Balancing my desire for a meaty HR role, along with the needs of my family (young children) has become vitally important in recent years.
Harriet and Jane placed me in a great HR Manager role for a leading media business, I work 3 days per week as a stand-alone HRM.
The Stand-alone concept is not for the faint hearted – you don’t have HR colleagues to bounce ideas off, you have to be the fountain of all knowledge, and you do get involved in everything from drafting offer letters right through to discussing department restructures and org design.
But that’s what has been so attractive about this type of role – the variety involved, the chance to constantly improve my knowledge as I’m called upon by executives and senior leaders for advice in areas which, even after 15 years in HR are still new to me.
No two days are the same: one day I’ll be focused on writing job descriptions and objectives documentation to roll-out to staff. The next I could be focused on recruiting a new role: creating the job advert, discussing requirements with line managers, contacting agencies and negotiating terms, interviewing candidates and ensuring offers are made (and accepted) in a timely manner. And the next I’ll be creating a new handbook and liaising with our lawyers on updating and creating new and relevant policies for the organisation.
The requests come thick and fast and being organised is key to success here – you need to ensure you can respond to queries in a timely manner, give executives the information they need promptly, ensure candidates get offer documentation sent without delay, all the time ensuring the more meaty projects don’t fall into oblivion. Making time to return to more strategic work when the more transactional/operational part of the role takes over is still important.
Mastering this whilst working part time can be done. But you need to make your key stakeholders aware in advance and not be apologetic about it. That means being clear in your communication with people (both internal and external stakeholders) stating your working pattern in your out of office email messages, and also being disciplined enough to keep your phone off on your non-working days. Of course there are times when you want to check emails during downtime (evenings or non working days) but you have to be strict with yourself and only reply to absolutely urgent messages. I’ve found people adjust to this very quickly and start to respect your space.
It’s a constant learning experience and a test of resilience. If you’re someone who needs to learn from those who have done it before then this type of role, particularly part time, won’t suit. But if you want the chance to be the master of your own destiny then a stand-alone role is fantastic. Set your boundaries, stay organised, and communicate openly and clearly and you will thrive in this environment.
Jo – HR Manager, Media