HR on management team?


I would like to get your thoughts on this issue that I currently have.  I am in a standalone HR role, as HR Manager for a small company (35 employees).  When I joined it was a new HR role and they didn't really know how big the role would be, in terms of hours mainly.  Its a part time role, and involves some office management duties although these were an add-on because they were worried I wouldn't be busy enough.

The role has grown and gone from being what was initially a fairly administrative role to provider the managing director with advice on a number of complex issues (settlement agreement with a Director being the most recent  one!).  I have over 20 years of HR experience and they realised quite early that I was capable of doing more.  

I attend some of the management meetings however I now feel that I should be a part of the management team and I am not sure if anyone else has had experience of having to convince senior leaders of your 'worth'!  I know I am valued and the other members of the management team either think I am part of the team or should be.  But the MD is very traditional and sees HR as support, not strategic and that from an operational perspective does not think I need to be in all the meetings.  It's not about status for me, although I do believe I am paid for the role I took on, not the one I am currently doing.  

Anyone else had similar issues? 



  • Have you told the MD how you feel? And what did he say?

    I think largelybpeopke get to be on management teams because they earn the right to be there. Over time if you continue to add value and contribute well at the meetings you are invited to then others will increasing question your absence when you are not there.

    But... 35 is still very small and I would expect a small tight management team maybe without HR and is the "real" issue here pay?
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thanks Keith. I plan to bring it up at my 1-2-1 next week but just want to clarify my thinking first! It's not about pay as such, although I do want to be both recognised and rewarded for my contribution. I joined at a lower level than I have previously been in because it had to fit with family commitments but the role has grown since then. I also feel like I am treated like a member of the team but not really part of it. I think the real issue here is that the MD has a view of HR that doesn't fit with mine and no matter what I do he may not understand that HR has a bigger role to play.
  • In reply to Sienna:

    Then demonstrate over time it has. But remember you have worked for bigger organisations and this is only 35 people. So requirements and structures are likely to be simpler.
  • In reply to Sienna:

    Hi Sharon

    Are you me? I also work for a small company and I have found that the expectations of HR are very different to a larger company.

    At times I also feel the input I have is that of management level and I too am treated as part of the senior team but I have no actual influence over any decisions or business direction. I imagine this can be very frustrating for someone who wants to progress in that direction but I think it's pretty standard in smaller companies for Directors to not want or need 'outsiders' to have any input into the actual running of the business.

    I personally feel (and I bet my Director would agree!) that the complex issues I have given guidance on such as settlements, capability dismissals and so on are just part of my role as HR support and not necessarily a senior level task so if it were me I'd perhaps steer clear of using that as part of any justification and concentrate on what you could assist with from a strategic angle.

    Thinking back to my CIPD study days maybe you could put together some sort of report/analysis on industry trends and whats going to affect your sector in 2017/18, look at current workforce for any trends in attrition that you could advise on, any improvements to bring sickness down if its a problem and so on and present it as something you had a personal interest in for your CPD but you thought it may be also of interest to him/her?

    As it happens my Directors view of HR is exactly mine (ie I dont have any current desire to help drive the business forward or be part of the management team, I enjoy the hands-on aspect and 'front line' too much) and I think ultimately you would have a long battle to change your Directors mindset if they feel the same.

    In all of this though if you have been taken on as an Administrator level with Admin level pay then I think that is possibly a separate issue and you being involved in more complex issues could definitely be used as justification for a salary review. If you have an appraisal coming up perhaps bring it up then which may naturally lead to a conversation about your remit?
  • In reply to Samantha:

    Thanks Samantha! I really appreciate that, very helpful and interesting how smaller companies view HR differently. I have my appraisal next week so I need to get my thinking (and words!) in order before then!
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    16 Jan, 2017 12:29

    In reply to Sienna:

    Good luck, Sharon :)
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Hi Sharon

    I have found the posts quite interesting to read and to see it from your perspective as someone who joined a small company in the HR role and feels limited in your progression within the company.

    I am the General Manager of a small dynamic construction company who is looking to recruit an HR Manager. At the moment, I undertake the HR role but it has now reached a point where we need someone to take on this role, although we are not ready for it to be a full time.

    I am considering both employing someone part time or looking for an HR consultant to take on a contract.

    I see the benefit of employing someone is that they can grow with us as we expand. I am concerned that part time may not suit a large number of people and that this may limit our recruiting someone.

    Does anyone have any advice on what might be the best way forward?
  • In reply to Annie:

    Hi Annie

    If you are a small company I would say to recruit someone permanent rather than a consultant so they can really get to know how you work, the managers and the employees and they are more likely to have an active interest and be invested in the business rather than just providing a service that they invoice for.

    Part time HR? I think you will have your hand snapped off tbh, its a sector that's typically dominated by females and most I have met have young families. I yearned YEARNED!!! for a PT HR role and only ever saw the one advertised suitable for me (luckily I got it :) )

    I use a piece of recruitment software called Workable, its $89 for a month and it posts to a lot of the job boards, may be worth a punt to put some feelers out when you are ready to recruit, you can always take the advert down if no joy and try other options. Is there anyone at your company currently that may be interested

    Good luck.
  • In reply to Annie:

    Hi Annie

    Welcome to the Communities!

    My preference would be to have someone in-house who can really get to know your organisation and become one of the team. With a consultant on a contract, they would be called in once a need is perceived but when you are in-house, you can pick things up while situations are just developing. You get involved at the planning stage rather than brought in as a bolt-on extra after the team has come up with a plan - that gets a better result for the business. Also, I wonder whether people would try and deal with things themselves rather than incur costs by calling on the consultant? On the other hand, there are some terrific consultants out there and building relationships with their clients must be one of the skills they develop. Many consultants contribute to these threads, so I hope we'll get some of them posting views for you to consider.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 689 Posts

    17 Jan, 2017 18:41

    In reply to Elizabeth:

    Hi Elizabeth

    Many thanks for your thoughts on this topic. Very helpful.

    i would just say that I was thinking of using a consultant on say 20 hours a week working each week with us which might get round some of the issues you have mentioned with going down that route.

    But I do agree with you that someone on the team, even on a part time basis, would work well and they could grown with our company as our needs grow.
  • In reply to Anonymous:

    One of the challenges here is that the type of person you may need in "set up" mode to get off the ground and get everything up and running may not be the same person you need for maintenance mode and gradual but steady growth. That's where it "Might" be a good idea to get an experienced consultant in to set everything up and then hand over to a maintainer.

    Some of the issues identified by Sharon in her original post are down to having a mismatch (in some ways) between need and expectation....
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 689 Posts

    18 Jan, 2017 09:11

    In reply to Keith:

    Hi Keith

    Many thanks for your comments and it is a challenge to find the right person to join our team.

    We do have systems in place which we have set up over the last 10 years with the help of a company offering HR support, but they can always be improved.
    We are going through a period of rapid expansion and hence the need to have someone to take on the role more in-house, although it will be part time initially.

    i am exploring both part time employed and consultant to move forward.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous | 689 Posts

    18 Jan, 2017 09:17

    In reply to Samantha:

    Hi Samantha

    Very pleased to hear that you think I will have no trouble recruiting a part time HR Manager. I was concerned that it would not be of interest.

    I have already put the feelers out and have a job advertised on line in a couple of places and will see the response that I get. We are probably only needing 12 hours a week initially so probably 3 days a week for 4 hours might work for us and as you suggest someone with HR experience but with a young family.

    I am also continuing to explore the option of a consultant.

    But your advice is most helpful.
  • interesting discussion. I come from a finance background, though am often the only senior finance person in an organisation - and also deal with trying to convince senior colleagues of the scope of what this function contributes.

    One reflection is that people mention some of the "high level" issues that are being dealt with -(eg settlement agreement) - but the examples are quite reactive. If one is reacting to a situation, then as long as the situation is identified properly, then there's no need to be in the room (MT) from the start.

    The place i struggle with the most, is convincing people that - if i'm informed of something early on, then i have a role to help shape it, rather then being brought in to make other other people's ideas a reality. I try and find opportunities to be pro active, and take strategic initiatives that respond to wider dynamics within the organisation and the external world; they are difficult to spot though.
  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Hi Annie

    I would definitely agree with Samantha that you are likely to have a lot of interest in a part time HR position! I was very lucky to find another part time HR role when I was made redundant, but looking around made me realise how rare this type of opportunity is - which is a shame.

    One thing to also keep in mind is that if you bring in a part time HR person in the early stages on relatively few hours, you may well find that as your business grows your HR bod will want to do more hours and this would cover your need for more HR support.

    Obviously I'm making sweeping generalisations here and thinking of my own circumstances, but the part time working arrangement I needed when my children were very small is completely different from what I need now that they are at school, and this will change again as they get older.

    Hope that helps.