Thursday, September 27, 2012

Guest Post: New Graduates: 3 Things your HR Program Didn't Teach You in School

It's a busy week of guest posts and this one comes from Maria Rainer, a former human resources manager turned freelance writer. She now regularly contributes to, a website that is dedicated to higher learning as well as an array of other business and career-related blogs. She welcomes your comments. Here is what Maria had to give as advice to new graduates starting out in the workforce: -----------------------

So you've finally graduated and landed your first job in human resources—congratulations. While school may have prepared you for some common scenarios you may experience during your first year on the job, instructors most likely didn't tell you everything. After all, there are just some things you must learn through real-life trial and error. However, there are a few tips I can share with you that I learned during my first year as a human resources manager.

It's ok to Occasionally Network/ Socialize 

My first dip in to the HR pool was working as the head of Human Resources for a small start-up internet marketing company that was more or less modeled after Google: it was a completely relaxed environment, employees could wear jeans and sneakers, and there was an X-box and pin pong table in the break room. Not to mention everyone (aside from upper management) was under the age of 30, so I transitioned quite nicely coming directly out of college.

A few weeks into the job I quickly learned that my co-workers loved to drink—a lot. Happy hours were the norm. My third week on the job I went to my very first Happy Hour which turned out to be my last. I was just completely terrified of what I saw/heard during my co-workers' drunken states and I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to report or not.

Shortly after that night I started to distance myself from my co-workers completely, even at lunch— I would eat by myself in my office, always wanting to uphold my image as HR manager. After all, that's what I was told to do in school: you can't fraternize with your subordinates. But in retrospect I was miserable. I didn't make any co-worker "friends." People were afraid to approach me. There's a difference between being respected and feared and I know now that you can still achieve the former and still do your job if you choose to socialize and network every once in a while. It's ok to have lunch with you co-workers! There are boundaries you must still respect, but it's ok to make a friend.

Be Timely/ Organized 

Since the company I worked for was so small, technically my title was HR Manager/Accountant. In my opinion I was over worked. I was constantly juggling both duties. When Christmas came around I was exceptionally overwhelmed. Vacation days did not roll over and were not paid out, so during the end of the year I began to get a flood of emails from co-workers requesting confirmation of how many PTOs they had left. To make things easier on me, I asked that I only be emailed on Mondays about PTOs. I never gave them a timeline of when I'd get back to them but said I would as soon as I could. My disorganization got the best of me and there were a few people I never even responded too. I dropped the ball. I got so caught up with other duties that requests and questions weren't getting answered fast enough, and soon people began to lose faith in me and went about other ways to obtain their information.

While it's understandable that you're new and are just learning to adjust, you need to do the opposite of what I did and make responses in a timely manner. If you say you're going to get an employee a needed form, information, or answer by the end of the day—do it!

Don't Discuss Employees' Pay, Even with Friends 

This last faux pas didn't happen to me, but to a friend that was working in the same field during her first year in human resources. Coincidentally my former classmate got hired as an HR manager at a company that her best friend's boyfriend was employed at. In HR school were told to never, ever discuss pay with other employees in the office. But to discuss it with someone who doesn’t work there? That was always a little blurry for some students. But my former classmate learned the hard way that even outside of the office discussing an employee's pay it's a huge no-no.

Over dinner my former classmate's best friend started venting that her boyfriend kept complaining he couldn't participate in all these date activities she planned because he was "broke." My former classmate said rather abruptly, "Broke? How so? I put [x] amount of money in his checking account and [x] amount of money in his savings. I wonder where all that money is going?"

The best friend broke up with her boyfriend—tuned out he impregnated another woman and was paying medical expenses—and my former classmate lost her job. The story is scandalous, but you should never ever discuss your employees' salary with anyone. Not even your family. You never know when it can come back to haunt you and get you terminated.

1 comment:

  1. I admire the valuable information you offered in your article


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