As organizations grow and evolve, so too do the roles and responsibilities of human resources professionals. To navigate the ever-changing landscape of legal and regulatory requirements, along with the demands of a changing workforce, many companies are turning to fractional HR consultants as a cost-effective solution.
Coaching from an experienced HR professional can help a new or under-resourced HR team develop the skills they need to manage challenges and conflicts, build strong teams, and foster a culture of inclusion and productivity among employees. By providing personalized guidance and support, HR coaching enables companies to build a strong foundation for success, both in terms of employee engagement and overall business goals.
How human resources coaching can benefit an inexperienced HR team.
Effective HR coaching all starts with helping the existing team understand the role of HR within the organization. We recently began coaching a less experienced HR employee at a marketing agency. She was excited about her job, but it was pretty obvious when we arrived that she didn’t have a clear understanding of how her human resources position fit into the organization as a whole.
Beyond problem-solving, HR plays a critical role in shaping company culture. A skilled HR professional can act as a driver of culture, fostering positive communication and direction within the organization. It’s important to focus on continued learning and development to ensure that HR professionals are always seeking the best solution. By prioritizing coaching and development, organizations can truly leverage the full potential of their HR teams.
Consistency is the key to successful human resources coaching.
Whether you’re coaching a tennis player or a human resources professional, effective coaching is about the same thing. Coaches of all types agree that teaching proper technique and practicing those techniques through repetition is hands-down the best way to create lasting muscle memory and valuable experience.
In our line of work, as fractional HR consultants, we use a variety of memorable and actionable phrases to coach important HR concepts to our clients. When a client starts to say these phrases on their own, in appropriate situations, we know we’ve done our job. That’s when great communication and valuable engagement starts to become habit and trickles down into the culture of the organization.
3 powerful HR coaching phrases we use every day:
1. “Practice the pause.”
In the situation of the less experienced HR employee we were working with above, the organization had acquired a smaller company which was going to become a new division. As is her job, she formulated a generic welcome email, just like she sends to all new employees… but then she remembered to practice the pause.
Instead of being task-oriented and sending off a standard template email, she stopped, reread, and thought strategically about what information she wanted to convey to these particular employees. While this new team member would have to complete all the same onboarding materials as everyone else, this was a different circumstance. She realized that the email she normally sends are typically for sales and operations people. This new team had a completely different focus. She needed a different kind of introduction that highlighted how the new division would work with established employees and provide some context for how it worked in the past. By practicing the pause, she ensured there was purpose behind the message, and it was being delivered appropriately.
Practicing the pause also helps prevent negative knee-jerk reactions. When faced with a situation involving an employee who is being intentionally difficult or rude, it’s only natural to want to meet that attitude with indifference or even disdain. Practicing the pause allows you to step back, assess the situation, and meet the moment with professionalism and patience. In the words of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.” Practicing the pause gives you the space you need to go high and keep your HR leaders in line with your values.
2. “Ask two more questions.”
It’s important to gather as much information as possible before making a decision or taking action. This is especially true in the workplace where properly addressing employee concerns can lead to a more positive and productive environment. Another one of our favorite HR mantras is, “ask two more questions.”
When faced with a question, be sure to ask at least two more questions before answering. These follow-up questions can provide a number of different benefits to any conversation. First and foremost, simply by asking these questions, you show employees that you are present, engaged, and care for their needs. Second, starting a dialogue will naturally help you recognize their perspective, and better understand the nuances of the situation. Lastly, by acquiring additional information, you are in a vastly better position to identify possible solutions, make an informed decision, and take appropriate action.
For example, let’s say an employee requests every Wednesday night off. Instead of responding with Yes or No, maybe ask them if they feel comfortable sharing why they need those specific days off of work. Is this schedule change temporary or permanent? You may come to find out that their child is in a seasonal sports league with games on Wednesday nights. With a deeper understanding of the request and the employee’s perspective, it becomes much easier to find solutions that keep everyone satisfied.
3. “Always get to ‘YES.'”
We’ve all worked with those bosses who always say “NO”. Even though you know what they’re going to say, you go to them with what you think is a reasonable request, because you have to ask. It’s upsetting, it’s demoralizing, it’s embarrassing, it breeds resentment, and it will eventually lead to major breakdowns in communication! In the human resources coaching world, “NO” is a culture killer.
Creating a culture of “YES,” on the other hand, is integral to the success and productivity of your employees, and it should be the goal of every HR interaction. Practicing the pause and asking more questions are two strong methods that will put you on track to saying “YES”. By becoming a department of “YES,” you’ll be encouraging employees to come to HR with their concerns rather than resenting the system in which they work. Keep in mind that your “YES” may not be a flat-out “YES”. The most effective resolution may include caveats and will always require clear and consistent communication.
For example, in the story mentioned above, maybe it would be an easy “YES” if the employee requesting Wednesday nights off could find a coworker to cover them on those nights. Alternatively, if it would cause problems for that person to take every Wednesday night off, maybe saying “YES” to every other Wednesday would be a friendly compromise.
How we can turn simple phrases into a robust culture…
An experienced HR consultant can be a valuable tool to help your staff understand how to support and develop your organization’s employees. What’s more, proper human resources coaching can help instill a culture of development and learning within your entire staff. This kind of culture, one where engagement and cooperation is the standard, has the ability to shift the entire working environment into a flourishing atmosphere of teamwork and progress. And it’s all because of 3 little phrases…
Okay, while we love our little phrases, and they provide a useful framework for positive HR communications, they are only a part of what makes for successful HR leaders and positive cultural drivers. Implementing strategies to engage employees and promote culture takes patience, practice, and consistency. If you are curious about incorporating HR strategies into your organization, or if you want to learn more about how a fractional CHRO can fit into your human resources strategy, let’s have a conversation.