HR Generalists: Tricks of the Trade #TChat Recap

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Recruiting and hiring.
Compensation and benefits.
Organizational design and development.
Compliance and employee relations.
Training and performance management.
Change management and internal communications.
The list goes on…

In today’s world of work, the areas of expertise that define HR are varied and complex. Yet, most companies are too small to employ a dedicated staff of specialists. It forces the question:

In an era of increasing specialization, how can one person successfully run an entire human resource department?

Of course, this isn’t just an academic exercise. For many HR professionals, nonstop multitasking now seems to be a way of life. Recent research by The Society For Human Resource Management suggests that there’s a widespread need to support small HR shops. According to SHRM, a majority of its 275,000 members represent HR departments of 1-5 people. They know what it means to juggle many demands on a daily basis. But how can they perform effectively?

That’s the issue our talent-minded community tackled this week at #TChat Events, where two  “in-the-trenches” HR veterans led the discussion:

Dave Ryan, SPHR, Director of Human Resources at Mel-O-Cream Donuts, and
Donna Rogers,
SPHR, owner of Rogers HR Consulting, and management instructor at University of Illinois Springfield.

(Note: For details, see the highlights slideshow and resource links at the end of this post.)

Context: How Essential Is HR, Itself?

Recently, a debate has been brewing about the value of HR departments, overall. Bernard Marr questioned the need for an HR function, while Josh Bersin championed its role. Bersin emphasizes the fact that, despite a tremendous need to reskill and transform the HR function, human resources professionals help solve some of today’s most fundamental business problems. Top executives recognize the strategic role that talent plays in organizational success, and HR professionals are best equipped to define, shape and implement those strategies.

But how does that apply to solo HR managers, who may be living in a perpetually reactive zone? Ben Eubanks describes the best one-person HR departments as leaders with entrepreneurial traits:

We don’t pick up the phone and call our corporate HR team. We ARE the corporate HR team.
We are comfortable with research and making judgment calls.
We constantly seek out opportunities for professional development — if you’re not growing you’re dying.

Comments From the TalentCulture Crowd

Because many #TChat-ters understand the challenges that multi-tasking HR generalists face each day, the vast majority of Twitter chat participants sang the praises of one-person shops. In addition, many offered thoughtful advice. For example:

As the #TChat discussion demonstrates, solo managers don’t need to wait for industry events to connect with smart advice. Social tools make it easy to create a network of virtual resources to assist when you need it. Do you have a question about an unfamiliar subject? Tweet it with a relevant hashtag. (Try #TChat!) Post it to a LinkedIn HR discussion group. I guarantee you’ll get responses, faster than you expect.

Social tools also are useful for communication within your organization. Intranets are a great way to enable collaboration and communication at a relatively low cost. Cloud-based tools are available for internal discussions, project management, and reporting. Hiring systems and performance management solutions also offer social integration without steep IT costs. The possibilities are limited only by the time and interest HR managers invest in professional networking and research.

Above All: Aim for Agility

It seems that, of all skills needed for one-person HR superheroes, the most important is agility. Put aside the notion that you can execute perfectly, across-the-board. Prioritize carefully. Then, with the time and budget available to you, apply tools and resources as efficiently as your able, while making it all seem effortless.

Scared? Don’t be. If you’re reading this, you know that a worldwide community of like-minded people is right here to support you. We’ve got your back!

#TChat Week-In-Review: HR Departments of One

Donna Rogers and Dave Ryan
Watch the hangouts in the #TChat Preview

SAT 11/30:

#TChat Preview:
TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald, framed this week’s topic in a  post featuring #TChat hangout videos with guests Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers. Read: “HR: How to Succeed at Flying Solo.”

SUN 12/1:

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro looked at 7 ways leaders can foster a high-octane social workplace culture. Read: “Top 5 Reasons HR Is On The Move.”

MON 12/2:

Related Post: Guest Donna Rogers shared wisdom from her experiences. Read “Survival Tips for HR Departments of One.

WED 12/4:

TChatRadio_logo_020813
Listen to the #TChat Radio recording

#TChat Radio: Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman spoke with guests Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers, about the challenges and rewards of operating as a one-person HR department. Listen to the radio recording now!

#TChat Twitter: Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin, Dave and Donna joined the TalentCulture community on the #TChat Twitter stream, as I moderated an open conversation that centered on 5 related questions. For highlights, see the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Insights: HR Departments of One

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

GRATITUDE: Thanks again to Dave Ryan and Donna Rogers for sharing your perspectives on HR management. We value your time and expertise!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about how HR professionals can operate “lean”? We welcome your thoughts. Post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, #TChat looks at the latest Candidate Experience trends and best practices with guest experts, Elaine Orler and Gerry Crispin! Look for more details this weekend.

Meanwhile, the World of Work conversation continues. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream,  our LinkedIn discussion group. or elsewhere on social media. The lights are always on here at TalentCulture, and we look forward to hearing from you.

See you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

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Nancy Rubin

Nancy Rubin

Nancy Rubin, Ph.D. is an expert and recognized thought leader in instructional design, technology and curriculum. She is strongly committed to educational excellence and creating a positive learning experience in the online environment. She has presented at many conferences, has been published in educational journals, and is the Associate Managing Editor for the Journal of Literacy and Technology, an online peer-reviewed international academic journal exploring the complex relationship between literacy and technology in educational, workplace, public, and individual spheres. She was selected as a 2012 Top 20 Most Influential Tweeter in Learning Technology.