Stop reading this if your Human Resources team is overstaffed.
Still reading? Of course you are because we all know an overstaffed HR department only exists in a land with unicorns and mermaids.
As an HR professional, I understand that sometimes it’s hard to explain what your “typical day” looks like. Random, unplanned things take time, like requests for ID cards, drive-by interactions with employees who have policy questions or taking time to chat with a coworker because you’re the friendly face of HR. And, let’s talk about the executive who wants to go in one direction today and another tomorrow.
You’re in an open-door, service oriented role, and you want to help your employees. But one little thing here and another small thing there can quickly add up to derail your entire day.
To people outside the HR realm, it may look like you’re not getting your work done. The reality: you’re simply getting caught up in a swirl of tactical tasks that cumulatively keep you from completing anything strategic.
Finding Balance Between Strategic and Tactical
So, how do you get past those everyday tasks so you can focus on the more strategic aspects of your HR role?
Here are a few solutions:
- Put on your oxygen mask. What they say on airplanes is true: you can’t help others until you help yourself. Give your employees the tools to help themselves and publicize those tools. Often, employees would rather go online to get what they need instead of contacting you. Proactively provide access to the resources they need when they need them – and free up more time in your day.
- Arrange your day to work with your natural biorhythm. If you’re most alert in the early morning hours, schedule more strategic tasks during that time. If you know you get tired at 2:00 p.m. every day, schedule more menial tasks for that time of day. You may not always be able to adhere to these times, but at least try to put a schedule around your day to manage expectations and increase productivity.
- Measure your time. Understand that a simple question about benefits may take 30 minutes. A more complicated benefits question may take one to two hours to resolve. Keep track of your time and be aware of what tasks, even the smallest ones, are eating up your day.
- Provide transparency and open communication with leadership. Share your time measurements and communicate expectations with your leadership team so they know where you’re spending your time. Advise leadership, in the spirit of transparency, that if you shift directions to work on a new project, then the shift will decrease the time devoted to other projects and tasks. This builds your credibility and helps them understand what it takes to perform your role to their satisfaction. They can then provide the support you need to adjust your schedule and free up more time for strategic thinking.
- Accept that you’re not going to get everything done on your list. Once you have a better understanding of where you’re spending your tactical time, you can start making more room for strategic planning. Accept that you won’t get everything done in a day and be reassured that you have the power to take control of your schedule and make adjustments for the next day.
For more HR talk that’s straight, no chaser, attend the Hard Truth Happy Hour: Getting Real About HR event on February 25th. Click here to register for the event.