Being the first hire in the People Operations department for SGS Agency, James shares how he starts processes from scratch and juggles his responsibilities as a one-man team. He is the IT person, HR administrator, events planner and the guy people to talk to when they have problems.
My previous role was more operations-focused. I graduated with an economics degree and was more recently the operations manager of a startup for five years. I mostly handled the HR and financial side of things there and I really loved the HR aspect of my job. I liked how people in people-teams can be creative and are faced with more varied challenges – that’s why I chose to get into people operations.
A typical morning is a meeting with the CEO as we run through our pipeline for recruitment, contracts, financials, book-keeping and next-steps for our processes. Recently we have been building out new internal HR policies which I think is also good to review often.
After that, I’ll do tasks like working with our payroll company to source better benefits for our employees and planning out little events like our happy hour every Thursday. At the end of the day, my schedule is more open to meet with people in case they need anything.
There will constantly be a million things on your plate and priorities will continue to change as new things are added. Time management is the most important asset in this role. Knowing how to break things into segments so that you’re productive is important.
I would say being a good listener and decision-maker is just as important. Communication is key to this job because people look to you when they need to voice concerns or for guidance on processes, solutions, and answers.
As someone in the people operations team I do whatever helps retain our talent. By nature, an agency is a revolving door and people can come and go because of the number of clients and easy burnout. I establish goals that can create better ways to reward people and so on.
I love the people! I appreciate the wide range of characters and I spend many days outside of work having drinks and dinners with my coworkers. I think being able to have fun with the people you work with is the best part.
Don’t be too hung up on the little things and never take your job too personal. When you let the little things bother you, they add up into a lot of negativity. In a “people” role, criticism comes your way, be it about the company, supervisors or even yourself. Don’t be discouraged, find a solution – that’s your job.