Give me examples with results that make me want to go deeper.
Mistakes Shorten the Learning Curve
Examples don’t all have to be these rosy outcomes. Lay down the dirt. Trench HR is the meat. You white collar recruiters and HR software tool developers are entertaining and all. But, I need stories about docked pay, employing someone with criminal record, illegal aliens, OSHA inspectors, personal injury, family leave, rights violations and what happens when you screw up those situations. Amongst others. I have a healthy respect for what can go wrong. When you are a small business it can be devastating. I don’t need scare tactics though. Just sound advice and real examples. I hate to hear “What? You don’t do that?” But, sometimes it is what you need to hear. Damn rules.
When Certification is a Necessity to Make a Buck
I have never looked for a punch list that would flag a need for a certified HR professional. Though I’m sure it exists. Business tends to think about it in terms of number of employees we serve. Or we think about HR in terms of risk management. While my employee numbers might not align for even part-time HR services, I’m sure there are businesses out there teetering on the edge of hiring or needing more than part-time help. There are many uncertified, but no doubt qualified people, working in the HR function in businesses world wide. I would love to hear from them or business owners or from HR managers that were hired on by a small, growing company. What pushes a business to the point of hiring an HR Manager? It is a numbers game to be sure.
I’m in this for the long haul as a pro-hr business owner. When the time comes to implement HR at a higher level I want to have the budget and resources and a big picture understanding. I don’t want to be the executive that brings it on because of some problem. The panic. You’ve seen it. I want to transition because of efficiency and employee growth. Efficiency adds to the bottom line. Any advice to prepare now for that transition would be a fantastic thing to offer up to any non-hr person or business owner still trying to do HR ourselves so we can make a buck. SHRM membership is an asset. Especially for small business. I wish more businesses knew that. Might be a marketing direction for SHRM to make a buck? How can SHRM do a better job growing membership for non-HR?
Come join me in the tweet stream to discuss this topic “How to Help Non-HR people do HR” at the next twitter #SHRMCHAT. You can catch the conversation on twitter Tuesday May 8th 8pm EST/ 7pm CST. Check out the next show summary or last show Recap Here with your host Joan Ginsberg.
Shamleess SHRM plug – The 2013 TN SHRM Conference is officially calling for speakers. Let me know if you need the contact to submit your info! Thanks for reading.