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Posted by on Mar 21, 2012

The Unexpected HR Professional

Many HR departments in the Federal Space find themselves, just as with many private sector companies, in a desire to become true business partners with the clients they serve. They want to have a voice in planning and co-crafting the future of the agency. From workforce planning (ensuring the best talent is available to continue the mission of the agency) to succession planning (ensuring the agency has groomed a pool of talent to fill key roles and positions for the future), HR professionals are often able to provide invaluable expertise to their business partners.

But frequently, we as HR professionals find ourselves in a more reactionary mode. Because of a lack of planning (maybe on our part; maybe on the part of our clients; maybe for unforeseen circumstances), we may find ourselves scrambling just to fill a position within a timeframe, rather than filling a position with the best qualified and most ideal candidate. How can we help to prevent that a reactionary situation by becoming more proactive?

Here are three tips I’ve found helpful that many of our clients don’t expect. And by doing the unexpected, you’re poised to do the extraordinary.

1. As soon as possible, establish positive, healthy relationships with our clients. Chances are, we’ve heard that one before. However, its simplicity, and importance, cannot be overstated. Your client groups need to feel like they can seek your expertise in the good times, as well as the more challenging ones. Reach out to your clients and stake holders to see how it’s going. Help your clients find creative solutions for their issues. Volunteer on projects to provide a voice for new initiatives. Our challenge is to help our clients see us as an advocate to move the organization forward, not as an obstacle to prevent new ideas from being implemented.

2. Do unexpected things to keep the relationship alive. By doing simple things-like going to lunch with your clients, sending a random email to let them know you’re thinking about them, placing a quick phone call to see how things are going-you absolutely show your clients that you’re genuinely interested in them, in their well-being, and with the well-being of the agency.
3. Capitalize on teachable moments when they occur. During the times we spend with our clients, find moments to ask great, thought provoking questions of your clients. “I know that’s how the position description currently reads, but what skills would the ideal candidates possess?” “I know this situation must be frustrating, and we’ll get through it. What do you think we can do differently next time to make sure we have a different outcome?” “I hear the morale in your department is improving. What are some of the most creative ways you’ve come up with to help affect that improvement?” “What can I do differently to help support you more effectively?”When you genuinely, authentically, and honestly practice these three simple tips, the results can do wonders to build and foster positive relationships. Do the unexpected. Expect the extraordinary.

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