HR Professionals must ask the appropriate questions to understand their unique client needs.

Meeting Clients Where They Are: An Anecdotal Look at Expert HR Professionals

Written by on January 18, 2014

Each organization has its own unique culture, norms and issues. Any outside professional coming in must be flexible and willing to meet clients where they are by asking the right questions, understanding their specific concerns and being ready to work within that framework.

An effective HR professional always seeks to understand the people side of the culture, norms and issues. Here are just two stories that demonstrate the interventions of a skilled expert.

  1. The Business
  2. This is a small business with two sites and approximately 20 employees. The owners do everything from setting the vision and building the brand, to hiring staff and completing the payroll, to seeking out vendors and remaining current in their industry. They do not have the need or budget for a full-time HR staff member or the and so rely on their past career experience leading teams to deal with their HR planning.

    They secured an HR professional with an understanding of their small business culture and service model that was skilled in coaching, mentoring, consulting and facilitation. Their needs were:  to make sure that their employees were offering stellar customer service and to provide some help and education in dealing with difficult clients and occasional staff relationship issues.

    • The first topic area was dealt with by using an anonymous client satisfaction survey. Location specific facilitated sessions were then planned to give survey feedback to the employees and to coach facilitate how best practices could be improved and assured.
    • The second topic of dealing with difficult people was undertaken by working with the two owners first in a coaching session where desired skills were identified and measures of success established, before staff sessions were held to model how to keep your professional cool, provide quality service and demonstrate the behaviour sought from both staff and client alike.

    Key Takeaway: The HR expert played coaching, consulting and facilitation roles.

  3. The Toxic Employee
  4. The owner of a small business where 15 staff worked together closely began to get feedback that one person seemed unhappy. The question being asked was: “What’s wrong with Joe?” Being aware that this was a private matter, the manager decided to engage an HR expert with a specialty in coaching to have a third party look at the scenario. The consultant observed that the staff member seemed tired, and often disgruntled but at other times was capable of functioning productively. The staff member was invited to participate in personal wellness coaching and the information shared revealed that there were personal issues that explained the erratic behaviour. The HR expert continued in a 1:1 coaching role with the employee.

    Key Takeaway: The HR professional played both an assessment role and a coaching role.

In both the private and public sectors, these scenarios occur daily. The HR professional must develop creative solutions to best fit their clients’ needs. The repertoire of skills needed range from coaching to mentoring to assessing and facilitating. Any one of these one their own may not be enough. It is knowing both how and when to intervene in the appropriate role that marks an expert human resources professional.