Jul 24, 2007

What does a HR Generalist do?

Lots of time people approach me and ask "I've been approached for a HR Generalist role. What does a HR generalist do?"

The answer varies depending on the industry and organization being discussed.

In general (!) generalists are the "Jack of all trades", they are the 'relationship managers' of HR, constantly talking to business leaders and employees. The focus always has to be to gather feedback on the HR processes in place and also to listen to the needs of the business and employees that is not getting addressed.

A HR generalist seldom does any design and development of HR processes and systems. That is the job of the specialists in HR, like Compensation, Recruitment, Training & Learning and Systems.

Because the HR generalist is first point of communication with the employees and business unit leaders they are the people who get to know the "bugs" in the various processes. In fact, the difference in the specialists and generalists is usually the focus. The specialists focus on the universality of people needs across business units and locations. The generalists tend to focus on the specifics of the business they look after and the exceptions.

Yes the head of HR role is a generalist role too. So if you aspire to be a VP of HR then be sure to spend a large part of your career as a generalist :-)

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