A corporate has an HR budget to cover everything from team building events to a performance management system. In your entrepreneurial environment, HR expenditure is usually on a shoestring budget which often leaves it last in line behind other operating expenses. The corporate HR department is dedicated to keeping abreast of the latest trends, developments and challenges on the people front. You have to juggle time between internal people issues, external developments and keeping the business afloat. When a corporate walks into a crisis – no problem – ‘HR will sort it out’, from a legal dispute with an employee to fraud, and the rest of the business continues largely unaffected by the crisis. A crisis for you, because of just one employee, can bring your business to a grinding halt.
However, you have three big advantages over a corporate. You are directly in contact with staff, unlike the corporate HR department that acts as a buffer between management and staff. This allows you to impact each employee in a meaningful way. You also have the benefit of rapid intervention – you can implement sweeping changes in days that would take months in a corporate setting. The third advantage is that you can create a remarkable experience of work for employees by capitalising on the entrepreneurial culture – many corporates are still battling to copy this.
In coming months I will attempt to unravel the people issues that determine the success of your business (and the lives of your employees), keeping in mind the differences between corporate and small business HR.
A quick background of myself, as I haven’t yet introduced myself (I’m using extracts from my book, Worksucks – Make Work, Work): in the past decade I have accumulated a wealth of expertise around the new work economy. I have benefited immensely from zigzagging across marketing, auditing, finance, taxation and HR. I have been fortunate to work in small and large organisations, engage enlightened and confused management, report to kind and nasty bosses, and deal with competent and dof co-workers. Working with a few of them was a reward in itself. Others made their greatest contributions during periods of difficulty.
(Entrepreneur.co.za, June 2006)