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New HR Managers: Avoid these 6 Common Mistakes

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: November 12, 2019

Whether you were newly promoted or were recently hired, anyone who has moved into the role of an HR manager wants to do the very best they can in their new job. The chances are that to be offered this role, you recently took a diploma in Human Resources Management and are now ready to apply your learning.

Earning an HRM diploma gives you the information and skills it takes others years to acquire through experience alone. Yet, the excitement of taking on a new role and the eagerness to apply your education may lead to making mistakes. These can be avoided if you return to the basics you learned in your diploma program and remember that your role is a balance of working for the organization while advocating for employees.

Here’s a list of the top six mistakes new HR managers often make:

1. Coming in like a steam roller.

Say that you’ve just completed your HRM diploma and were hired at a new firm or have been promoted to an HR manager role in your existing company, it is easy to suddenly see all the things that need to be changed when you have all this new information in your head. Resist the urge to make sudden changes, as it may not sit well with others. Make notes about the changes you would like to see, but before that, spend your first few weeks observing rather than tipping everything on its ear. Then, as time passes, work with your colleagues to bring up potential areas for improvement and ways to solve issues. Involve employees and management in these actions and work with them to push forward.

2. Trying to be everyone’s friend and over-sharing.

The biggest no-no in HR is sharing confidential information. There is a hard line when it comes to talking about anyone’s private information unless it is relevant to a situation (for example, discussing an employee’s mental health issue with their boss to explain recent absences.) Outside of specific job-related circumstances, leaking sensitive information is not acceptable.

Your role is to be approachable and helpful, but not to be everyone’s friend. Being friendly and open is part of the job, but becoming everyone’s buddy and trying to get them to like you is not. Not only is there a danger of bringing forth your own bias, but it may also seem to others feel that you’re giving the person you’re close to, preferential treatment. As an HR, you certainly don’t want that.

3. Applying a cookie-cutter formula to hiring and people.

One of the things HR needs to recognize is that people are individuals with their set of unique and complex behaviours, needs and challenges. While there are some policies that can be applied across the company, like anti-bullying, anti-harassment etc., but there are policies that cannot be applied to everyone. For instance, work hours. Not everyone can come to work and leave work at the same time. Different people have different kinds of commitments. You need to respect that.

The same goes for hiring in that jobs have different skills and experience requirements. Hiring for all the roles using the same process will result in bad hires. For example, it takes a different approach to hire a receptionist than when you have to hire for a CEO position. An IT manager will require a different hiring approach than a graphic artist.

4. Failing to appreciate regulations.

There is a wide range of employment laws that must be adhered to in any business. HR departments are generally small and have multiple responsibilities, but skimping on regulations isn’t the right way. Whether it’s understanding the right forms for payroll or dealing with the fallout of a questionable firing, the legal ramifications are vast, so researching and understanding laws and rules is critical.

5. Silo thinking.

With the high number of tasks that come through an HR department daily, it’s easy to think that everything done in the department is essential to the business. HR duties and operations are important, but they must mesh with and be secondary to the overall business goals. If activities in HR counter the organization’s desired outcomes, it’s time to take a look at where those activities originated, why, and how to align them to the business’s objectives. As an HR Manager, your job is to help them achieve those objectives.

6. Forgetting to make notes in disciplinary situations.

You might think you’re being helpful, or even supportive, to an employee who is going through disciplinary action by not writing everything down – after all, they’ve already been through enough, right? Wrong. Making notes about the situation is important to protect both the company and the employee. Failure to note an important conversation between the manager and the employee could create a different context for someone who reads the file. All aspects must be recorded, even those you are certain you will remember. Keep in mind that even if you do remember the key elements, someone else may be given the file and won’t know to ask you for more information. Complete notes ensure everyone (including you) is protected by conveying the truth and information as it was provided.

Earning an HRM diploma is an exciting way to grow as an HR professional, and by having the right skills and knowledge, you will be able to make a positive impact in your role.


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