Should HR Experts be leaders?

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Dec 10, 2021
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I have a question...kind of looking to start a discussion and see if I am nuts or if others have wondered about this as well.

I am one of 2 HR Experts in a store with no HR TLs, just an HR ETL. (I think this is very common in the chain stores, at least in my state.)

I've noticed that the level of responsibility we have as HR team members is quite a bit higher than most, if not all, other team members in the store, and is in fact higher than even some Team Leaders in other departments. And yet we are brought in at the same starting hourly rate as any entry level team member. (Please know that nothing I am saying is meant to disparage anyone else! I am not trying to insult other roles! What I mean to say is that it feels like we have a unique level of responsibility?)

To be honest, I feel that HR Experts, as we currently function, should be Team Leaders. Here are some examples of why:

- Our training takes a full four weeks, and after that there is still so much to learn! A district HR person told me that it takes *at least* six months for an HR Expert to really know what they're doing. Why? Because the job entails SO MUCH.
- We have keys to the key box in TSC and give out every set of keys (tech keys, self check-out keys, optical keys, wav keys, etc.) and maintain records of who takes them and when they are returned; some Team Leaders on the floor do not even have access to this box.
- We control access to the locked equipment room where people get their MyDevices, walkies, box cutters, etc., and we maintain records of all of those things being signed in and out.
- We are responsible for maintaining vital records which, if not kept properly, could expose the store to lawsuits and government fines. E.g. minor work permits, ADA documentation, etc.
- We monitor compliance and are directed to "have conversations with" team members or even leaders who are out of compliance. (How am I expected to "reprimand" somebody who is on the same level as me or even above me???) Documentation that these conversations happened is maintained. This alone feels very much not like "equal team member" but like "leader."
- We are on the weekly leadership emails from our HR Business Partner (Target lingo for, like, our regional vice-president of Human Resources) and are privy to her in-person meetings with store leadership as she gives us the same goals and directives as them. Most other team members in the store have no idea who our HR Business Partner even is, yet we are working with her personally on a weekly basis to tackle overarching issues in our store.
- We play a major role in recruiting and hiring, choosing which candidates to move forward and which to decline. And yet we are paid the same and considered at the same level as the new hire we just placed?
- We run orientations, being the welcoming first face of Target while also ensuring that every new person being hired is legally eligible to work in the United States and is providing all proper I-9 documentation. These conversations are never easy, when someone shows up without proper paperwork or is not able to provide proof of citizenship/eligibility to work in the US.
- We are asked routinely by ETLs to make calls to team members who haven't shown up to work and use our judgment in deciding whether they sound sincerely willing to get back on track or whether we should just term them. I personally have been directed by ETLs on multiple occasions to term someone ... unless my judgment and conversation with that TM told me to give them another chance!
- We have access to TM and TL schedules, availability, attendance details, performance record, and payslips. We have the power to change punches and to approve or deny punch corrections submitted by TMs (or even TLs) in MyTime Self-Service. We change schedules all the time and are asked to find and add other TMs who may be available to come in if we are short-handed.
- We are responsible for being apprised of state and federal law and creating and managing processes to keep ourselves compliant as laws change...case in point, covid vaccination status and testing. We are responsible for getting every person who works in our store (including ODTM) to upload their vaccination status, and we will be responsible for overseeing the ongoing weekly testing for non-vaccinated employees at every level in our store. That alone is a HUGE task and responsibility!
- We receive complaints and concerns and listen to people's private problems all the time, and if we handled any of these conversations incorrectly or were to be indiscreet about any of it, we would be opening up Target to legal vulnerabilities. Not to mention the personal responsibility of being helpful and caring in those moments. We have to be calm, know what to say and what not to say, and how to direct the person to the correct resource. In the past four weeks alone, we have dealt with TM going missing on the property, then threatening self-harm; a minor female complaining of sexual harassment by an adult male in her department; a traumatized new hire coming into work in hysterics after witnessing a shocking family tragedy; an ETL who has been with the company 17 years having a sobbing breakdown on my shoulder at the start of an orientation in front of 11 new hires; and a candidate without proper immigration paperwork attempting to intimidate me into letting him start work anyway because his family needs his paycheck. It is a LOT. It is all emotional because we care about every single one of these people, and it is a tremendous amount of stress to feel responsible for so much for so many.

In short, half the store already thinks we are Team Leaders! They just assume that we must be because of everything we have access to and do for them on a daily basis! People come to us as leaders. We are the question-answerers and the problem-solvers. We are shoulders to cry on, listening ears to vent frustrations to, and mediators amid conflict.

With absolutely no disrespect to team members in other areas of the store, I am asking: am I the only one who thinks that this particular role feels different from other TM roles and maybe should be a Leader position?
 
Joined
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I’m an HR TL at a small format store and while I do think HR Experts handle a ton of things most tms wouldn’t be able to handle and should be paid more for it, there are things you listed on there that isn’t part of the HR Expert’s job description like having compliance/performance conversations with other TMs or terming them. That sounds like your store is just having you do that which is really odd. I’ve never had my HR team take care of that. They will term someone on workday but that’s only after I asked them to do it. It’s part of their jobs to monitor compliance and payroll but any decision or consequences are decided by either me or my SD or the both of us.

Also HR in general is a more elevated role even at the leadership level. The rest of the leaders at my store come to me for guidance or even run ideas by me and I’ve never asked them to do that. It’s just the type of role we play in HR. I’ve worked at a traditional store before my small format and being in HR definitely is way different than any of the other roles I’ve done for that very reason.
 
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lucidtm

beauty/fulfillment
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What they said above. You're doing a lot of things our HR ETL handles herself and some other things that our other ETL's and TL's handle for their own respective teams. Our store is on the larger side (not a super, though). We also have 2 HR experts. They work half days and rotate their weekends off. ASANTS for sure on this one.
 

Planosss enraged

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I’m an HR TL at a small format store and while I do think HR Experts handle a ton of things most tms wouldn’t be able to handle and should be paid more for it, there are things you listed on there that isn’t part of the HR Expert’s job description like having compliance/performance conversations with other TMs or terming them. That sounds like your store is just having you do that which is really odd. I’ve never had my HR team take care of that. They will term someone on workday but that’s only after I asked them to do it. It’s part of their jobs to monitor compliance and payroll but any decision or consequences are decided by either me or my SD or the both of us.

Also HR in general is a more elevated role even at the leadership level. The rest of the leaders at my store come to me for guidance or even run ideas by me and I’ve never asked them to do that. It’s just the type of role we play in HR. I’ve worked at a traditional store before my small format and being in HR definitely is way different than any of the other roles I’ve done for that very reason.
Wow Nancy, you are practically a Store Director.
 
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The company decided last year that only higher volume stores or stores that require the additional assistance deserve the HR TL role. The role itself was supposed to be eliminated completely, but it's sticking around because HR is an essential business partner function in the store, hence why all stores that aren't the express or small format model have an ETL HR now. For those smaller stores, there's an HR TL and MAYBE an additional expert, but it's dependent on business needs. There are technically two HR TL roles: Human Resources Process Team Leader as well as the rudimentary Human Resources Team Leader role. High volume super targets will have both along with a few other experts. Regular store formats will have an ETL HR along with 1-3 experts. HR experts should NOT be leaders because the HR TL role still exists and leadership duties do not coincide with what a team member or expert does, even in HR.

As others have already stated, your duties are overlapping with duties that are in the leadership's job description, but that does not necessarily mean you should be paid more, and is the fault of your own store leadership.

I work in HR as well, but not at Target. I'm on-demand here, and then I have an HR assistant office position in the industry. To be honest, a lot of your job duties are what I'm currently doing at my new company and are the duties of a regular HR assistant at any other company in this country, and I get paid $16.50/hr plus benefits. Your role is to be the assistant to the head of HR and other leadership functions, in your case, the ETL-HR and the rest of upper management. This includes, but is not limited to compliance, back-end terminations, recruiting, selection, and other staffing efforts; onboarding, orientations, scheduling, payroll, learning and development, etc. You also seem to be doing performance management and extraneous employee relations concerns while helping to roll out new training and processes to the store team.

While I 100% agree that HR assistant/expert/specialist duties are certainly elevated and should be respected/compensated appropriately, mainly due to the type of work and information you deal with, a lot of times in other companies, you get paid less or equal to other team members or employees on a similar hierarchy. In terms of leadership, you're not necessarily doing anything leadership-wise, especially in HR, because that requires a strategic approach to the business which is ultimately reserved for the senior or executive leadership team.
 
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Wow, some of the responsibilities you listed should be done by your ETL and fellow ETL’s. With this being said, I have commented before that we should be paid more based of the specialty of our position. We already have VM’s and PML’s being paid at a higher wage and they are not leaders and they are working in specialty positions. There are HRE‘s who are without an ETL and are running the department often for many months without an ETL. In my district the turnover for HRE’s is pretty high and those that I know who have left have left because they are doing similar work for a higher rate of pay.
 
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I agree tha HR duties are unique - I do not agree that those duties are LEADERSHIP tasks (Except for the coaching that I DON’T think you should be doing - especially to TL’s). Your ETL needs to step up and take that responsibility.
There are times when there is no HR-ETL for months and often the expert is the one following up with team members and compliance. I’ve often had to speak up when TL’s or ETL‘s want a minor to work a certain schedule and minor compliance says otherwise.
 

Planosss enraged

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Wow, some of the responsibilities you listed should be done by your ETL and fellow ETL’s. With this being said, I have commented before that we should be paid more based of the specialty of our position. We already have VM’s and PML’s being paid at a higher wage and they are not leaders and they are working in specialty positions. There are HRE‘s who are without an ETL and are running the department often for many months without an ETL. In my district the turnover for HRE’s is pretty high and those that I know who have left have left because they are doing similar work for a higher rate of pay.
What does PML stand for?
 

Inboundbeast

Closing Team Leader
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ASANTS applies to everything honestly.. Every HRTM’s day is going to vary to some degree but I agree with most of the statements above, you are doing more than you should be required too in your role…. With that, it is easy to argue that the cookie cutter HR expert role is not exactly more difficult, but just different… I definitely understand what that’s like as a closing team leader… sometimes as a closing team leader I believe that I am doing more of an ETL type of job since I spend many hours leading on my own and problem solving on my own in multiple departments (also having all the same access as ETLs do)… but it’s easily argued that my job is not necessarily harder but just different from other TL’s… I don’t 100% agree but I understand why it’s set up the way it is.. at the end of the day i’m hourly and i’m not held to the salary expectations that ETL’s are
 
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Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies! I really appreciate your insights. Our ETL in HR was fired months ago and hasn't been replaced yet. I think the combination of her incompetence and then her absence has led to us doing a lot more than the HREs in other stores? I have been starting to feel resentful of Target for having this position with so much responsibility be entry level, but now I see that I should probably only be resentful towards *my particular store* because we are being taken advantage of a bit.
 
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Property Management Lead. In charge of managing the devices and walkies and stuff. An example of a leader in the store who doesn't have a team below them.
Actually ours kind of does. They may not be a target team but the PML oversees the cleaning crew and has to do walks with them daily. If the cleaning crew is doing a bad job it reflects directly on the PML.
 
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Property Management Lead. In charge of managing the devices and walkies and stuff. An example of a leader in the store who doesn't have a team below them.
You know that isn't all the PML does, right? The PML manages the property assets at Target, like the building, the machinery, executing assessments that they are all in working order. They do this by being able to assess and ensuring that preventive and corrective maintenance is completed, sometimes working with vendors. They have to be experienced in plumbing, HVAC, electrical power systems, computer systems, refrigeration, and more. They need to be able to know the difference between the need for repair and replacement. They need to be aware of and follow all local, state and federal regulations. The PML is generally the first point of contact for all remodels. The PML ensures that the store is able to run smoothly, supporting every team with project sets and whatever physical assets that are needed. If you think their job is just managing devices and walkies, you may want to reassess what you think your knowledge of what other team members and leaders in the store do.
 

60SecondsRemaining

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An HR expert is that - an expert.

It isn't a leadership position but that also doesn't mean you shouldn't be paid more. Leadership and managerial responsibility are not the sole indicators of compensation.

I work in IT now. I have senior architects under me on an org chart that make three times what I make, because those skills are specialized and hard to find.

That being said there is a zero percent chance Target is going to give you a raise.
 
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Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies! I really appreciate your insights. Our ETL in HR was fired months ago and hasn't been replaced yet. I think the combination of her incompetence and then her absence has led to us doing a lot more than the HREs in other stores? I have been starting to feel resentful of Target for having this position with so much responsibility be entry level, but now I see that I should probably only be resentful towards *my particular store* because we are being taken advantage of a bit.
I have mentioned it a couple of times where HRE’s are running the department without an ETL for months. I know someone who has been running it for 6 months and all during Q4 they have been doing the hiring and onboarding, while also running the day to day operations. The better you are the more work gets placed on you.
 

Planosss enraged

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i get it. Who do they lead? My PM will tell you has no one to lead, just the title.
Right, just the TL title, more importantly TL pay!
Ka-ching
On a serious note, PMLs lead the whole store when it comes to recycling, safety, and training by influencing DBOs , TLs , ETLs and SD. PMLs can’t coach but certainly have the reach to hold all mentioned above accountable.
PML impact is very real and significant to the bottom line of the store as well.
 
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