From my years working in HR, I know that employees don’t often ask HR for help. At least, that is what it was like for the companies I worked with. As HR consultants, it is our job to give guidance and support to enable our colleagues make better decisions. Our roles are operational, not strategic, and, if we do our jobs right, we are practically invisible to other departments and employees. When a problem arises on the operational front, HR is consulted, but not always, or only when the situation has “gotten out of hand”. I’ve often stood and asked myself “why didn’t you come to us for advice or help before?” For HR consultants to become trusted advisors to every employee in the company, here are five of my ideas.
1. Advertise what you can do
‘You don’t know what you don’t know’. In other words, what is someone going to ask, if they don’t know what you can help with? Tell others what you can do for them. You can advertise your services via a newsletter, via posters on the wall, via Q&A pages on the intranet, etc. You can even write simple case studies, describing what you have done for someone in the past.
2. Listen for context and unspoken words
Listening for information that employees aren’t saying is very important. When we can listen for the context around what is happening, not only the content, we can get more information and offer better solutions.
3. Ask before you tell
One way to be clear about the needs of employees is to clarify what we have heard from them. Questions like “Let me check to see if I understand…”and “I heard you say these things are important, is that right?” lets the other person know you are listening and thinking about their needs before you give advice. It also helps you to make sure you understand what they are saying.
4. Begin with the end in mind
Questions like “What outcome would you like to see?” and “What is the most important behaviour to change?” help employees to see the end of the process – not just the first step to solve a problem. By focusing on the overall outcome, you can offer methods your internal clients may not have thought about.
5. Don’t say “no” if you don’t have to
“What I can do is…” can be the most powerful tool in your phrase book. Why say, “No, I can’t do that” if you don’t have to? I know this can be a cultural point, but focusing on what we can do for our internal clients instead of what we cannot shows them that we are willing to problem solve together.
These tips are based on my personal experience. If you work in HR, or if you have recently dealt with a situation involving HR, and if you have any additional tips for our readers, please use the comments box below.