Help! I’m In Charge of Human Resources – What’ll I Do Now?

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Out of the blue in addition to your other responsibilities you’ve been placed in charge of Human Resources. This happens within many small businesses as they begin to grow. Someone is given a title, perhaps with a remark, “I know you will do well.” Don’t panic. You are not alone. And luckily there are resources available to you . . . and you probably will do well.

You need to take Human Resources seriously, but not to the point that it immobilizes you like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. As you gather your wits about you and begin making plans, there are two main areas you should be aware of: legal issues and improving your workforce. Actually, consider the two main areas plus the budget. The longer you are involved with HR the more you’ll know, and since there are roughly four dozen HR categories for training, you need to realize there are many things to learn, but as a beginner there are only few basics you need to cover.

Legal Issues:

  • Hiring and Firing
  • Respectful Workplace: Harassment – Disabilities – Diversity
  • Improving Your Workforce:

  • Management/Leadership
  • Team Building
  • Communications
  • Customer Service
  • Learning more about legal issues will protect you and your organization. This is the best place to start. When hiring and firing there are some things you can do and some things you can’t do. There are training videos that will take you step by step through the interview process for hiring, so you hire a person that meets your qualifications. One of the best training videos for this is a product called More Than a Gut Feeling. This program has been around for years and has been updated repeatedly. The video comes with a training guide as well as a the book, More Than a Gut Feeling.

    Training points from the package include:

  • How to plan a logical, structured interview that includes pre-planned interview questions
  • How to use interviewing techniques that allow for interviewer control
  • How to recognize why some questions cannot be legally asked in the interview process
  • As you can see, the package gives you a good baseline of information to help you select the best candidate and it also gives you information about the kind of questions you shouldn’t be asking. Before you begin firing anyone, you should also take a look at legal issues in firing as well, but hiring will probably be your first need.

    Every worker has the right to expect that they will work in a safe and respectful workplace. This is why each organization has the obligation to be aware of problems with harassment (harassment, sexual harassment, and workplace bullying), the ADA (American’s With Disabilities Act), and the acceptance of diversity. A policy encompassing workplace violence and harassment prevention along with respectful treatment is a must. There are many products to help you develop your own policy manual and many even come with blank form for you to fill out.

    Once the legal aspects of employment have been addressed, you can move into training. There are special assessments you can purchase to address your training needs as a whole as well as the needs of individuals within the organization, but as a newbie Human Resources Director, I would recommend you simply meet with your fellow employees and brainstorm about training and education needs. The more you communicate with your employees, the better understanding you will develop with them about their abilities.

    Possibly the best place to start in training are the areas of team building and communications. If your organization isn’t working as a team you make management harder and if communications isn’t working you make most aspects of working together almost impossible.

    Training videos may run between a few hundred dollars up to a thousand dollars or more. Many of the John Cleese business training tapes cost about $870, while Jamie Oliver’s new tapes (of the Food Channel) run a little over a thousand dollars to purchase. Renting is an option, but I follow the “better to own the cow” philosophy. The John Cleese videos use lots of humor to illustrate their points and Jamie Oliver is really popular, so both of these factors make these training videos well worth the money.

    There are more economic tools available, however. There are pre-packaged workshops for off-the-shelf training that contain scripts, handouts, and overheads (all on reproducible .pdf formated files) AND an illustrative video accompanies the presentation all for less than $400. You can adapt the script for presenting a half day workshop or as much as a two day workshop. You can put the workshop instantly into your schedule and then bring it back for review (and new employees) a year or two later. And, of course the second time you use the package, there is no additional charge.

    You can also purchase three-ring binders which contain simple activities, which can be used time and time again. Activity collections are available for many HR training categories and cost around $140.

    I recommend you plan a budget that enables you to begin stocking a library of products. You can add to them and share them with fellow workers and managers. As you share programs and your desire you improve your organization you should be able to find fellow employees that will help and assist you.

    You can start off your Human Resources career by initiating your own training programs, by hiring HR trainers to come in an consult with you and possibly run programs that you can run the next time around, or by hiring professionals at each level of training. The needs of the employees and your budget should be your guiding light.

    Human Resources should be both fun and challenging. Enjoy.

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