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When is it time to hire a full-time HR person?

Tackling transparency and proximity

I must admit I have never had to write as much as I have during the past few months. This exercise has definitely taught me the value of effective communication. Transparency is a challenge and we are embracing it, but at times clarity is required.

During the leadership changes within Trimark, our senior team did everything to ensure a smooth transition. I have worked alongside our past president for many years and have the utmost respect and admiration for his talents and leadership. As I worked to define a full-time HR role within the company, I sought the opinions of many individuals on our past and present leadership team.

Frankly, age had nothing to do with the decision; however experience and seniority did. We debated having a senior human resources professional vs. someone middle level who might be growing in his or her career. We still depend on David Town of Town & Associates, our HR consultant who was engaged by our past president. David has worked out really well for us - helping us, for example, to raise our health and safety standards, initiating training on internal dialogue and establishing our annual employee surveys, among other things.

We analyzed our needs and determined that while we may require an experienced HR manager for some issues, we felt we could still rely on David. As a result, I concluded our goal was to find someone with about five years experience, someone we could continue to train and empower. David compliments our senior management team, but we wanted someone who could engage our front-line staff.

Today our HR manager, Stacy Marshall, is contributing to many areas, both at a senior level with the management team and as a member of our employee council, through which she is gaining a solid understanding of our culture. Together we are working to develop a new training program for our staff, enhancing the working environment and breaking down any communication barriers.

By working with all our various departments, Stacy has created a new floor plan to maximize communication between different groups. We are rolling out the new plan over the next few weeks and creating open-concept meeting areas to further improve cross-departmental communication. As a result, all our customer-facing teams are now within earshot of each other, enabling them to work together to solve any customer call. We anticipate that our staff will also be better suited to cross-train each other and share more information.

The floor plan also co-ordinates our product teams with our supply chain and logistics teams to ensure that vendor information is also shared effectively.

We are evolving, and our new HR department will clearly enhance our growth in both size and spirit.