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The Guide For New HR Managers, Part 5: Learning by Doing

“If only I had known…” is something we all begin our thoughts with every now and then. As someone who is a new – and possibly even the very first – HR manager in an organisation, you may also have those moments.


Learning by doing, or learning from mistakes, is a natural part of growing professionally. Camilla Hydén Karlsson, VP People & Culture at CatalystOne, shares some of the learnings she has had while building up an HR function. One of her favourite quotes which she embraces in her work when building an HR organisation is from Nelson Mandela: “I never loose, I either win or learn”.

  1. Accept that things take time. You might have a well-designed, detailed plan for implementing processes, but the saying ‘no man is an island’ is good to keep in mind. For example developing a culture doesn’t happen overnight. Have patience!

  2. Learn to delegate and share responsibilities. Especially in the beginning there are many small things you need to get in place in a short time, so it’s essential you can delegate or get support when needed. Don’t wait for someone to ask if you need help. Be proactive!

  3. Remember to reflect and improve step by step. You can’t always get everything 100% right the first time, so it’s important that you are humble, that you listen and reflect and change processes when you see that there is a need for it. Spend some time on reflection; what do we have, how does it work, what needs to change, and, most important of all, implement those changes.

  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Rolling out processes or changes without good communication towards stakeholders or buy-in from the management can be a painful experience. Secure buy-in and engage the organisation in the process before you roll out things. Learn to explain what, why, where, when and who. When you do this successfully, a change is regarded as a development.

  5. Adopt a mindset that your role is all about people and culture, not HR. “An increasing number of top executives understand the importance of culture as a driver for business, and you play a key role in shaping the organisation’s culture”, Camilla says. “It’s about time we leave old fashioned HR behind and that you and your HR department step up to become truly business oriented. People and culture should be the top priority on the CEO’s agenda”, she continues.

This is the last part in our blog series that guides new HR managers in various aspects in their role. In case you missed the previous parts, you’ll find them here:

The must haves explains how to prioritise the administrative tasks that wait anyone establishing an HR function in an organisation.

The annual HR cycle sheds light on how you should begin building an annual plan, and how to prioritise which processes to have in place first.

The culture gives you many tips for mapping and developing the culture in your organisation.

The networking and continuous learning gives you tips for professional development.

Micaela Tärnhamn

Micaela Tärnhamn, 22 December 2017

Micaela Tärnhamn har en stor nyfikenhet och intresse av frågor relaterade till modernt ledarskap och är genom sin roll som marknadschef i CatalystOne Sverige väl insatt i frågor kring Talent & Performance management, strategisk HR och HR system.

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