Saturday, May 4, 2013

I want to be a sponge

Seven months ago, I accepted a position at a company that, although it had been around for seven years or so, was really more of a start-up in terms of infrastructure. At the time, I was two years out of grad school and working on building my experience and moving forward in my career. The previous companies I worked for were large enough that I had the opportunity to observe experts in their respective fields but little personal opportunity to tackle out-of-the-box challenges and have any true influence on decision-making.

One of the main enticements for this new role was the opportunity to help build something - to be a part of a small team that would ultimately build out a department and support the whole organization from a human resources perspective.

Over the past seven months, I have done everything from making copies to implementing an HRIS system; proofreading offer letters to writing policies; filing paperwork to traveling to give open enrollment benefits presentations; counting employee time punches to developing marketing materials and working on executive compensation agreements. I have learned that you are never too experienced to "get in the weeds." It is so important to keep a pulse on the daily tasks that keep a department and a company running because only then can you make informed decisions about what needs to happen at a higher level.

I am fortunate to be on a team of well-versed experts in the field of human resources. I am by far the most junior on the team, so my goal is to be a sponge. My colleagues are former managers, directors, and VP's of other companies who have taken a step back from the large company opportunities, set aside egos and pensions, and dug their heels in to come together and create something great from the ground up. Recently, I traveled to Colorado with my EVP and a Director on my team, and I had the privilege of watching our EVP roll up his sleeves and sit down with a pile of new hire paperwork for hours to put it all in order. Nothing is too menial for him to work on, and this view of teamwork is so refreshing to me.

Each day has its new challenges. It seems there is always a fire to put out somewhere. The workload can be overwhelming, but I realize what an incredible opportunity this is to learn and grow.

So just remember: Each task you perform, no matter how small, is integral to your work, and your attitude makes all the difference!

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