I personally find it really exciting when I am one of the first HR hires for a growing company. But it’s definitely not always easy, especially with competing business priorities and everyone having a different experience with HR in past companies. Below are four things to consider when bringing HR (or being that HR person) in-house for the first time…
1) Set them up for success. Have the CEO introduce the new leader and share their excitement about his/her arrival. If possible have them come to a team meeting or office event before they start so they aren’t a mystery during that time post-announcement and pre-start. Share their 90 day goals to help people have the right expectations.
2) Meet everyone within a reasonable time frame. This is a good idea for any new hire, but especially in HR. Let them know who you are from day one by building trust and showing you are just another excited team member who is there to help build (or grow) a great team and culture. Start with leaders and managers so they can continue to be your champion in the organization. But then jump to the rest of the team as soon as possible. Depending on the size of your organization, start with key talent first. Or if there is concern about people being open right away, do a group meeting with a team and then offer to do 1:1 meetings with anyone interested.
3) Find some early wins but don’t over promise. Part of your first 90 days may be cleaning up or implementing policies for compliance and risk mitigation. While that may not be the sexy side of HR to others, obviously you can’t ignore that just to make friends. But make sure that isn’t the only thing you do early on. You should also have a goal that impacts the team’s lives in a positive way and helps set the right brand for what HR is to your new company. For example, find an easy perk to add (free wellness day) or work on a company wide initiative like creating company values or building an employment brand that will get the population involved and working with you early on.
4) Be amongst “the people”. You will have a lot of meetings quickly. Don’t let yourself get stuck behind a closed door. Sit with teams. Sit at the lunch table. Attend and mingle at office events. Get out there and talk to everyone in a casual environment (not just your intro 1:1’s). This will not only help build those relationships early on but also help you to continue to learn the culture and what is important to people on a day to day basis.
Bonus tip! As I mentioned in the beginning, even companies with the best intentions will have a lot of competing priorities and it is easy to let culture drop down on that list. But you need to find and use your voice with the leadership team to make sure that doesn’t happen (or doesn’t happen every time). Remind them why they hired you and the opportunities you are seeing in the organization that need the attention of not just you, but other leaders in order to truly make a change. Share experiences you had when companies didn’t prioritize culture you found yourselves in a reactionary position versus the proactive culture building company you set out to be. Don’t take it personally, there is a LOT going on for a growing business. But you are part of that successful growth so let your voice be heard!
Want to hear more, listen to a podcast I did about the evolving role of people operations in scaling companies.