Mistake #3: Having a robust Corporate HR group with minimal (if any) Line HR support.

In business, there is never one “right” way to organize your people, your work, or your processes. Much of how you organize depends on your size, your business cycles, your industry, and your expected growth. And what may work for you in one year may not be optimal the next.

Good leaders will experiment with different organizational structures to see how they can maximize the talents of their employees. This results in a dual win, of sorts. The business wins because it has harnessed the full talents of its people. The employees win because everyone likes to be in a role where they can fully utilize their smarts, talents, and capabilities. With that said, there are some basic guidelines for how to organize your HR organizational structure to help you reap the benefits of having HR as a true strategic partner.

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Mistake #2: Failing to hire a senior HR person early on in the company’s growth

For many small to mid-size companies, however, investing in anything more than “tactical” HR seems like a luxury. When your goal is to simply get a product to market or even just get a product to work, this lofty talk of “organizational development” or “change management” seems misplaced. Justifying an investment in these so-called “soft” skills when the opportunity cost is the non-hire of a quality assurance engineer can be difficult.

I’m not arguing, however, not to hire the QA engineer. If you critically need one, then hire one. But I do believe that most companies wait entirely too long to invest in “transformational” HR, as opposed to simply “tactical” HR. CEOs intuitively understand and value the role of Marketing or Sales or Engineering within an organization. Typically, they may have spent time in one of these departments as part of their career path. When creating these departments at a start-up company, they hire VP’s or SVP’s to head each of these divisions from day one.

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Mistake #1: Having the HR Leader report into anyone other than the CEO

In many smaller to mid-size corporations, the administrative and clerical tasks are seen as the most important value-add of the HR department. Tasks such as creating employee files, enrolling employees in various benefit programs, and ensuring compliance with state and federal governmental regulations are what a CEO expects of her HR Manager.

The HR department at this stage of the company’s lifecycle is viewed more as a sunk cost of doing business rather than a value-add. It exists to comply with the regulatory bureaucracy and to create a mini-bureaucracy within the company in order to help the company discharge its basic duties towards employees. Oftentimes at this stage, the HR Manager or Director reports into either the Controller, CFO, or even the General Counsel.

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Welcome to The HR Guy Blog!

I started this blog as a way to share some of my thoughts on the role of Human Resources in an organization based on my 15+ years working in various HR roles within both large and small companies in Silicon Valley. I’ve seen a big shift in the role of HR within organizations during this time and want to help educate non-HR folks on what to expect from their Human Resource departments. Many executives have a very limited view on the role of HR within their organizations. I hope to help change that. This blog will cover “What Every Exec Needs To Know About HR (And The 25 Most Common Mistakes They Make)”

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