Ep. 57

Why Your Company Needs Human Resources w/ Remone Robinson

In episode 57, we talked with Remone Robinson about why it’s important to trust HR pros when it comes to people
Remone Robinson

Remone Robinson

Human Resources Business Partner at Pathways
Small Business HR Consultant

If you want to be strategic about your people functions, you can’t just wing it. On this episode of the HR Mavericks podcast, I sat down with Remone Robinson, human resources business partner at Pathways and small business HR consultant, to discuss why it’s important to trust HR pros when it comes to people. Remone recommends that even small businesses invest in a CHRO (chief human resources officer), because having HR present at the executive level shows that your company is committed to investing in its people.

During our discussion, we talked about:

  • The importance of having a dedicated HR person in every business
  • Some of the benefits of hiring a CHRO
  • The right time for a small business to hire a dedicated HR person
  • Things HR pros handle (that non-HR people might not realize)
  • Why it’s important for companies to promote diversity and inclusion
  • How to be assertive—and effective—as an HR department of one
  • Resources that overwhelmed HR professionals can turn to

Find Remone on Instagram

Episode 57 Transcript

You’re listening to HR Mavericks, a weekly podcast, featuring leading small business HR professionals who share their experiences and insights to help you know how to turn your HR processes and employee experience into a strategic business advantage. Let’s get into the show. 

[00:00:00] Garrett Jestice: Welcome to the next episode of the HR Mavericks podcast. I’m Garrett Jestice and today I’m joined by Remone Robinson. Who’s an HR business partner at pathways and also a small business HR consultant, Remone, how are you doing today? 

[00:00:23] Remone Robinson: I am doing well, Garrett, thank you for asking. happy to be here. 

[00:00:27] Garrett Jestice: We’re happy to have you on the show today.

I know you recently found the HR Mavericks community and have just been getting involved in it. So we’re super excited to have you on the show and to learn from you today. 

Thank you. Thank you so much. I, I am obsessed with the concept of HR Maverick, because I like the idea of changing the narrative of HR.

[00:00:46] Remone Robinson: And I think that this is a very 

[00:00:47] Garrett Jestice: Great way to start. Awesome. Well, we share that vision for sure. So before we jump into our topic today, tell our listeners just a little bit more about you and your background. 

[00:00:57] Remone Robinson: Okay. Sure. So I am a dually certified HR professional. So I do have a SHRM certification and an HRCI certification.

I have been doing human resources for the past seven years, I, have consulted in areas like performance management, employee relations, employee engagements, diversity equity and inclusion, employee communication, conflict management, emotional intelligence, compensation, and benefits the list go on and on all the, all those core competencies in HR, I am able to support.

I’m gonna have to turn the podcast hosting over to you here in a minute. Cause I think you’re much more qualified than me on all these topics. So that’s great. 

Thank you. Thank you so much. 

[00:01:43] Garrett Jestice: Well, we’re super excited to have you on the show today. And you know, when you and I talked about, you know, what do we talk about today on this episode, you kind of pitched this idea of a CHRO, or a Chief Human Resources Officer and why every company needs one it’s and it’s a title that definitely exists at many larger companies. It doesn’t exist at many midsize or smaller companies. And we want to talk a little bit about that because you know, you kind of come from the standpoint of every company needs that CHRO.

And so really to start us off on that path, tell us a little bit more about why you wanted to talk about this topic. The reason I wanted to talk about, why all companies need a CHRO is because, having that HR presence in executive leadership and someone that is reporting to the CEO of that organization helps to push the HR agenda in a specific way.

It moves, it creates are responsible or sometimes in other organization they’re called, Chief People Officers , they’re responsible for aligning the strategic people goals, initiatives to those of the organization. And sometimes when there is not that person to represent the people function or HR in organizations, Human Resources professionals that are working in that organization, supporting those organizations, they tend to become burnout.

[00:03:07] Remone Robinson: They become frustrated and they don’t have any form of personal development for themselves. There’s nobody to invest in their career as a person. So they’re, they don’t feel like they’re growing. And so I think that all organizations deserve, CHRO because they help to align those people ops and business ops in all organizations.

[00:03:28] Garrett Jestice: Yeah, I’m so glad that we’re talking about this topic today, Remone. Seriously. I think that one of the things that I have seen, you know, from doing all of these interviews and just working in this space in the last little bit, especially with small businesses, is that too often, HR is an administrative function rather than a strategic function yet almost everyone will tell you, you know, our people are our most important asset and we know we have to take care of our people -there’s just such a disconnect there, you know? So I love this topic, but I do wanna play devil’s advocate a little bit and just push on this topic with you a little bit, right. So why is it that, especially when we talk about small businesses, why don’t you think more small businesses have a CHRO or a CPO, like what’s, you know, preventing them from having this, this role. And also just generally elevating HR, the HR function to be more strategic? 

So I’m gonna say a lot of things, but before I go through that I’m I wanna start from the business aspect and the business standpoint. Having a CHRO or CPO is expensive. I’m gonna, I have to acknowledge that and so for many small businesses starting out, they don’t have that salary in their budget. But what I can also say is being a CHRO or a CPO, it is a mindset as well. So there is some you want to make sure that you can hire an HR professional, with the budget that you have, or an independent contractor or a consultant who is going to align your strategic people functions to that of your business. Because as you mentioned, you know, a lot of companies say, our people are our biggest assets, but they don’t have anybody that is, developing the, the, that, those assets. And so that, that becomes a challenge and as well, the reason for me choosing this topic too, is I worked for organizations where HR professionals reported to different business leaders, like a CFO or a, a COO and it’s, I’m not saying that those people aren’t, you know, great at leadership, but there are some things that they don’t have.

[00:05:35] Remone Robinson: They don’t understand those core HR competencies. And if you’re reporting to someone, who do not have that background, to assist you and, you know, be a resource for you, are you truly developing as an HR professional and that understanding is key. A lot of people also see HR as black and white and so they, it’s a check in the box. I’ve worked for organizations where hiring managers tells me I can do your job. And it’s just hiring and firing people. And I cringe and I, you know, I say, oh, okay. That I have to also respect their point of view. But what I do is I also explain, I say, HR is more than that.

HR is having an understanding of the different state laws, the different federal laws, making sure that all employees are treated fairly, understanding, doing market research for different compensation and making sure that you’re paying people adequately. We’re also responsible for your external presence in the sense of marketing because if you are not treating your employees well, by the click of a button, someone can go on Glassdoor.

Someone can go LinkedIn and say, this company doesn’t treat us well. . And so we are responsible for that entire experience and scrubbingthat all of those negative reviews from the internet, making sure that we’re creating a space. Is an inclusive culture for all people understanding, how to communicate inclusively, for all employees.

So that is something that I would say that, has propelled or driven me to wanting to have this conversation today about, why all organizations need a CHRO. 

[00:07:04] Garrett Jestice: Yeah, no, I think you’re absolutely right. And I can imagine there’s probably small business owners and leaders who are saying, well, I mean, I care about my people.

Like I’m the one who’s taking care of my people as the CEO, or, you know, as a CFO or COO someone who is really, you know, involved in that. And so, what would your response be to, you know, a small business owner or leader that says that I think you hinted at some of it already with, you know, without the full context and experience across different HR disciplines.

There’s pitfalls that even a well-intentioned leader can come up across, but you know what, explain that a little bit more to us. What would you say to a small business owner with that mindset? 

I would say, I am not being accusatory. I’m not saying that you don’t care about people, but do you have that deep background into understanding how people are, and what motivates them to come to work and you know how to keep them engaged and understanding that it’s not a one size fits all for different people.

[00:08:01] Remone Robinson: You have to understand each and every employee and sometimes, organizations do, like they say, okay, we’re having an employee engagement activity and it is It is linked to their personal preferences or their cultural backgrounds. And they don’t understand like, you know, they have different employees and you know, this is now a global market and employees are from different backgrounds.

And so that this is where HR comes in, to say, okay, let’s make a diversity calendar. Let’s do some of these things let’s learn about these different backgrounds. So yes, you have this like, I know for some organizations that I’ve worked with in the past, they had like, they would put up, like, christmas decorations and, you know, use the word Christmas.

And I would look at it and I would, you know, cringe. And I would say, what about your, you know, Christmases? You know, I know that it’s a big thing in our, you know, in our culture. And, you know, though, I may though personally, I may celebrate Christmas, somebody else may not. And so this is now where religion creeps in and it’s just to make them aware of those those personal biases that we have just starting with those little things. and, you know, beginning those conversations will be like, oh, you know, because they may not also be doing it to be malicious. This is just their personal experience. And this is what is a part of their culture.

So they think that, you know, everybody else would appreciate this, but, you know, that may offend someone. Sure. And so, That is why HR is important. And that is why we say we, we go deeper than beyond just caring for people, but understanding people and their backgrounds and making sure that we’re ensuring that workplaces are being inclusive.

[00:09:33] Garrett Jestice: Yeah, that’s such great points. I mean, I think that, you know, not only is it like, like we talked about previously, not only is it an administrative function, right. Where you gotta check the box on certain things, there’s a lot of compliance related things, but it’s also a strategic function. It’s how do you attract and retain the best people to help your business grow and how do you help them be most productive and feel a part of something bigger than themselves, because ultimately that’s gonna produce the best business outcomes. Right. And that’s not something that you can, you know, haphazardly just hope cross your fingers and hope that it happens. Right. it’s something that truly is strategic and it takes someone with expertise, just like you would hire an expert in to lead your sales or your marketing or whatever it is, you know, if your people are your most important asset, it’s important to make sure that you treat them as such and approach them from a strategic standpoint, how you take care of them.

So I, I love that. So the next question I have for you really is, as a small business grows, when should a small business hire someone either with the CHRO or CPO title, or just someone who can own the people operations HR related stuff from a more strategic standpoint, like, is there a certain size? I know it varies across industry and company type and everything, but, you know, as you talk to small businesses, when would you advise them to really start looking for and hiring for that? 

[00:11:03] Remone Robinson: I would say, if I should give a number, I would say 50, I think, you know, once you reach 50 employees, that is, that at that point in time, you have a lot of different personalities.

At that point in time, you will have like a different, a lot of different reporting, different reporting structures. I think for me personally, I think that you need a dedicated HR person from you are designing your business, but I get that may not always be the case.

[00:11:30] Remone Robinson: And my recommendation is to have a consultant. if you can’t afford so you can have an independent contractor where you pay her project, because having that expert atrial knowledge from the foundation of your business is important, but I understand that there are also some budgetary constraints when you’re starting a business.

And so I believe that once you reach 50 employees, you should be able to, you know, hire somebody that is dedicated to HR, as well, and then make sure that you are of the understanding as well that HR professionals are not just here to do an administrative, just their roles aren’t just gonna be solely administrative.

So don’t, say, okay, the administrative assistant that we hired when the business started is great. You can be your HR manager or you can be, and that is not the only, that is not the only thing that they’re supposed to do. They’re supposed to have course like a background and, you know, different certifications, different education, different experience in HR, that can help your build your business to progress so you don’t want to take someone that is new to HR, to progress your business, that is a new business. They don’t have the experience or the, they can be mentored or partnered or coached with somebody who would’ve had the experience, who can guide them to make sure that they are going to help the people function of your business.

[00:12:49] Garrett Jestice: Yeah, that makes total sense. Awesome. Well, I, the next thing I wanna transition to a little bit is you mentioned previously that, you know, some of this comes from your previous experience in, you know, an HR department of one. And I wanna understand that experience just a little bit more. And what lessons you kind of learned along the way that have kind of shaped how you feel about, you know, HR and how to be a better people leader.

Tell us a little more about that. 

 So yes, I will. I will definitely share my experience as an HR department of one. I will start off by saying if you can just, just for a moment, have that visual of a hamster running on a wheel. I most days that’s what was happening to me.

That’s who I was but in all seriousness though, where that is concern is you have to have the mindset to say, I am going to, I am going, I am responsible for the people function of this organization. Nobody else. when there would be times when I’d be in meetings and there would be HR decisions and they would be like, let’s have a vote.

[00:13:55] Remone Robinson: I would be like respectfully, you don’t get a vote. I’m the only HR professional in here. Unless you are gonna consult with another HR professional outside, then we can make a decision. I don’t come into finance and say, okay, I wanna vote on finance or I don’t go into marketing and say, I wanna vote on marketing.

So you have to be assertive. You have to know when to say, you have to know to push back. You have to know that you are doing this for, to, for the development of the organization. I think that as it’s as HR professionals, some of us, we are afraid of conflict. I always tell people conflict is a good thing.

You will not work in an environment and not have conflict. It is how you present your points across. I always brought research. I always, I bring my point of view. I always try to take it from the different leaders that I’m supporting their point of view. I also had a lot of network. I had a lot of colleagues that supported me.

 I’m a part of the SHRM chapter in my local city. So I reach out for resources and they were able to help me in some of the things that I needed. I have, I personally have my own mentor in HR. so that was all that person’s also a great resource for me as well.

[00:15:02] Remone Robinson: So even though I was in HR department of one, I had a bunch of resources and I, when I tell you books are your best friend, magazines are your best friends, any article that you can find online, 

[00:15:13] Garrett Jestice: Like HR, mavericks, right? That’s part of the reason why we started it. Yeah. 

[00:15:16] Remone Robinson: Yes. Like HR Mavericks. I will be contributing, very soon as well.

So, those,those resources were very helpful. and what I would recommend, to those, anyone that is a department of one, is to make sure that you create the mindset of a CHRO I am responsible for the people function of this organization. Don’t be afraid to you know, respectfully disagree. Don’t let, because you wouldn’t go to, someone who’s not an expert to help you. you wouldn’t go to a butcher to be your doctor or you wouldn’t go, you know, , you wouldn’t go to the supermarket if you need medical care. So think of it like that. you know, be like, I’m gonna own this HR process, because I’m the only one that they’ve trusted with it, and I’m gonna make sure that I’m doing, doing it some justice.

[00:16:00] Garrett Jestice: Yeah. I really like that last point that you said, because I think a lot of times, you know, we talked multiple times about, you know, elevating the role of HR to be less administrative, more strategic. And I think a lot of times that starts with whoever is owning the people function initially. And a lot of small businesses, it might be that administrative assistant or the office manager who takes that on initially.

And if you are that person who often we call ’em the accidental HR person, right. They just kind of fell into it. A lot of times there are people that’s where they start. That’s where they get their start in HR. they kinda. Get asked to do this or kind of forced into it. And then they realize they love it.

And if you’re one of those people, you know, and you want to continue to elevate that HR function across your company, then gain the knowledge, gain the resources through all of those things that you just said from, you know, certifications through online, learning, through connecting with other people.

And so that you can play a more strategic role in that function at your company going forward. You know, I think a lot of times that transition area, is really hard for companies where you might not be big enough, you know, to hire that full-time person, but there’s always someone who’s responsible for the people in the HR function.

It seems and it starts with them elevating that function to be more strategic and less administrative that helps the whole organization catch the vision of it. 

Remone, this has been such a great chat today. I’m, I bet we could talk about this for hours here, but we really appreciate you joining and sharing some of your insights on this topic today.

You know, as we get ready to wrap up here, one of the last questions I like to ask most of our guests on the show, is really just, what’s one thing, one tip that you think our listeners should do this week to improve their HR or people function? 

I would say if you don’t have a formal mentor in HR, I would say this is the time to get one.

[00:17:57] Remone Robinson: A lot of HR professionals are are feeling overwhelmed and burnout is real and that happens to HR professionals as well. I think we get caught up in the taking care of burnout of all the other employees that we forget ourselves and so that I would say, you know, seek somebody that is, that could, can be a mentor for you.

That person should, you know, they don’t have to be, you know, at a very senior or executive role, they can just be, one step seniority above you, or they could be on the same level, but they have more years of experience. Sometimes it’s good to get another point of view. And especially if you’re working that HR department of one, you need somebody like that was gonna understand and give you some more guidance as well, because I’m assuming if you’re an HR department of one, there is no HR professional to mentor you and coach you in your organization. So that is, would be my recommendation for someone. I love that tip and you know, I would just add to it. I think a lot of times people get stuck thinking, well, how do I do that? Like, how do I find a formal mentor? Right? there’s plenty of programs and things out there, but I think, you know, if I could just offer my 2 cents, the simplest way is find someone who has similar experience, someone you admire, whether locally someone you know, someone on LinkedIn and just reach out and say, Hey, would you mind if I pick your brain on some topics related to, you know, HR or whatever it is that you’re facing. And then if it’s a good fit, then say, Hey, would you mind if I do this again? And really, you know, it, it can be that simple sometimes in finding a good mentor who can be that good sounding board for you, is that right? 

Yes, absolutely. I agree. 

[00:19:33] Garrett Jestice: Awesome. Remone, thank you again so much for joining the podcast today. As we wrap up here, if there are listeners that want to get in contact with you and learn more about your background, working with you, or also have follow up questions on what we talked about today, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

[00:19:50] Remone Robinson: Sure so they can find me at LinkedIn. It’s my first, Remone, Robinson, SHRMCP and PHR. I think my certifications are attached to my name on LinkedIn. so sometimes when you type in somebody’s name and you don’t type their certifications, it’s, it’s a challenge to find them. You can also find me on Instagram.

My first name, underscore last name, on Instagram. And also, you can send me an email. It’s [email protected] 

[00:20:17] Garrett Jestice: Awesome. Remone. We’ll be sure to drop the links to all of those places you can connect with Remone in the show notes so you can find them there if you’re listening to this.

So Remone, thank you again for joining the HR Mavericks podcast today, and we hope you have a great rest of the day. 

[00:20:32] Remone Robinson: Thank you so much for having me.

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