The dos, don’ts and disciplines of HR

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Some people cause problems. Others sit back watching those problems get worse. And then there’s Lianne Vineberg

She’s been solving sticky situations since she began her career in marketing a few years back. Soon enough, she realised recruiting would suit her proactive nature a bit better, so joined Thorek Scott & Partners in Toronto. 

6 years later (and with a plethora of P&C experiences under her belt), Lianne went in-house. And what do you know? Yet more problems to solve! (Let’s just say, expensive, underpar support for teams did not sit well with this go-getter).

This prompted Lianne and her partner to launch T6 Talent Partners, a Toronto-based firm offering recruitment, HR advisory and training

She’s done a lot. So we talked a lot. About why listening is everything in HR, how to advise (not baby) managers and where to start if you want to pitch into P&C.

How problem solving paved the path to P&C

Like we said: problems don’t stand a chance in front of Lianne. And it’s this inability to let things lie that changed the course of her career.

‘The irony of that whole journey was how it led me into the P&C side as well [because] it doesn’t normally happen [like that],’ she recalls. ‘But working there [at Thorek Scott & Partners)…and partnering with these clients so closely, we started being asked ‘Can you sit in on a meeting? Can you give us some advice? Can you talk about this?’ 

‘And the more you get involved as a recruiter, the more you realise how much more there was than just throwing candidates at the wall and hoping they stick.’

Same story with her in-house experience where she says the ‘out of control’ fees and ‘terrible’ support for teams made her realise there had to be a different way.

‘I was like, well, if no one else is going to solve this problem, then I’m going to.’

Lianne, we are far from surprised.

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Why understanding P&C makes you a better recruiter (and vice versa)

Lianne goes further, actually. She doesn’t think they’re separate at all.

My opinion is one should never be without the other,’ she tells us. ‘If you’re a recruiter who doesn’t fundamentally understand how our company operates in P&C, then you won’t be a very good recruiter.

‘And if you’re a P&C person who doesn’t fundamentally understand the realities of recruitment, then you won’t be a very good leader over there, either.’

So…is the career advice here to do both jobs at the same time? Not necessarily, says Lianne, though it does happen at some organisations.

What you do have to be is deeply, deeply aware of what’s going on and you have to have blurred lines at some point,’ Lianne divulges. ‘I would say I’ve never left one or the other – I think they’re so intertwined.’

Less of a transition from TA to P&C; more about embracing both.

Bringing your expertise forward

Thinking about a move from TA to P&C? Don’t throw your hard-won skills out the window before you get there, Lianne advises.

‘The number one thing you can do when you’re making that change or you’re bringing that [P&C] piece into you role is to think about ‘What do I want to fix from all the people I’ve talked to, from all the issues I’ve seen…and from working so closely with my hiring teams?. What do I know are some of the things we fundamentally have to change as an organisation?’

‘You have so much information that can help them be better…so bring your expertise forward.’

Always be an advisor

What’s great about this piece of career advice is that as a TA expert, you’re already doing it.

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If you’re a great recruiter, you’re an advisor to every hiring manager and hiring team you work with,’ Lianne reminds us. ‘And if you build really great relationships where they come to you, they talk to you and it’s transparent, you know what’s going on. You’re having those really great conversations.

You also learn how to manage communications with candidates in a really gentle way and you’re not afraid to talk to the stakeholders or bring up ideas,’ Lianne continues. ‘All of that together will help you tenfold in an HR role.

‘To now be able to sit at a table and drive things forward…in my opinion, that was the best thing for me.’

You better not be organising the office party

You probably shouldn’t even go to the social events, let alone orchestrate them, Lianne believes (and she’s strict, ok?)

‘HR is not there to order snacks…or plan a party. That is not what they do,’ she says firmly. ‘And the more people who…do that, the more detriment they’re causing to the entire ecosystem of professionals.

‘HR is not an office manager.’

A fair point. 

HR isn’t the office mum

Mums are good at dispensing advice (welcome or not), but treating employees as your children is where Lianne draws a line.

‘I don’t want 100 adult children,’ Lianne tells us. ‘That’s not what I signed up for and I’m not going to play.

Again, it comes back to the advice.

I’m a big believer that your manager should be managing their people…so I work very hard to say to people ‘Here are some strategies, I think you should go back and talk to them.’

‘We make sure that our people are safe, thriving and growing…and our goal is always to make people better,’ Lianne explains. ‘But at the end of the day, we’re not a family…this is business.’

And in any business, there’ll be conflict. Something Lianne says could be avoided (at least some of the time) with the right feedback.

Feedback is a gift

Use it, urges Lianne.

‘I try very hard to stay in the background as much as humanly possible…but if you bring me a problem…and it gets to a point where nothing is changing, of course I’m going to step in,’ she says. ‘But I really do believe a lot of these formal sit downs and those real ‘a ha’ moments for the employee [may not have happened if] they’d been able to get really specific feedback and very actionable next steps.’

(That’s a really important point, btw. If you’re giving feedback as an HR person, you must back it up with a realistic, achievable plan).

‘If you are a people operations manager, or an HR generalist, you are in charge of peoples’ growth and development,’ Lianne says. ‘If you’re giving them hard feedback, you have to give them a plan…and you have to work with them to fix it.

‘Otherwise, that’s just being a bully.’

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Listening 80% of the time

This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about listening (yes we get the irony in that sentence). It won’t be the last, either, because Lianne is also a lover of listening

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Once again, though, if you’re turning from TA to P&C, your ears are well practised.

I think recruiting forces you to listen and I always say the candidate should be talking for 80% of the interview,’ Lianne states. 

And when leaders turn to you for HR advice and support, those skills will kick into gear.

‘You are a facilitator at almost every table you’re at…and I think the question I asked all the time in interviews is probably the same question I ask now which is ‘can you tell me a little bit more?’

‘I ask leading questions…[like] ‘Why are you saying that? What’s the impact of that?’ So that’s a skillset you should definitely bring over as a leader,’ Lianne adds. ‘You are there to help them make a decision – you are not there to make the decision for them

‘Your job is to get to the heart of the problem and get an understanding of what’s actually happening.’

And if you’re chit chatting instead of listening, you’re making life a whole lot trickier.

Mulling over a move from TA to P&C? Start slow

If you’re feeling like popping into new pastures, there’s no need to rush from recruiting, Lianne assures us.

I would say start slowly…and try to get your hands a bit dirty, so that when you make that transition, you have a foundation.’

Whether you put your hand up for compensation planning, performance management or onboarding, you’ll be better placed to make your mark in P&C.

‘Be able to say ‘I want a seat at this table. I have the data – here’s what we need to think about.’ Then, once you get a seat at the table, it’s much easier,’ Lianne concludes.

For more interesting insights, information and ideas about your career, get your ears into our Moving from Talent Acquisition to People & Culture podcast. It’s chock-full of tips, tricks and advice from talented people just like Lianne – and it’s available now!

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