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How the HR Department of One Gains Authority to Make an Impact

hr best practices hr compliance hr department hr essentials hr management Jun 07, 2022

Being an HR Department of One can feel lonely, but there are more out there than you think. The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) estimates that 25 % of their membership is now comprised of HR Departments of one. We know that their annual conference has steadily grown its efforts to address this critical audience.

Often, small HR departments are so focused on getting the work done, they miss the big picture of the business. At the Tuesday and Wednesday presentations of the SHRM 2022 convention, one topic we will cover is the ability to gain authority through credibility, reach, and influence. It’s not always about the title you are given formally. Many HR leaders find that informal authority they gain from employees is even more powerful than a title.

How the HR Department of One Gains Authority through Credibility

Credibility is the confidence that others have in your knowledge of the subject area. This is essential given all the compliance issues in human resources. One of the ways HR leaders find credibility is through the certification process. SHRM recently shared an article by an HR Department of One talking about how important certification was to her success. There are a number of different credentials available today though, so be sure to explore the one that is right for you.

How the HR Department of One Gains Authority through Reach

Connecting with those throughout the organization, at all levels, is a component of reach that can’t be overlooked. And reaching outside the organization for success and options is essential as well. As an HR Department of One, your human capital initiatives can come from others and be adapted for use within your organization. Making those connections will also help you feel like part of a community, not just someone on an island doing it all yourself.

How the HR Department of One Gains Authority through Influence

Having influence is a soft skill you will develop by engaging with others. Be that person inside the organization who can see things with an outsider’s view. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion if you think inventory is not being handled correctly or if you believe a customer should be contacted for additional sales. Your expertise may be in HR, but your influence will come from being a sounding board throughout the organization.

Making an Impact in Business as the HR Department of One

This is just one small part of how you can expand your visibility as an HR Department of One. Know your business metrics and goals – not just those that focus on HR. What is the EBITDA anticipated for the new year. What keeps your leaders up at night? Do your operations teams have plans three years out that will impact Human Capital?

Don’t wait for people to ask – understand the business and participate in conversations as the professional that you are.


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