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The making of an HR consultant

Today we sat in a meeting room from dawn to dusk and filled flip charts with too many thoughts for anyone to remember. At the end we called it a strategy and I was slightly discomforted with the amount of admin work that I see swamping my inbox. The whole conversation kept bringing up the tension in HR between wanting to be make an impact (aka adding value/being strategic) and having to do maintenance and admin. For the last year I have seen the only way forward to step up my own consulting skills and use the few chances that I get. So where do you learn the HR consulting skills you need? Here is what I came up with:

I have mentioned in a previous post that experience and standing is very important in impacting from an HR point. That takes time and, well experience. I was lucky to be linked to some experienced HR folks and tried to learn what I can from them.

Beyond that I have gotten together with some other HR peers that share my view and would like to look beyond. So we put together a CoachingOurselves set for HR. We followed Dave Ulrich’s framework on the role of HR and identified 15 topics that we would like to discuss. It works quiet nice and engages us in some good discussions.

Finally, I asked some business professors that I came across in our strategy trainings what they recommend. Besides coaching skills, they came up with the following reading list:

Peter Blockflawless consulting
This is a great book for the process of consulting and how to cover the various aspects of working as a contractor to solve problems. It took me quite a while to go through it and helped with good advice on various stages.

David Maisterthe trusted advisor
This book addresses the various stages from a relationship angle and shows activities for each of them. It is a good resource for thinking through the various aspects of working with managers.

Barbara MintoThe pyramid principle
Most consultants recommended this book. It talks about how to structure thoughts, problems and presentations and has become invaluable to me. Also a slow read, but very helpful since people appreciate clear thoughts.

Peter Senge – the fifth discipline
I have avoided this one for long now. Too popular so I wondered how good it can be. When it was recommended in this context, people highlighted the systems thinking aspect. I am a big believer in this (“poets are the original system thinkers”) since most problems seem to me systemic in my daily experiences.

This is just a quick starter on the way. The tug between admin and consulting remains, but it might be time to build the skills since chance favors the prepared.


Filed under: HR Business Partner