I sat down with my new boss as their brand new People Team Manager. First day jitters. First day excitement. And the big question yet to be answered:
‘So what is my main goal over the next 6 months? What results do you want me to achieve?
His response made my stomach drop.
‘Oh I just want the team to be happy. Just make them happy’
Sigh. Oh no no no no no… just no.
And here’s why my stomach dropped. It’s not because it wasn’t an admirable answer. It wasn’t because I questioned his motives, they were awesome (he went on to be one of my favourite bosses). It wasn’t because I had an ego response to being more than the clown in the corner who told knock knock jokes and actually contribute to the business (although I admit that was probably in there a little).
It was because what he wanted was NOT MY JOB and was setting me up to fail. What he wanted was to outsource his job… only he didn’t know it. His motivation was great, wanting his team to thrive, but his idea for how to make that happen (hiring me and delegating) simply wasn’t the solution.
Here are the top 3 times when you should NOT hire an HR person for your biz:
1. I need someone on the team to give tough feedback and help them with their career development
STOP. These points are all parts of YOUR job (or a leader on your team’s job). Feedback, praise, communication, development conversations - these are jobs of someone’s direct leader, someone who has a day to day relationship with them, knows what they do and are accountable for the team’s results.
What to do instead: If these are the things you need to delegate, and it’s totally ok if you need to as you grow, what you need is a general manager or team manager who is the direct Boss of your employees, NOT an HR person to try and ‘band-aid’ solution it across the whole group. They simply won’t have the day to day knowledge or responsibility to do this well, even the most amazing HR person is set up to fail in this scenario.
2. I need someone to figure out what our ‘company culture’ should be and make it happen
No. Seriously, just no, I can’t tell you how disastrous this one is. Here’s the deal, a company culture, regardless of the size, is made up of the said and unsaid things we reward, things we tolerate and things we punish. Literally that’s it. Culture is the unwritten rules of an organisation, and you can definitely work to change that culture - but not by asking a stranger to come in and do a ‘culture change’ program.
What to do instead: walking the walk (do what you want others to be doing), setting super clear expectations and being consistent. This is a leadership responsibility, you do not need to hire someone to do this for you. However this can be a good time to get yourself a coach or consultant to be your expert in the background and support you as you go through the inevitable bumps and bruises of change.
3. And the classic ‘I need someone to make my team members happy’
Ok this one on the surface seems pretty innocuous. You care about your people, you want them to be happy and motivated and love work, so it’s very tempting to want to bring in a ‘people expert’ to be accountable for this measure. There’s two problems with this, (1) people will think it’s not important to you, hence why you’ve delegated it to some new person and (2) this new person very likely won’t actually have the power to truly impact the things that make or break employee’s happiness levels.
What to do instead: Hire a qualified amazing HR / People expert. Hear me out - what I mean is to hire a fantastic People Expert to coach and advise YOU on how to do this, give you inside insight into what’s blocking people from loving life, have an outside set of eyes on what’s working and what’s broken, set up tools, resource and structures to allow people to make themselves happy. Their responsibility is not to DIRECTLY motivate and make people happy, but instead is to enable YOU to create the right conditions for happiness and motivation. They can be invaluable as long as it’s very clear who’s accountable for what.
Get super clear on WHAT expert you need on your team and WHY you want them there before you hit the green button and hire an HR professional!
Questions or comments? Get in touch I’d love to hear from you, get in touch
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