Big company HR teams have so many advantages it sometimes seems unfair! They have money. They have a big brand. They have seemingly unlimited amounts of bodies to throw at problems. And this is why my heart always goes out to the little guys.
Okay, let’s be honest. I’m 5′ 7″, which means I’ve been the shortest friend in every friend circle I’ve ever been in. But what I found growing up was that my small size was often an advantage (especially when playing basketball). I was nimbler and could get out of tight spots. I could pivot quicker, start and stop faster. My smaller size made me work harder to gain the same advantages, which taught me to never give up.
I view small HR teams the same way. I’ve worked in both small and large HR shops, and I always felt I had more of a chance to do great HR work in a small shop than a large shop. Sure, you’re dealing with smaller budgets and fewer hands on deck, but if you’re smart, especially when it comes to process and technology stuff, you can accomplish more than you’d think.
Here are five tricks and tips that might help you get there:
#1. Don’t create more steps than you need to.
Big HR shops develop a ton of processes that are basically designed to protect them from responsibility – in other words, CYA (Cover Your A**) HR. Small shops can’t do this. Streamline your processes to get the work done in the simplest, fastest way possible, even if it means you might end up holding the ball in the unlikely event there’s a bump in the road. Dealing with that sort of thing is just part of the gig.
#2. Eliminate unnecessary back-and-forth communication.
Small HR shops don’t have the time to wait for email responses that might not come for hours or days. I find it’s often best to just deal with issues face-to-face, then follow-up with an email to let all parties know what was decided.
Two situations in particular where this makes a lot of sense: when you’re going back and forth about a job candidate with their potential manager, and when employees have benefits questions and keep following up for more clarification. If you can, get out of your chair, and just go have a quick 2 minute conversation.
#3. Let your HR Tech do what it was designed to do.
The HR technology you buy was designed by very smart people who spent a ton of time and money to make it work perfectly. Let the tech do what it was designed to do. Follow the workflow exactly how it was designed to work. The moment you try to change one thing, it starts to become inefficient!
#4. Stop doing the stuff others can do better.
Outsourcing isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you know what you’re good at, and what someone else is better and more efficient at. Great HR teams understand they can’t be great at everything, and outsourcing certain functions will make the organization stronger overall.
Two areas a lot of HR teams outsource and for good reason? IT hiring and benefits communication.
#5. Get your hiring manager to own their own talent.
Small HR teams have trouble making every hiring manager happy when it comes to recruiting. Make them take responsibility of their own talent. You will help them, you will still recruit, but at the end of the day, if they have an open position on their team, that’s on them, not you.
We tend to think great HR means we do everything for everyone. That isn’t great HR. That’s a good way to go crazy! Great HR is about 1) knowing when to delegate and how to cut down on admin busywork, 2) helping your organization be self-sufficient, and 3) using all the extra time and energy you save by doing all that stuff to focus on helping the talent that makes your company great do their best work possible.