We live in a world of “make it work.” When there’s no oregano, we substitute rosemary. Or when we have a cold, we take a Dayquil and get ready to tackle the day. When our company grows too fast, we piece together an HR function. You’ll notice that one of these things is not like the other. The first two will affect your pasta sauce or how alert you are. The third may determine if your company will go out of business or still be able to win government contracts.
While we love to see our clients promote from within, it is common for us to actually meet our clients when the strain of having anywhere from one to four people “making it work” becomes too much for the organization. From a functional perspective, promoting from within is a good thing and makes sense. We often take software developers and make them supervisors of a team. Or take supervisors and make them directors. Where we run into trouble is crossing that functional line. For example, we take a quality control specialist who is smart, agile, and hardworking and make them an HR representative.
With 10 -20 employees, HR is mostly about I-9s, tax forms and getting people on the payroll. As your organization grows near the 50 person threshold, the HR issues, both for the individuals and the organization, are more complex and require a depth and breadth of HR knowledge. Individuals who don’t possess the HR professional and technical body of knowledge may struggle to overcome these obstacles.
3 Common Problems for People Who are Promoted to HR
Problem 1: They don’t know what they don’t know…
In the last year, there have been changes to OFCCP compliance, the definition of a spouse, minimum wage and wage reporting, marijuana legality, and more – and some of that is specific to the DMV area. Seasoned HR professionals know where to find the information, how to analyze it, and what questions to ask to make sure we continue to protect our organizations. Having someone on your team who can take the regulations, analyze them, and execute the appropriate actions is vital to ensuring you can continue to do business with the knowledge that your liability has been reduced as much as possible.
Problem 2: And, they don’t know who to ask.
At Helios, we are lucky to have an entire team of HR and recruiting professionals to rely on. Our team of 30, possesses the expertise, insight, and guidance to effectively respond to our clients’ HR questions and concerns. Additionally, each of our team members has an extensive network of HR colleagues to reach out to for additional support. If your HR team doesn’t have a background in the field, or a network that brings the expertise, the right questions aren’t being asked. Your company’s compliance liability is significantly increased, and the worst part is that you probably aren’t even aware.
Problem 3: You’ve taken a rock star off the stage.
The story we commonly hear about HR is that there was someone who was smart, agile, and hardworking. They needed a new challenge or were willing to help. This is great news! You have engaged employees who want to make your business better. By offering them this challenge, however, you have taken a great performer out of their field of expertise. By tacking on the additional struggle of “figuring out” their new job, you may drive down engagement and send their frustrations into hyper drive.
Having aspects of a homegrown HR presence isn’t always a bad thing. Someone internal knows where your company has come from and how the culture has matured over the years. By tapping into, but not hijacking, some of your most valuable resources, the HR partner you identify will be able to hit the ground running with a great deal of historical knowledge and passion.