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Professional HR for small businesses

If you’re a small business, managing human resources can be a challenge. Yes, your smaller workforce can be easier to manage but it also means you probably have no dedicated HR director/officer/administrator and the whole HR remit is often done ad hoc, as an add-on to somebody’s official role, and maybe only when spare time is available (possibly never).

If you’re wondering, So what? then take a moment to remind yourself that without HR management, no business that needs staff survives. Hiring people? HR. Making sure people are doing the job they were hired to do (and then paying them for that)? HR. Ensuring the workforce has the skills to do the job (both now and in the future)? HR.

And so on.

The reality is, no matter how small your business, if you have employees or workers, you’re dealing with HR issues all day. The question is, how are you dealing with them? Well? Or not well? If only there was a single document that clearly stated what good HR practice is…

The CIPD’s Profession Map

The UK’s professional HR body has attempted to encapsulate the whole HR profession in one place. The CIPD Profession Map lays HR bare, from its overall purpose (“…to champion better work and working lives,”) to its underpinning values (driven by outcomes, led by principles, and based on evidence) to the necessary individual skills and knowledge.

On the surface, this might seem a bit overkill for a business with half a dozen (or even a few dozen) employees… but it does summarise HR best practice: the roles and functions that should be covered in an exemplary HR organisation; i.e. an organisation that gets this ‘people stuff’ right and as a result, is much less likely to end up on the wrong end of a tribunal

Do you need to do it all, meet every criteria on the map? No. of course not. A profession that is all about people simply cannot be prescriptive – people are too diverse for that and the specific nature of your business and your workforce should determine what’s right for you.

However, where the Profession Map comes into its own for smaller organisations is as a checklist to ensure your people management practices are in the right direction. For example, what behaviours are appropriate…

Core HR behaviours

The eight headings in this section are:

  • Situational decision-making – Making effective and pragmatic decisions or choices based on the specific situation or context.
  • Insights focused – Asking questions and evaluating evidence and ideas, to create insight and understand the whole.
  • Passion for learning – Demonstrating curiosity and making the most of opportunities to learn, improve and innovate.
  • Commercial drive – Using a commercial mindset, demonstrating drive and enabling change to create value.
  • Working inclusively – Working and collaborating across boundaries, effectively and inclusively, to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Valuing people – Creating a shared purpose and enabling people development, voice and well-being.
  • Professional courage and influence – Showing courage to speak up and skilfully influencing others to gain buy-in.
  • Ethical practice - Building trust by role-modelling ethical behaviour, and applying principles and values consistently in decision-making.

Straight away, you can see that much of this is probably already happening in some fashion. HR isn’t separate to the real world of business, it just brings a practical perspective that says, business doesn’t happen without people). Likewise the other sections – such as Core Knowledge and Specialist Knowledge – while they may be full of detail (arguably too full for a smaller organisation) they make excellent checklists to assess whether you’re on the right track, HR-wise.

The CIPD Profession Map - you don’t have to be an HR professional to use it.

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