Curious about becoming an internal HR consultant? AHRI trainer Prudence Boulton gives a guide to how the role of HR has shifted to fit changing business needs, and how you can make the transition.
What does an internal HR consultant bring to the table?
Historically, human resources practitioners were viewed as the soft-skills experts. However, there’s been a noticeable shift and the role is going from a support function to one of business partnering. The rising status of the HR consultant reflects this. With this comes demand for a more strategic approach with additional competencies. Practitioners should be playing a key role in business decision-making because human capital is an organisation’s biggest asset. Human resources professionals have at their disposal HR metrics, so they can present the necessary quantitative and qualitative data to demonstrate to the business the return on investment.
More focus is put on HR as a strategic business partner. How does an internal HR consultant fit into this?
Human resources is usually the change agent in organisations, so we need to lead it! There have been changes in policy and legislation that require greater duty of care and accountability from businesses. This means that human resources needs to go beyond compliance. By stepping away from the organisation and assuming the mantle of HR consultant, practitioners can coach leaders and take an objective look at what needs to be done and how to achieve it.
What is one thing people struggle with the most?
Some participants can be overwhelmed with the number of stakeholders with whom they need to engage during any company change. I try to overcome this by presenting case studies and then tackling the tasks step-by-step. This allows participants to see consulting techniques and best practice in action. Another challenge is getting others within an organisation to change their view of human resources as simply a support role. I try to help HR professionals establish a symbiotic relationship with others and become the go-to experts.
What can participants expect from the Internal HR Consulting Skills training course?
I look at the evolving role of HR in recent years and the impact this has had on human resources structure and practice. I focus on the four-stage consulting process, as outlined by author and HR expert Mark Thomas, which is:
- Getting in and contracting.
- Gathering information.
- Client presentation.
The first stage is the one people find most valuable. Practitioners can sometimes get ahead of themselves by gathering information prematurely. This is a chance to get to the root of the problem you need to solve. An HR consultant can look at a business, ask about the company’s vision, see where it needs support and then find where human resources fits into those needs. The final stage – the follow-up – is also incredibly valuable because it’s a chance for human resources to measure its impact through analytics. At this stage, you can trace the results and set some benchmarks for what you hope to accomplish going forward.
What are some exercises that help HR professionals make the transition?
When I run this course in-house, it’s a chance for the whole human resources team to establish as a group how they can better brand or market themselves as business partners, consider stakeholders interests and then communicate those plans. Participants can talk about initiatives that they are trying to implement, and get input from me and other participants on how they can enact them effectively in their workplace.
Get the skills, tools and frameworks you need in the two-day AHRI short course ‘Internal HR Consulting Skills: Effective Business Partnering’. To learn more, click here.