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Lori Kleiman
  May 10, 2018

5 Tips for the New HR Department of One

When you first enter the world of business as an HR Department of One (or DOO, as I like to call it), it can be intimidating. There is a lot to do and seemingly not enough time to do it. The chaos surrounding the HR DOO is overwhelming, to say the least.

Don’t get overwhelmed as the new #HR department of one by following these great #tips.

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Use the following 5 tips to make your transition into this new role much easier.

1. Educate Yourself

One of the very first things you should do–before and even after you become an HR Department of One–is to educate yourself. It doesn’t need to be anything wildly expensive or time-consuming; just some great, basic education will suffice. SHRM courses are online and very accessible. You can also look at your community college.  

Here is what I would recommend:

First, join your local SHRM chapter. Not only is it great networking, but they bring in top speakers that provide great ongoing content.  

Then, once you are comfortable with your HR expertise, be sure to add business knowledge to the mix.

2. Learn the Priorities

Be sure you know what your CEO and leadership team are focused on. That should be the place you start each day when you look at your to-do list and prioritize the day’s HR activities. If you aren’t serving their goals, you aren’t serving your #1 customer.  

For example, while you might think that compliance and legal matters are top priority, I don’t actually believe that all issues of compliance are. I consider compliance the baseline by which we make decisions.

Just don’t become the HR person that no one wants to include because you also say why things can’t be done!

3. Communicate the Right Way with Leadership

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When issues do arrive, make sure you’re prepared to communicate them the right way when you bring them to the attention of management.

The first thing a new HR Department of One has to do is sit back and listen.

  • What’s happening in leadership conversations?
  • What are department managers talking about?
  • Do employees have a smile on their face?

Find small wins and gain credibility by bringing those to the attention of leadership first. Then go in with the issues that you feel are important.  

4. Pick Your Battles

I know you may be tempted to over-communicate with senior management in order to convey the importance of legal compliance within the organization (even for businesses with a small employee set). But I would suggest not doing that.  I would only recommend that you bring in issues that are clearly over the line of compliance. Explain the risk and reward to leadership and then guide the conversation so they can make a decision that works best for the business. 

5. Familiarize Yourself with HR Best Practices

HR Department of One

When you’re working as an HR Department of One, a lot of the time you have to rely on yourself to gather the resources and tools needed to get your job done. When you’re first starting out, it’s important to master the HR best practices.

I always recommend the SHRM benchmarking surveys. They are a great resource and within the budget of small companies. Then I recommend people turn to their industry associations for surveys specific to their particular field. Really high-quality surveys come out all the time and can be found for free if you watch for blogs. (Or you can save yourself some time and create Google Alerts that monitor for any mention of them.) 

Get Started on the Right Foot as an HR Department of One

You got into this line of work because you discovered your true calling in HR. But working as an HR Department of One isn’t easy. Use the HR tips above to ensure that the beginning of your career starts off on the right foot.

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