Take the time to know your people
This should be the first step when starting a new HR role in a business, and will pay off in the long run. Invest a good portion of your time over the first few weeks in getting to know the people in the business. This should include both on a personal and professional level.
Try to build an understanding of their roles, how they are performing, any pain points, important milestones, where and how they want to develop, and any key strengths and weaknesses.
Having a strong understanding of the people in a business will help you when it comes to working on things like company culture and employee engagement.
Develop a firm understanding of the business
You’ll likely have a good understanding of the basic areas of the business early on, but spending time gaining an in-depth understanding of each area of the business will play an important part when it comes to creating and shaping HR policies in future.
Take the time to understand important stakeholders throughout the business, and the teams and people who work with them. Conceptualise how these areas work, what their key focuses are, and what motivates them. Understand what their needs might be which HR can support with, and aim to build a plan to address these.
Having a good understanding of the HR software from day one is a must. You’ll likely spend a lot of your time working within it, whether it’s dealing with payroll, employee information or managing new hires – it’ll all require an understanding of the HR systems.
As well as understanding systems for your own use, become familiar with how employees have to use the software, such as logging holidays or HR requests. There will almost certainly be questions from the team which you’ll need to field in this area, so it’s important to understand how it works.
In addition, get to know other company wide tech used across the business, such as communication software.
Upskill where possible
Working in HR covers many different areas of a business, from recruitments and onboarding to payroll and staff appraisals. If you’re early on in your HR career, you’ll likely have little experience in every area. For any areas lacking, or any areas with a particular business need, consider requesting training to upskill. Not only is this good for yourself and your career, it’s good for the business.
Outside of HR, it could also be beneficial to gain a better understanding of the particular business focus areas. For example, if you work for a sales company, it could be worth investing some time in understanding the product and sales process. This can help to better understand the team and any issues they may face.
Enjoy the role
When starting a new role in any area, it can sometimes be tempting to try to do too much at once to make a good impression. More often than not, this can lead to lots of things pushing forward slowly and very little actually getting over the finish line. Take the time to do things properly, and give yourself a break.
When the time comes to carve out your area of value within the HR team, take time to consider which area of HR you actually enjoy working in, or may enjoy in the future. Try not to be shoeboxed into a particular focus just because it meets a business need – particularly if it’s an area which you have little interest in.