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How To Be A Lean & Highly Effective HR Machine... And Have Fun

, | Dec 6, 2022 2:30:00 AM | By

Grow fast, don’t break things, and do it in a super cost-effective way. While that may not be how the saying goes, it is, in fact, the topic we discussed in the latest episode of High Growth Matters. 

We spoke with high-growth veteran Christine Maxwell, currently VP of People at Rippling, an all-in-one HR, IT, and Finance platform. Christine has held an unusual variety of C-level roles across communications, compensation, growth operations, and people functions at Anaplan, Capital Alliance, Electronic Arts, and more. And as a result, her perspective is uniquely rich.

This blog has been adapted from that conversation and covers:

  • The two camps of HR
  • Building a culture of self-service in HR
  • The value of automation in HR
  • How HR can make managers awesome

Don’t miss the full episode: How To Be A Lean & Highly Effective HR Machine... And Have Fun


HR as strategic or tactical — and which camp is superior

There are two very distinct lenses through which people see HR. According to Christine, one is much more conducive to growth and success than the other.

“In one camp, and it's respectable, people see HR as primarily being an interface between employees and management,” Christine says. 

This approach frames HR as a function that facilitates programming, coordinates messaging, and handles and funnels escalations. While not necessarily incorrect, this first approach is a highly tactical view of HR and fails to recognize HR professionals' impact on an organization.

The second HR camp rewards the strategic function deserved, according to Christine. 

“The second camp frames HR as a business force multiplier that leverages human-capital management expertise to uplevel leadership and management best practices,” she says. “It’s less about being accessible directly to employees and more about being behind the scenes — coach, guide and consultant to stakeholders, leadership and managers.” 

The latter approach gets to the core of how people value and think about their work. It allows a team to accelerate the impact that the human capital management skill set enables for an organization to become high-performing.

HR can greatly accelerate and enhance business performance, but leadership must enable the team with the right tools and support.


The three pillars of highly effective HR

Driven by a conviction that leveraging the employee record as the basis for internal business transactions, workflow, analytics and integrations insights, Christine structured the HR team at Rippling according to three pillars. Then, she shared with us, in detail, what that journey entailed, and actionable insights that any professional can utilize in their organizations.

Building a culture of self-service

“I anchor on self-service,” Christine says. “That means documenting well and enabling employees and managers to source the right information.”

Christine has ensured that employees are enabled with the right tools to find the answers to questions and problem-solve independently. When information isn’t readily available, employees have an established hierarchy to work through to find what they need.

But, according to Christine, self-service isn’t something that can be tacked on to an organization — it has to be baked into the culture of a business.

“Culture develops very organically, but, especially in high growth, it deserves a little curation,” she says. “In high growth, it's important to understand what is essential for your DNA.”

At Rippling, there is a significant focus on curated exercises that initiate and cultivate the characteristics necessary for the business. During these exercises and events, employees are empowered to do their best, then provide feedback to the organization.

“There’s a lot of listening and formalizing rituals based on what you hear,” Christine says. “There’s always room for more work.”

The value of automation

Automation enables an organization to streamline systems that otherwise require high levels of time and talent investment. It also minimizes the potential for human error. For these reasons, Christine automates everything that she can. 

“Automated onboarding is a core part of our sales pitch,” she says. “ Onboarding paperwork and hiring practices, device issuance, LMS course enrollment triggered by employee events, we automate it all.”

Want to learn more about the innovative workflow automation services that Rippling offers? Click here.

Making managers awesome

“So much research has shown a strong manager-employee relationship is one of the biggest drivers for employee engagement,” Christine says. “Making managers awesome pays big dividends across the org — and certainly for the HR function.”

At Rippling, there are several systems and tools used to help make managers awesome. Some include: 

  • Active performance management
  • Strong communication practices between employees and managers
  • Curriculum Manager Development that teaches managers a variety of skills using a multimodal approach
  • Active feedback enablement

“Make sure managers are having active feedback conversations with folks throughout their tenure,” Christine says. “It really facilitates making sure that people are managed up or out with respect and with speed.”

If you enjoyed this post, you’d appreciate our conversation, where we take a deep dive into the topics covered here today and beyond. Take a moment to listen to the full High Growth Matters episode. If you like what you hear, please consider leaving us a rating and bookmarking the podcast to be notified each time we publish a new episode.

Did you enjoy the content? Listen to the full High Growth Matters episode.

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