GeneralHr Library

What HR needs to know

By Pierce Ivory

If you’ve just hired a new HR manager, or if you feel your existing HR team could be operating more efficiently, it’s important to make sure your HR department is well informed, so that they are fully equipped to do their job properly. For your HR team to be doing what you need them to, they need to know these seven things.

  1. The structure of the company. For your HR team to work effectively, you need to make sure they understand the structure and hierarchy of the company, and where they fit into that structure. This means knowing who they should report to, as well as which team members they are responsible for managing, in addition to understanding how their role and responsibilities fit into the company as a whole. Understanding the company’s structure on both a theoretical and practical level is key to your HR department understanding what is expected of them and what goals they should be working towards.
  2. Their level of authority. As well as knowing where they fit into the company in terms of structure, HR, particularly your HR manager, needs to be clear on exactly how much authority they have – what do they have the power to make decisions about and implement independently, and what are they expected to clear with senior staff before acting? This is important because you need to make sure that your staff understands where the line between showing initiative and overstepping the remit of their role is. Failing to make this clear is unfair, as it means your HR staff can’t know what is expected of them, and can cause problems with overlapping roles that may result in inefficiencies in your company’s operation.
  3. Kerry Sandberg Scott points out that for an HR professional to be successful, they need to understand that their role is ultimately an advisory one. She argues that HR professionals cannot operate effectively until they accept that their advice may not be listened to, and that part of their role is to build credibility, so that their views and ideas are taken seriously by those members of the company not yet convinced about the value of HR.
  4. As well as making sure that your HR department is aware that they are expected to build their own credibility, as a business owner, it is in your interest to help them out in this area. In order to make sure that your HR department feels valued, and hence works to the best of its ability, you need to make sure that the rest of your employees view HR as credible. To do this, you need to allow the HR team to integrate with and build rapport with employees in other departments, and make sure that all of your employees are aware of why HR is important and how it fits into the structure of the company.
  5. Sandberg Scott also argues that HR professionals should be business people, not just ‘HR people’. She points out that encouraging this by including your HR manager in meetings focused on all aspects of the business, not only those directly related to HR, allows them to learn more about the rest of the business, making them a more valuable and respected member of the leadership team, thus improving their credibility, knowledge and effectiveness in their role. Equally, Bob Calamai, Department of Leadership and Human Capital Management, NYU – SCPS, agrees that business knowledge is key to success as an HR professional, as The efficient deployment of a company’s human capital cannot be achieved unless you understand the business that your company is in, and how your specific skill set can help to identify the best way for your company to progress in their business goals.’
  6. Calamai also points out that effective use of social media can increase the efficiency of HR professionals. Encouraging your HR department to expand and make full use of their social network can benefit your company. For example, sites such as LinkedIn can open more avenues for recruitment, helping to secure the most talented new recruits for your company. Such sites are also a platform for professionals to connect and share business ideas and strategies, and so effective use can also increase HR’s knowledge of different types of staff training and development, allowing them to identify the best strategies to implement within your company.
  7. HR, and again, the HR manager in particular, must know how to implement change. This could be a change in employee attitudes towards return on investment in HR activities, for example, investment in employee training and development can have numerous benefits including improving efficiency and reducing employee turnover. Another way in which change might be implemented that HR should be aware of is outsourcing HR activities, or making use of HR software such as this, to free up the HR department’s time. This will allow HR to focus on developing human capital strategy as opposed to mundane administration tasks, which in turn should increase their credibility and importance in the eyes of the rest of the company, which, as discussed above, is key to HR success in your business.


About Author

Pierce IvoryPierce Ivory is the Marketing Director at Advance Systems, a company that provides world-class enterprise workforce software. Involved in digital since 2010, Pierce completed a Master’s degree in digital marketing getting first class honors. He specializes in the field of people operations and HR management for B2B software companies. You can find Pierce on Twitter (@pkivory) and Linkedin (



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