Big Red Car here in the ATX after The Boss had a stint on the east coast for a funeral in Sandersville, Georgia, visiting sweet Wrightsville Beach during the big East Coast Storm of the Century, over to Charlotte to see the investment banker son, and down to Atlanta to see My Perfect Daughter and new husband.
Now, The Boss is back home to see his beloved Big Red Car and to get the Big Red Car a new paint job — come on, Boss, let’s get a paint job for the faithful, loyal, steady, fabulous Big Red Car.
Dear Readers, work it with me. I need a damn paint job and The Boss is resisting the inevitable. I have threatened a stop work action and he has threatened a trip to the junk yard. Help me here, y’all!
It’s 33F this morning headed to 74F this afternoon. Don’t y’all love a Texas winter?
So, The Boss fields questions on the development of an HR (human relations) capability from four different CEOs of lovely businesses with 25-75 employees. Sometimes, ideas germinate at the same time but this is an uncanny coincidence. Maybe not?
Human relations is the administrative requirement to minister to the needs of a company’s employees from maintaining personnel files to benefits administration to performance appraisal with everything else in between.
As a CEO grows her company, this is something that is initially being done by the seat of one’s pants and which every CEO knows will one day have to be formalized.
So, the CEO considers hiring a full time HR professional of which there are many acknowledged professionals out there.
So far, so good. Hasn’t cost anybody any money to talk about it, right?
Crawl, walk, run
As in any capability, the Big Red Car preaches a gradual implementation of any strategic initiative. You will remember we had this conversation before when we talked about Building An Organization — Financial Talent.
Read that article and take a look at the graphic and see how gradually a Chief Financial Officer can evolve from the smallest nugget of an organization.
The Big Red Car suggests you take the same approach to dealing with your HR requirements.
How, Big Red Car?
Here is a list of what you might consider doing — before you go out and hire an expensive full time HR person. Just a thought.
1. Make a dollar weighted organization chart showing the functional areas of the company and the individual positions within those areas by name and compensation level.
If you have any openings for which you are currently hiring, show them as dotted boxes with a target salary.
Know how much every function within the company is going to cost you and make damn sure that is what you want and intend to spend. Take the cost of benefits into consideration. They cost real money.
[Pro tip: A good growth management tool is to model what the dollar weighted org chart of the future looks like versus what you have today. It will identify the number of new positions and the cost impact on the bottom line. This can be done with an iterative approach — model it for six month increments.]
2. Have files made for each employee. This can be digital but make sure they are done. Collect all the pertinent data and remember this is confidential information. Safeguard it.
An easy way to do this is to develop an application form which contains all the information. This is easy stuff.
3. Develop a little spreadsheet of individual salary and other compensation history. Keep it current.
4. Sketch out an Employee Handbook with all of your policies codified in writing.
Hey, find a good one on the Internet and customize it to your own wishes. You can hire someone to do this for you.
[Pro tip: Monkey see, monkey do can be a good idea sometimes.]
5. Commit to writing your Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values as well as a Business Engine Canvas, a Business Process Graphic, and a quick slide deck on the company.
Most of this exists and the Objectives will be perfect to tie into the performance appraisal system.
This is all going to be part of your Onboarding Checklist and system.
6. Develop a job description for the entire organization chart starting with the top jobs and working down. Where there multiple positions with the same description, just one will do for now.
[Pro tip: You really want to develop something called a Basis for Employment but we are in that crawl, walk, run frame of mind and you can do that later and for new hires.
7. Publish your Values and live them.
8. Develop an Onboarding Checklist which outlines what happens when a new employee comes on board at your company.
9. Develop a Performance Appraisal system which uses the input of the new hire’s Objectives, a Self-Appraisal, and a Performance Appraisal Form.
Make the Performance Appraisal Form comprehensive and deal with compensation at the same time. There is nothing more lame than giving a performance appraisal and then saying, “We’ll talk money later.” Lame. Lame. Lame.
10. Outsource all of your benefits admin you possibly can. All of it.
11. When all this is done, take a week off and go to Mexico and lie in a hammock, drink beer, and congratulate yourself. Get a massage.
Because you have laid the groundwork for next big step.
The next big step
Just like we discussed with the incremental development of financial talent, you are going to contemplate a part time HR clerk, a full time HR clerk, a part time HR professional BEFORE you lay out the big bucks to hire a full time HR professional. Because you get the idea of being lean, nimble, and crawl, walk, run. That is you.
When the “work” above is done, then you will consider hiring a full time HR person and that full time HR person will step into a system that already has your fingerprints on it and it will be infinitely easier.
What should we expect, Big Red Car?
OK, so you’ve low crawled up on the solution and you’ve crawled, walked, run and still you’re now ready to hire that HR pro — so what do we expect to happen, Big Red Car?
1. It is going to be expensive.
2. No HR pro can exist for more than six months without having an assistant or a clerk. Not the end of the world if your headcount is going to justify it.
3. You will delegate the Hell out of all HR — hiring administration, current employee administration, benefits administration, performance appraisal, market research as to compensation, problem solving — responsibilities.
This is a very thing because now, dear CEO, you can focus on the product, the service, the company, and growing the business which is YOUR freakin’ job in the first place, right?
Delegate everything. The best CEOs are ruthless delegaters willing to live with a little imperfection in order to delegate everything. Delegate yourself out of a job, if you can.
4. Then, you will find out all the stuff you’ve been doing wrong which is unlikely to contribute to anything mission critical.
It is like keeping a neat and clean cemetery — it doesn’t bring anybody back to life but it is time consuming and it is expensive.
Employees will now have a place to go to complain about their managers.
In the past, that was you, dear CEO. Now it is the HR manager who is only too willing to listen to a story, go see a manager, pick a fight, and only when there are bruises and lacerations COME SEE YOU.
Let me be clear. Some of this is the cost of being an employer. Shit happens. But a lot of it is that when you put up a Complaint Box it will get filled to overflowing with complaints.
Hire a full time HR pro and you will be spending a lot of time learning about stuff that isn’t really mission critical. Tough balancing act to be sure but a time suck like you’re never seen.
Go over to the Free Stuff tab and see what forms you can get for free. [I am not giving you a hyperlink on purpose, you lazy readers. Sheesh! This is Free Stuff. Tab it out.]
If you need some other good exemplars — job description, basis of employment, employee performance appraisal input, performance appraisal form, values booklet — ping The Boss and let him know what you need. He may charge you a good joke in return but he’ll send that shit to you.
And, there you have it, dear CEO. A strategy for incremental development of your HR capability and a spot of crawl, walk, run that will work for you.