Nextchat: Excelling as an HR Department of One


In many small and midsize companies, the human resources department consists of one person. The department of one (DOO) handles every HR function for the entire organization including recruiting, onboarding, training, compensation, benefits, employee relations, compliance, technology, analytics and strategy—and is frequently responsible for other business processes at the same time.  

Professionals who are HR departments of one typically have diverse backgrounds and levels of training. However, whether you have an MBA and are an integral part of leadership, or if you came through internal ranks with little formal HR training, DOOs tend to share many of the same issues. Key roadblocks that arise include finding time to get it all done, having the authority to solve employee requests and setting priorities that help drive initiatives forward.

HR departments of one are saddled with administrative tasks, yet often have the desire and even the need to participate at a more strategic level. The executive team expects you to have the depth of knowledge of a CHRO and your employees want answers to their questions now. Finance wants benefits bills yesterday and Operations needs new candidates. How do you navigate the needs of your internal customers and still participate in strategy? 

One of the most difficult aspects of the DOO’s job is the absence of HR peers with whom to exchange ideas, get advice or ask questions. This is where networking with other HR professionals outside of your organization becomes critically important for success—and survival.

Lori Kleiman, SHRM-SCP, president of HR Topics, will present a session at the SHRM 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition titled Control the Chaos: Four Steps to Excelling as an HR Department of One. The session will cover strategy, priorities, vendor management and technology, among other DOO issues.   

In the SHRM Online article Lessons from HR Departments of One, Kleiman encourages HR professionals to do a deep dive into learning their organization’s business and to connect with senior leaders. She says that it’s important to take initiative and to “Stop waiting to be invited.” She also “urges HR departments of one to view themselves as executives. Get onto management meeting agendas with HR topics that impact the entire business. Always be present with a business focus. Cite numbers. For example, show how training can impact customer retention.” 

How are you becoming a more effective, efficient and strategic HR department of one?  

Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on May 24 for #Nextchat with special guest Lori Kleiman (@LoriKleiman). We’ll share resources, tips and advice to help HR professionals create a more efficient and effective department of one.

Q1. What is your greatest challenge or frustration as an HR department of one?

Q2. What technology solutions are you using to help ease the burden of administrative duties? 

Q3. What functions are best outsourced in an HR department of one, and how do you manage vendors to get the most assistance?

Q4. As an HR department of one, what resources have been the most helpful to you?

Q5. What are the best forums or networking opportunities for individuals who are HR departments of one?

Q6. As an HR department of one, how do you set priorities when everything is on fire, every day?   

Q7. How can HR departments of one determine their strategic position and make a strategic impact on their organization?

Q8. What advice do you have for others who want to excel and be a more efficient, effective and strategic HR department of one?

If you missed this #Nextchat, you can read the RECAP with all the tweets here.


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