Do you fancy a career in HR Consulting? My name is Liz Owers, I am Head of Client Services for MAD-HR, and I have been on both sides of the fence. I have worked in-house as an HR Advisor through to HR Director, as well as working as an HR Consultant, working with a great variety of businesses across a wide range of sectors. Read on to find out if a new challenge as an HR Consultant could be just what you have been looking for.
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If you’re motivated, enjoy problem-solving, love working with people and are interested in helping organisations to operate better, then HR consultancy could be for you.
MAD-HR’s consultants help SME organisations to solve issues, create value, maximise growth and improve business performance. They use their HR and business skills to provide objective advice and expertise, building brilliant relationships and having lots of fun along the way.
Working for the past 20 years as an HR professional, both in-house and consulting, enables me to shed some light on some advantages and challenges of working in consultancy with SMEs versus being in-house.
HR consulting years are rather like dog years. Supporting several clients at the same time means being exposed to much more variety in a shorter period of time. Is it one year equalling seven? Perhaps not. However, each consulting year has given me much more than most in-house years.
Many HR professionals get frustrated in-house with making change happen or challenging the status quo. Additionally, it can be difficult to do so when the person we are challenging is directly signing our paycheck.
We need to be able to effectively challenge senior leaders and business owners to enhance their insights and decision-making whilst maintaining a strong relationship built upon honesty, credibility, trust and respect. Being invited in as a trusted advisor and having a degree of separation brings a different dynamic and perspective to those interactions.
Working at pace with a varied client base is challenging and exhilarating in equal measure, something that I missed at times when things were running smoothly in-house.
There is a ready-made professional network with aligned values, and there is always a colleague or a resource that can help and support, something that I took for granted and missed at times when I was working in-house with limited budgets.
Sometimes, it can be challenging when there is less visibility into internal conversations, workload or resource availability. However, being a trusted consultant gives you the opportunity and permission to be inquisitive and have a “dig about”.
What can you do to get yourself ready for consulting?
Become more curious
Understand the commercial drivers in your business and the impact of them. You need to be able to talk with business leaders about more than sickness absence and HR policies.
Be customer focused
The best HR professionals have customer focus for both the users of the HR service and end customers of the organisation. This is critical to successful consultancy. We work hard to deliver the expected results. Accountability is a core value at MAD.
Our clients are paying for our time – their budget is our budget – so we invest it with integrity and work quickly without compromising on quality.
Learn to ask great questions. We do not have the same level of visibility as when working in-house, so we ask great questions to get “under the ribs” of situations.