• July 2010

Barbara Mitchell explains the power of your human resources executive

By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author
The Essential HR Handbook

Some would say that human resource professionals are just administrators — or worse — just bureaucrats.

In fairness, that stereotype was true when the function of the human resources department was mostly to maintain employee files and plan the company picnic.

Those days are over, however, and in any enlightened organization the HR team does so much more.

The Real Deal

Human resource leaders today are (or should be) fully functioning members of the leadership team, and as such, carry position, power, and more.

In addition to providing critical information about hiring and firing with minimal legal risk and keeping the workforce free of harassment and other unlawful discrimination, a HR specialist is a critical team member when it comes to supporting the organization.

Case in Point

Having a successful hiring practice is essential to the health and growth of a company. Done well, it can build a hard-working, loyal staff. Done poorly, it can increase turnover and cause internal chaos.

In my book, The Essential HR Handbook, my co-author Sharon Armstrong and I talk at length in Chapter 2 about “Optimal Staffing.” We outline everything from reviewing resumes to interviewing applicants.

The power of the professional comes into play here, especially, because to make a successful hire, the HR executive’s job is to clearly describe the job and work environment, and then objectively assess the applicant. Once a candidate is hired, it’s time to celebrate, orient, and assimilate the new staff member.

Hiring C-level executives is critical and the search and assimilation process can be extremely costly. When a C-level employee comes on board, human resource professionals are responsible for developing a well thought out assimilation plan to ensure that the new executive has a smooth entry into the company.

Talk about a powerful role! They can make or break the transition, and, in turn, impact the future of that leader’s role in the company.

Below you’ll find best practice tips on that topic. Have questions? Send me an email. Here’s to your power.

Simple Executive Assimilation Strategies

  • As soon as the new hire has accepted and signed both the offer and a non-disclosure agreement, begin communicating company announcements, bulletins, newsletters or whatever information will make the new executive feel like a part of the organization.
  • Schedule time to meet with the new hire prior to the start date to gather any information that will make the transition successful for that individual. For example, what information does he/she want on a business card? How would he/she like his/her office set up? What information would he/she like to have prior to starting?
  • Develop an assimilation schedule and time table that outlines activities for the first day, first week, first month, and beyond, if necessary. Working with the hiring manager, determine which stakeholders the new executive needs to meet and when. Set up those appointments.
  • Ensure that everything is in place for day one including office set up, technology, name on door, welcome email announcement, etc.
  • Work with the marketing or communications department to develop a press release on the hire to go out on day one.
  • Meet with the team that will be managed by the new executive to hear their concerns.
  • Provide biographical information on key leaders to the new executive and share his/her bio with current leadership.
  • Share any organizational information with the new hire that will make sure he/she feels comfortable (dress code, pitfalls to avoid, informal communication networks, etc.).


About Barbara Mitchell

Barbara is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known as an expert in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and has consulted to a variety of organizations around the world.

She served in senior human resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.

Barbara is a graduate of North Park University in Chicago, with a degree in history and political science. Contact Barbara by email.

Learn more about her book here: www.theessentialhrhandbook.com.

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