How to Put Together a Great HR Team

“We’re puttin’ the band back together.”

That’s a classic line from the movie The Blues Brothers that is used more than once as Jake and Elwood go around and visit past band mates in the attempt to, well, put the band back together.

I was reminded of this concept last week when I got a call from a former peer I worked with at another company. This peer just got a new position as an HR executive for a large company,  and he was attempting to put our “HR Band” back together!

I’m not sure if I was the first call or fifth call – it doesn’t really matter – but what does matter is the concept of how you build a great HR Team.

The 5 people you need for your HR team

Here are the ingredients:

Article Continues Below
  1. Great Leader – this is someone who has organizational influence (hopefully, the right or left hand of the CEO) and has a vision of what makes an organization a great place to work, and the desire and passion to take the organization there. The last part is important; I’ve worked for leaders that had the vision, but didn’t have the passion to get it there. You need a leader who is going to carry that flag!
  2. A Talent Guy/Gal – If you only have money for two ingredients, I’m spending my money on someone who understands how to bring great talent into an organization, and, has shown in their past the ability to do this. Again, this is about getting leaders aligned under a talent-mindset where everyone is working under one guiding principle – To Increase The Talent of the Organization. You don’t get to great (your leader’s vision) with average talent. It just doesn’t work that way.
  3. A top HRIS Pro – Every organization has limited resources, and a great HRIS (human resource information system) person is worth their weight in gold for the simple fact that they’ll help you do more with less better than any other person you hire. If you are building a top notch HR team, you need the best HRIS person you can find!
  4. An HR Brand Manager – Many organizations let marketing do this, but on my team, I’m not giving this away because it’s too important. Don’t get me wrong; this person must be aligned with my marketing department. I don’t want to go off the reservation on my messaging between my employment brand and corporate brand, but I also don’t want marketing controlling my employment brand completely. Great places to work, get there by attracting the kind of person your organization seeks to make it great – and this happens through marketing.
  5. An HR Process Manager — I don’t want my leader to be a process person – they are the visionary – but I need the details, I need the process, I need this baby running like a clock! That takes a special personality to dig into and perfect all those details. Yes, I need a process person. This is a person who isn’t going to roll over, but fight for every dotted “i” and crossed “t.” A person who is going to make me sit through a three hour process flow meeting on my hiring process so that we know every piece is going to work perfectly. Why? Because that gives you high credibility within the organization.

You give me these five individuals and I’ll change your HR organization into a great places to work in 12-24 months – depending on how screwed up you are!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


2 Comments on “How to Put Together a Great HR Team

  1. These are very desirable traits for each person in an HR team. Yet, when there is an “HR department of One” – it’s a huge challenge to cover it all.  It’s unrealistic for many mid-sized employers to think one or two HR employees should be experts at everything.  

  2. Great post, Tim.  I agree with @GeorgiaHR – when there’s a limited number of team members, you truly have to go the strong Generalist route. Thanks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *