One of the questions HR professionals considering working with us often ask me is what kind of work they’d be doing. Very sensible, to get a proper idea of what their working life will ‘look’ like rather than just wanting to know about marketing support and finances.
I am always very honest about that, because it’s important to get a true picture. And if you’re an HR professional who loves working on big strategic programmes or initiatives in bigger organisations with big budgets, this probably isn’t right for you. Although there is certainly strategy involved, there is a lot of ‘ordinary’ HR work, disciplinaries, grievances, absence management, performance management, all those things. If you’ve left that behind, or want to, you’re not going to be able to avoid it if you choose to work with small businesses like we do. That’s the reality.
But although it’s ‘ordinary’ work, it’s really extraordinary, or a lot of it is. And it’s not boring, never boring. There can be so many complicating and unique factors managing what could be an ‘ordinary’ situation when you’re working with a small business. Multi-faceted and complex relationships (tried managing out someone who is an employee, a director and a shareholder? Or who is divorcing from their co-business owner?), people who have worked together a very long time and are very invested in the business, and people who are family or long-term friends working together and it’s gone sour.
Lack of procedures and processes has often made what was an ‘ordinary’ performance management or disciplinary issue into something much more challenging. The fact that redeployment is usually not an option means those types of easier routes out are not available. Lack of funds and ‘give’ in resourcing present similar challenges, bringing situations to a head sooner than they otherwise might. Exceptional creativity is frequently needed in problem-solving.
A business owner who is quite understandably very personally invested in his or her business can find it difficult to see the wood for the trees sometimes, or to make commercial decisions unclouded by personal feelings. It’s your job to guide them in the right direction. The stakes often feel higher.
And as well as situations which might be ordinary in a different environment becoming extraordinary because of the unique factors applying to small businesses, there is also no shortage of professional technical challenge. Those cases involving multiple potential legal claims, complex or unusual circumstances and requiring application of less commonly-known case law or intricate exploration of the exact wording of legislation are just as likely to happen in a small business as a larger one.
If you’re keen to focus on nice-to-have strategic programmes, and want to avoid day-to-day HR, this won’t be for you. But if you want interesting, challenging and no-two-days-the same HR where you can make a real tangible impact, HR consultancy for small businesses might be the right path to take.
If you’re interested in talking to us about becoming a partner with face2faceHR, with bags of support, do get in touch.