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problems getting your company’s managers to follow your HR requirements? Time
to make some strategic alliances—in your workforce and among your HR peers.
Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional,
takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact
him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.
currently work as an HR coordinator (and HR department of one) for a small
construction company. I’m responsible for benefits, employee relations,
compliance, payroll, training and development, job descriptions, employee
files, recruiting, engagement, and travel arrangements, among many other tasks
here and there.
only had a few months of recruiting experience, and I’m two classes shy of
earning my bachelor’s degree in HR management. I go to school online so that I
can work full time, which the company knew when hiring me. I’ve now been here
eight months, and I’m frustrated. I’ve received no training, so on my own
I’ve taken some seminars, and I refer to my school’s online resources as
needed. I’ve also joined SHRM, but I’d appreciate any advice on finding
now I’m working on training and development and building a development program
for each position. I’ve sent a questionnaire to all employees asking about
their job, what they like, what they see themselves doing in five years, and
challenges they currently have or would like to have. No one took the
questionnaire seriously, and half of the staff didn’t even complete
it. When we onboard a new employee, I ask for a training schedule from the
supervisor and get an answer like “I’ll figure it out” or “He will get with one
of the guys.” When I follow up, I only hear “He’s doing fine” or something
vague like that. Please help!TaraBrunswick,
lived through a similar experience myself, my heart goes out to you, but the
20/20 hindsight coming from that experience might be more helpful than the
sympathy. You are
on payroll, so obviously one or more pretty influential people see the need for
the skills you possess.
let’s face the facts: An HR department of one in a company unused to the HR
function is a tough journey to navigate. Many of those old-line managers may
not understand the value your role can bring to their work.
most of the issues we address in this column, there is no simple answer, but
rather a number of concurrent actions you need to take.
of all, you might give yourself a crash course in the construction industry,
how it functions and makes money, and the challenges it faces. Use allies and
even perceived enemies and pepper them with questions about everything related
to the business being successful and the problems that get in the way of
success. Showing a real interest and regard for the challenges of their world
will win you respect and probably some new insights on how to bring about
will never succeed in jamming new rules and regulations down the throats of
experienced construction managers. But if you can adapt and deliver HR
requirements as intelligent solutions to the problems they experience, then
attitudes can change: You become a problem-solver and not a walking pestilence.
back on general questionnaires that may make people think their jobs are in
jeopardy; there are bigger problems to understand and solve before worrying
about quality of work/life issues.
use the mentors at your local SHRM meetings to help you capture how the HR
function impacts the bottom line—all the ways HR helps make money, save money
or increase productivity for the company. Let them help you capture the value
your function can bring to the company in easy-to-understand language.
your new understanding of the challenges facing companies in the construction
industry, and some idea of the ways HR can help with these issues, you might
then consider meeting with the most senior and powerful of your allies—maybe the
person who hired you? Ask for a prioritization of the issues you should be
focusing on, and be prepared to present your action items, too. Discuss,
reprioritize your lists and agree to come back with a plan of attack to
accomplish these priorities.
advice about how to deal with the line managers who are not taking the need for
these changes seriously (without naming names, of course) and thereby impeding
whenever you find a supporter in line management, go out of your way to help
them in any way you can. When that manager’s peers see how you can deliver
value, you will win them over, one by one. I would pursue this approach for
nine months with complete commitment. If after that time you have been unable
to make any headway, it might be time to consider a move–while maintaining
every appearance of continued commitment.
question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to
small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We’ll only publish your first
name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.
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