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CEOs & Business Owners: You’re Hiring the Wrong HR Person

Author: Greg Boles


Ditch the One-Size-Fits-All Approach to HR


If people are your most important business asset (and they should be!), then it’s time to ditch the one-size-fits-all approach to HR.  CEOs and owners try this → Rethink what skills and responsibilities you need from your HR leader. Asking one person to tackle all of the demands presented by both the new world of work and the future of business is a fruitless endeavor. Focus on exactly what you need to take your company to the next level and hire accordingly. 

Where to Start 

CEOs and business owners will often lump all aspects of HR into a single role and get mediocre results across the board. This is a mistake. The old one-size-fits-all approach no longer applies. Today’s HR department is a lot more than just a job listing factory. The skills needed are much more diverse and varied than ever before. So don’t expect your HR leader to do everything. Start by identifying your specific needs.  Is it recruiting? Training? Employee engagement? Once you’ve outlined your requirements, pick one or two that are your organizational priorities. Match your unique challenges with an HR leader that has the relevant skills and experience to tackle these focus areas. 

Top 5 HR Focus Areas to Consider


It can be a challenge to identify your specific HR needs, so we’ve put together a list to get you started. We realize that every organization is different, and your requirements may vary, but in our experience, the below five focus areas tend to be the most common and the most important. Remember, the goal isn’t to find a single person to tackle all five, but instead focus on one or two based on your specific organizational needs. This is the only way you can ensure that you hire the right person who can accomplish your unique business goals. 

1. Compliance & Risk Management

This is typically a technical role dedicated to areas including hiring, firing, HR handbooks, disciplinary actions, OSHA, benefits, employee fed & state compliance, harassment, etc.  It is an important component of any HR department, but note that the skill sets required may be very different from other needs in your organization (e.g. culture, employee engagement). So, unless it is an area that you are struggling the most with at your company, you may consider relegating this position to a secondary departmental role instead of tasking an HR leader with this responsibility. 

2. Recruiting

In order to grow your business and adapt to the changing marketplace – you need the right talent! This very important responsibility is dedicated to job listings and descriptions, identifying openings, managing applicants, mapping out the average cost per hire, etc. In the past, this role was seen as highly technical or task-oriented, but increasingly, the skills required to successfully staff a business for the future favor a much more goal-oriented communicator.  This person should not only be great with people, but should be able to properly communicate the benefits of working at your company, understand the future growth strategy of your organization, and be able to identify the right talent to accelerate growth. It is also essential for the health and longevity of your business, to ensure that diversity & inclusion are a big part of your recruiting efforts. If you’re growing at a rapid pace, are suffering from the impacts of the Great Resignation, or are lacking in diverse perspectives or innovative thinking, a key focus area for your HR leader may fall in this category. 

3. Training

This can also be referred to as talent development. The responsibilities of this role include serving as an employee advocate and coach, conducting performance reviews and employee ratings, upskilling, and identifying investments needed to support the development of your team.  The skills needed for this focus area often differ from the more technical compliance & risk management role. If you are struggling with preparing your employees for the future of your business, developing your leadership team, or retaining top talent, this may be an area to prioritize when searching for the right HR executive.  However, if you simply need dependable department-level training for new hires and turnover replacements, this is most often done by department leads, managers, and directors for most middle-market companies.

4. Culture

With the Great Resignation not going anywhere any time soon, culture is becoming an increasingly important reason why employees choose to stay (or leave).  The person responsible for culture at your organization should be focused on employee engagement and building trust. Look for someone who will live the company values and communicate them daily. They will be in charge of employee recognition and awards, listening and collecting feedback, hosting town halls and events, encouraging organizational change based on employee needs, and much more. Diversity & Inclusion responsibilities also lie here, requiring this person to have a keen understanding of implicit bias, social justice issues, and organizational learning.  If your company is suffering from an increase in turnover, or unproductive or disengaged employees, this may be an important focus area.  

5. Strategy

HR strategy is a valuable and often overlooked competency. The responsibilities of this role focus on change management, as well as organizational structure and design. This person will identify gaps and redundancies in your org chart and will determine which positions should be insourced or outsourced. This big picture thinker is an important resource for ensuring the business can compete in a rapidly changing marketplace, and be able to communicate and implement these changes throughout the entire organization. If you are finding yourself always one step behind when it comes to the talent and skill sets needed to take your business further faster – this is an area to consider prioritizing. 

Match HR Leaders With Your Unique Needs

Once you identify the one to two priorities that you need help with, seek out and hire an HR leader who is most adept in those areas. Ask specific lines of questions that will help you determine the depth of experience in each. If you are unsure what to focus on  – we recommend always prioritizing those that will drive business growth and development.  The key is to find someone who can deliver in the areas that matter most to you and your business. 

Now’s the time to rethink the outdated one-size-fits-all approach and future-proof your HR department. The success of your business depends on it!

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