I don\’t know how many of you know it, but I\’m an HR assistant. Yes, I occupy that prestigious rung of the HR career ladder just above weasels and interns. I jest, of course, but not overly so. It\’s often been said that Gen Y thinks they deserve immediately what it took others years to attain. I usually scoff at that sort of generalization; however, my HR assistant job is one of those times in my life that I actually bear a resemblance to my generational cohort. No, I don\’t think I should be groomed for the CEO position just yet, but I do want to move up in my responsibilities as an HR professional.
I want to step up to important things, but a recent interaction showed me just how unprepared I was for the “big leagues.” Two of my senior HR coworkers were discussing a thorny issue, and I listened intently, gathering as much information as I could. As if by some unspoken agreement, they then both turned and asked me (the HR assistant, mind you) how I would handle the situation if I were in charge.
Wow. My heart fluttered a bit. And I may or may not have broken out into a sweat. (Hey, it is summertime in Alabama, so cut me some slack!)
I eventually gave my verdict, but as I said before, it showed me just how unprepared I am to move up just yet. However, I have found an interesting way to learn and grow in my position. And I discovered it by accident.
I had to go over to our storage area to toss our oldest employee files and make room for some new ones. As I was going through the old ones, I came across more than a dozen thick, monstrous files full of interesting documentation. I realized then that instead of waiting for another learning situation to pop up, I could do some research on issues that had already occurred and discuss those with my peers. I got the okay from my supervisor, and starting this week, I\’m going to peruse one of these employee files every week, look for clues and information, and form conclusions based on the available data. Then I’ll discuss those ideas with one of my senior peers to get some feedback. It’s like a scrimmage before the real game, and I think I’m going to learn a lot!
I know that professionals from all steps in the grand scheme of things read this blog, so I\’d like to ask those of you who hold a supervisory role to see if you can do something similar to develop your own HR assistants (or whatever you call the supporting staff in your HR department). If you\’re one of the new HR professionals, then try to speak with your supervisor and get plugged into the events around you. If you don\’t take charge of your career, then don\’t expect someone else to!
While school can teach you how to memorize a bunch of stuff, it certainly can\’t give you much practice in employee relations and other real-life issues that don\’t have a single, clear answer. How did the rest of you get started? Were you mentored steadily? Thrown to the wolves? Still learning? I’d love to hear more ideas.