Simple Project Management Strategies to Help Your HR Team

Human Resources always has a reputation for being orderly and consistent. You organize people. You lead difficult conversations. You make key hiring decisions. You deal with the tough personnel issues no one else wants to deal with. Although you may look like you have it all under control, I know that on the inside you might be feeling overwhelmed by the demand of everything you’re carrying on your shoulders for your organization. And that’s when things start to feel chaotic. 

Now more than ever, HR has its own programs to run within the organization. Think about everything that can reside within your HR function. Growing your people in forms of employee training and professional development. Culture building in the form of policies (the “rules”) and company-wide events. Administrative functions such as salary reviews, formal performance review processes, payroll, onboarding/offboarding, and benefits. Don’t forget some of the more traditional HR roles such as resource management, including recruiting, writing job descriptions, and assessing staffing needs. Add a pandemic to the mix and now you’re also the office Covid-19 and remote working experts. 

The kicker is that you need to do all of those things in a way that mitigates risk, communicates empathy, makes your workplace a great place to work, and is within budget. Even though you are HR professionals, you need to think like a project management professional. So where do you start? Implementing just a few key project management strategies will help your HR team and clients run your day-to-day operations more effectively and act faster and more agile. All without adding bureaucracy to your small business. 

Strategy #1: Calendar Management

Let’s start with your calendar, which is most likely overflowing with internal meetings, vendor meetings, and meetings with current and future employees. Because HR programs impact the entire organization, you are in high demand by others as well. Meeting overwhelm is where chaos can get its start, but, the good news is that it can be controlled.

I have found that calendaring – blocking your calendar with what you are going to do when – is a great way to solve some of those challenges. You will find you are more productive, more focused, and more balanced. 

The first thing you want to do on your calendar is block out your personal obligations. Think God (or your spiritual well being), health (workouts and eating properly), family (kid activities, appointments). Even lunch or walking the dog. This way, everything else can be scheduled AROUND it. We are nothing if we don’t take care of ourselves first. 

Don’t forget to schedule breaks in, and if you have appointments, make sure you’re including the travel to and from them. Ever decided to meet somebody half an hour away and somebody came in on your automated calendar system and took that time slot right before it? Make sure that you’re including that travel time.  

The next thing to block is your regular business obligations. Your repeating business processes. If you always go to a networking meeting on Thursdays, then that needs to be set up as a repeating event. Here are some other examples that I recommend setting up as regularly recurring time blocks: 

  • Payroll
  • Responding to emails
  • Invoicing
  • Updating internal policies on a quarterly basis 
  • Performance reviews 

And don’t forget blocking time to plan! I leave the last 15 minutes of each day for confirming the next day’s schedule. I do a ½ hour at the end of each week to plan the following week, and the same at the end of each month for the next month. Calendaring will give you freedom if you work in the structure. 

Strategy #2: Use Software Tools

Everyone under your breath, just repeat after me, email is not a project management tool. When you use email to manage projects, things fall through the cracks, there’s no way to assign things to people, there’s no process of what are the next steps? You really need to be using software.

Imagine if you could to the following: 

  • Have your hiring process documented
  • Provide business owners, stakeholders, and clients insight into current project progress 
  • Understand the productivity of team members and make the case for hiring/not hiring more resources 
  • Have one place (not email) where you can gather feedback on potential hires or employee reviews 
  • Make the recruitment process more visual, e.g., where are candidates in the process?

So here are some software tools I recommend. Teamwork is by far my favorite. We use it for ourselves as well as with many of our clients. Monday.com is also a good one. Beyond the Chaos is a referral partner for Asana, Monday.com and Teamwork.

Asana and Basecamp or your more entry-level places to start. Teamwork is going to be much more advanced. It’s going to add workload features. It’s going to combine your ability to track time and do some invoicing. You can set up project or task templates for recurring tasks such as interviewing, onboarding, training, and offboarding. Some of the others do not have that full functionality. But any of these tools is much, much, much better than trying to manage things through email.

Strategy 3: Process

Process isn’t just bureaucracy. Done right, it can expedite workflows, improve communication, and make success repeatable. Processes can also help improve employee morale. Excess forms, unclear direction, not knowing how and when to do things is a formula for chaos resulting in unhappy employees.  

So what is process? It’s writing down all the little steps that result in a big thing. The details of why you do it or how you do it. It could be directions of switching between one software system and another, or maybe it is an example of how and what the steps are in a process. You might have to explain some ifs, ands, or buts, between each step. So, that’s a process and it’s usually written prose –could be bullets, could be numbered. 

Some simple processes that HR teams might need, as well as details the processes should include are: 

  • Onboarding – What do new hires need to do on the first day, or first week? Where can they find more information about policies and benefits? What tools and equipment do they need access to?
  • Offboarding – What happens when an employee leaves? What systems need to be deactivated? Is there an exit interview? 
  • Yearly performance reviews – What templates or tools do you use? When do you need to send out communications to the organization? When are reviews due and when will performance meetings take place? 
  • Benefits enrollment – When does planning need to start? What is the contact information for your vendors? What is the communication plan? When are employee deadlines? 
  • Writing email templates for recruiting and offers – No need to re-create the wheel with each communication. Creating templates helps automate communications and saves you time. 

Then, once a year, make sure you have a reminder on your calendar to read through all of the documented processes and make sure they are still accurate. Quarterly might be better if you’re growing fast but minimally do it once a year. Creating process is a huge way to pull some chaos out of your business.

Calendar management, software tools, and process development are the best ways to prevent overwhelm in your business. If you use these techniques, you are more likely to run a consistent, successful team and keep your clients happier. Not all small business owners are great at managing these steps and that’s where Beyond the Chaos comes in. If you need some relief from the day-to-day, email us today at [email protected].

This guest post is provided by Susan Fennema. She is the Chaos Eradicating Officer at Beyond The Chaos, a consultancy helping small business owners to simplify their operations and manage their projects so that they can grow their business and get their lives back.