You Can Build An HR Department Without HR People

What do you look for when you’re hiring for an HR opening? A person with HR experience and a SPHR or CEBS or a SHRM-SCP? If those are your criteria, you’re missing out on a future rock star.

“If you’re looking for a top performer, look for someone without HR experience,” says Greg Roche.

That’s what some CEOs are doing when choosing a CHRO. Whether that is a wise decision is still to be seen, but how many HR leaders would actively seek to fill a comp consultant role with someone who’s never done the job? Or bring in a database developer as an HR analyst?

You should, Roche insists. At the time he offered this advice to a Fargo, ND DisruptHR audience in 2016, Roche was National Director of Benefits at Envision Healthcare. Now he’s Senior Director, Compensation and Benefits with Davita Medical Group. Today, he has 12 years HR experience, but he was an English major with only a few months as a recruiter before stepping into the role of director of employee engagement and retention.

“I believe that the future HR rock stars aren’t currently working in HR today,” he says. “And if we don’t open the gates to them, we are neglecting a talent pool that can make HR more innovative and credible.”

To make his point, Roche presents the story of three people who became HR rock stars without any previous experience in the field. In his 5 minutes, Roche presents recruiter Kelly, Andrew, a compensation consultant and Levi the database developer who he hired as a senior business analyst.

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Though he advocates hiring people from outside of HR, Roche cautions, “Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that anybody can do HR. What I am saying is there are transferable skills that we can use in HR.”

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