Is your HR advisor qualified to coach executives and managers?

When it comes to leadership, are you ready to take a hard look at how your style is impacting your business? Or do you need an HR partner to give you some honest advice?

Like changing your eating habits because you’ve put on the ‘quarantine 15,’ making changes to how you lead can seem like a daunting task. It starts with considering the facts. Is there a revolving door at your company? Has the performance of your top employees declined? Are you handling HR the same old way, despite the vast changes in the employment landscape?

Another important question: how are you choosing managers and equipping them for success. The Gallup organization, which has interviewed 25 million employees over the years summarized it this way: “The single biggest decision you make in your job — bigger than all the rest — is who you name manager. When you name the wrong person, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits — nothing.”

Of course, naming someone a supervisor or manager doesn’t mean the individual knows how to handle employee issues. Even those who are highly experienced in operational areas and have high emotional intelligence can be unprepared for delicate conversations such as vaccination accommodations, family leave and remote work requests.

Which brings me to my original question. Who is coaching you and your team? Many of the big box HR/payroll companies position themselves as HR advisors. Independent HR coaches do as well. The real question is whether you can depend on them to be true business partners ready to advise on complex, big picture people issues as well as day-to-day matters.

Here are three questions to help you find out.

1. How do they support you and your managers especially with difficult situations? Some HR advisors work with owners on macro issues. Most support individual employees when they have questions. At NEMR Total HR, we have three clients—the owner, the managers and the individual employees. We also have the breadth and depth to assist them all.

Can your HR /payroll provider guide owners/chief executives on HR matters such as workforce planning, vaccination and return-to-work policies, work models, diversity and inclusion, pay equity and immigration? Do they provide coaching on leadership and people decisions to both the C-suite and individual supervisors? Do they offer one-on-one guidance on employee relations issues such as handling workers who are disgruntled, underperforming or want to work from home?

A key differentiator at NEMR Total HR is that we advise, coach and implement. If someone needs to be let go for example, we provide coaching to the manager or we handle the conversation directly, if you prefer. Our emphasis is on interacting with empathy and dignity.

2. Who is on your team and what is their experience coaching executives and managers? First and foremost, as the owner or chief executive, it’s important to have access to senior management or better yet, the owners of your HR company. It can be lonely at the top, right? Oftentimes it’s helpful to deal peer to peer and gain insight from someone who makes similar high-level decisions, and who has a peer group of fellow CEOs to consult with.


Second, are the people assigned to your account seasoned HR practitioners? If so, they will have the pulse of the industry, a breadth of experience with different companies, knowledge of best practices and thoughtful advice. Are they certified? It’s one thing for an individual to have a business degree. It’s quite another to be credentialed by the Society of Human Resources (SHRM). That’s a strong indicator of the individual’s devotion to their craft and their clients.

1. What do they consider the most important attributes of an HR coach? You can tell a lot about what an advisor values and how they treat clients with the answer to this question.

Experience and expertise are a given. So too is an approach that matches with your business needs. Beyond these imperatives, I believe that emotional intelligence and accessibility are essential attributes.

HR is a people business.  The ability to understand others, to empathize and to build meaningful relationships is key to successful interactions.  You should expect nothing less than high emotional intelligence from your HR advisor.

Accessibility is also a must. It’s frustrating when you have a pressing people issue and you can’t talk to a human being. The responsiveness of your HR advisor is a key sign of how much they care about your business.

I also believe in personal chemistry. You want to do business with people you like, right? Having a strong personal connection is key to building trust and to working together seamlessly and productively.

Today’s complex HR world requires experts who are on the forefront of workforce trends, who are there to help you recognize and mitigate issues and who can help you grow your business. Chat with us or email us here.