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My journey as an HR professional

Human resources is a rewarding profession, but it also has its share of challenges that come with the opportunities. Surprisingly, negotiating challenging conversations was much harder than dealing with management theories or administrative duties when I first began my HR profession.

If you enjoy interacting with people and taking on daily administrative tasks, you will succeed in HR. I hope that the lessons I've learned and the experiences I've had throughout my 15-year tenure will assist you gain further understanding of this amazing career.

An introduction to HR operations

HR operations is responsible for the entire employee lifecycle from onboarding to exit interviews.

A Star wars inspired meme which says,

  • Administration: Know your employees, their job roles, responsibilities, and development needs.

  • Payroll: In HR, you'll find that your popularity soars unparalleled close to payday. A word of caution — don't mess up any salary computation or you may be forced to make an impromptu career choice!

  • Security and safety: Protect employees and company property from outsiders, insiders, and each other.

  • Recruitment and promotions: You'll feel close to the power of God when you onboard the bright-eyed and excited newcomer or hand over a letter of promotion to a deserving employee.

  • Transfers and exits: Exit interviews can be a treasure trove of information for organizational change and improvement, if taken seriously. On the other hand, it's not a very happy moment if the employee is disgruntled while exiting the organization!

Skills for an effective people manager

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  • Human resources professionals need a lot of heart and people management skills.

  • You need to be able to enjoy identifying the right candidates and helping them develop them to their full potential.

  • If you plan on a career in HR, then a professional degree in HR or subjects like business or psychology will help jumpstart your career.

Tip 1: Common sense and humor go a long way

Homer Simpson saying,

As a person looking at HR operations as a future career option, you need to have a thriving sense of humor! It's not only desirable but also essential if you want to be successful without losing all your hair. HR operation is fraught with:

  • Daily administrative escalations.

  • Tensions spilling over late vendor payments.

  • Salary miscalculations or some legal problems with the local community.

  • Some governmental compliances that are filed late due to human error or a technical glitch.

These issues will invariably fall into your lap. You have to keep a smile on your face and your chin up!

Tip 2: Be patient and be a good listener

A Simpsons clip of an old sailor saying,

I can attest from personal experience as well as financial gain that the HR industry is highly fulfilling. The satisfaction you feel when you assist a worker in resolving a problem or grooming new hires for management positions down the road is incomparable to anything.

Sadly, people do have problems, and it will be these difficulties that will serve as your battleground. You'll need to be persuasive, wise, and empathic. Even if you're powerless to alter their circumstances, you can still be there for employees.

Remember to take deep breaths!

Tip 3: Water cooler conversations — keep it cool and safe

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In my 15 years as a professional, I've realized that people love to share and gossip (most of it's harmless). It's a way for people to connect with each other.

Listen without judgment and keep their confidences close to your heart. Maintaining discretion and trust is important for a healthy employee-HR relationship.

A word of caution, though — do not under any circumstances ignore gossip that is malicious and harmful to organizational work culture!

As HR, it will be in your job description to remind employees about strict policies regarding the right to privacy and maintaining a vibrant and safe company culture.

Quiz: What would you do?

Image shows few people sitting near a laptop and discussing something Photo by Headway on Unsplash

An employee has suddenly been coming late to work and has several complaints of rude behavior against him. How would you approach this problem?

  • Scenario 1: Fire him.

  • Scenario 2: Call him in for a meeting.

  • Scenario 3: Issue a disciplinary letter for misconduct.

  • Scenario 4: Do nothing.


Which scenario would you choose?

Tip 4: There will be many challenging conversations

HR isn't an easy job. It comes with a host of difficult decisions to make and challenging conversations to be had. If you intend to choose HR as a career choice, in that case handling challenging conversations will be the norm rather than an exception.

People in business attire sitting at a conference room table.

You will encounter:

  • Employee termination.

  • Disciplinary or legal action against employees, vendors, and partners.

  • Communicating repercussions for poor performance to employees.

  • Handling and reasoning with disgruntled and overworked employees.

  • Helping your organization reach mutually acceptable salary negotiations.

  • Navigating the treacherous and difficult waters of labor relations, strikes, and handling employee grievances against management, without seemingly taking sides.

Flaticon Icon which says learn more Don't you worry! You'll learn the ropes slowly but surely, as you're trained within your department in the coming years to handle these challenging conversations.


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