I was reading a post on a forum from someone asking if they should take a job as an “HR Operations Coordinator”. I almost threw up in my mouth. Not because HR is terrible, quite the contrary. I have the utmost respect and admiration for people who make other people’s success their life’s work.
No, my problem is with the title, and more specifically, the role of “coordinator”. Ugh. This person’s role was explained:
I would mostly be doing payroll, benefits, serve as first contact for all questions, help with on boarding, exit interviews, employee recognition program etc.
They actually seemed excited by this opportunity. They saw it as a career enhancer. They have a masters degree in education, and thought this role would enhance their career.
I have clear advice for anyone who will listen: you should never take a job with “coordinator” in the title.
All that means is “poor soul stuck in the middle”. Coordinators are typically roles that exist to be the glue between two groups that can’t cooperate. That is a structural/organizational issue that sticking some poor person in the middle of won’t really fix.
Whether it’s preceded with “project”, “HR”, “management”, “sales”, “business”, “operations”, or any such qualifier, what it really means is “person to whom the s**t flowing downhill flows toward”. The best, and most real job descriptor is: “All of the responsibility and none of the control”.
In the long run, coordinators are hated by both of the groups they’re stuck between, in this case it’s employees and the people who can actually help fix their problems. They act as the front line for issues, answer the same question over and over again, and eventually shuffle the people with issues off to someone who can really help them.
The best success you can possibly hope for as a “coordinator” is to not screw it up any worse. The worst, and most likely, is that you get all the jobs no one else wants to do.
Yes, I know there are some roles, especially it seems in HR, where people are traditionally called “coordinators”, but that doesn’t make it right. What needs to happen is for the tools, processes, or organization structure to be fixed to obviate the role. People need to have direct access to the HR information they need. Project teams need to have their goals aligned to make not cooperating impossible. Sales processes need to be fixed to make coordinators unnecessary.
These jobs are also are definitely not good career moves. Placeholders at best. I’ve never read a resume and said “oh, I see you were a coordinator…”, as if that was a real feather in their cap.
So, please, if you are offered a “coordinator” role, find something else. And if you supervise coordinators, ask yourself why. Better yet, fix it.