Posted: Tuesday 31 March 2015. Author: Capita HR solutions.
PICTURE the scene: you are a capable HR professional, about to move to a new company with a view toward managing your own department. The role of a lifetime, or at least the next step on the ladder. Your job description looks good, the company has a glowing reputation and you are determined to make an impact. But how do you go about it?
There are plenty of articles, gurus, books and commentaries that will give you guidance. But these will tend to focus on issues relating only to HR in isolation; addressing matters that happen during the daily cycle of life in the department. The problem is that, while relevant, this advice is too parochial, ignoring the bigger picture that you need to have a clear vision of.
Rather than narrow your focus, however, to help make a truly credible impact within any new role or new business, there should be a widescreen appreciation of how a company works and the world it inhabits. So for any HR professional joining a new company or taking over a new role its vital you look outside your department.
To start with get hold of the strategic plan and start to understand what the priorities are and where the business is looking to go. Find out who the key people within the business are, the ones who impact that plan; and figure out who you need to meet right away. Next, speak with the key operational people on the shop floor. By doing this you should quickly gain an overview of any non-HR issues from the ground up. Try to understand what the main daily concerns are in the business and how they are traditionally managed.
Don't fall into that trap of thinking you will be all things to all people immediately. It's fine to say that you intend going around absolutely everyone from reception to boardroom and shaking their hand but the reality is that you simply won't have the time to do this in your first few weeks. Getting to know everyone will take time and for larger companies this will happen organically. What you really need to get to grips with are the key people who either influence the business as a whole or who influence your world directly (it's often worth asking these people what they would change about the business tomorrow, if they had a blank canvas. The results can be illuminating and will tell you as much about them as the business itself).
Get to know the key products very quickly; what does the company do, make or sell? Understand where it fits in the marketplace (both local and international). Find out who the key clients or customers are and what relationships are like with them. Establish who your competitors are. Get to grips with the history of the business; was it bought over at any stage; was there a period of unrest or strike action was it acquired or did it grow organically?
Understand what is involved with the main contracts and what the associated dependencies are for these. Grab hold of the SLAs and KPIs. Take the time to understand what they mean and how you are actually performing against them. Understand the basic financials; is the business in rude health or scraping by? Consider where and how money is spent; on staff, product, research, marketing etc.
Investigate any potential liabilities across the business. Potential redundancies for example; what are staff entitled to? Is it enhanced? Think through what it would cost the business if you have to let people go due to a lost contract for example.
Check any previous audits for issues (not just HR audits - all audits). See if they have been actioned, who is responsible and when the next one is due. Have a look at the quality system and check any business assurance requirements. How these are managed will tell you a lot about how the business is run. Finally, get in on the act with any disaster planning. HR can often get overlooked and if you believe it's a vital cog in the machine make sure it's well covered should anything happen. And most of all, good luck in the new role.