Pitfalls in Becoming A Strategic HR Advisor

We’re taking a look at common challenges that executives face when they become strategic HR advisors. 

You might have hit that new milestone—your organization has bought into an employee engagement program, you’ve seen results, and now you have an opportunity to chime in as a strategic HR advisor. 

We’ll be the first to say, this is an exciting place to be in. Companies across the globe are realizing the tremendous impact engagement programs can have, which adds some extra eagerness to get started and implement as many new solutions as possible.

Before you dive into being a strategic HR advisor, we’d like to share some tips to avoid common pitfalls that executives and other organizational leaders face.  

HR groups not following their own advice

Are you looking to roll-out a new wellbeing survey? Did you hear about a personality test or emotional intelligence books that are effective? Anytime you roll-out new HR initiatives or campaigns for the business, make sure you’re also willing to apply them to the HR org. Nothing seems more hypocritical than HR teams forcing initiatives that they aren’t also using. 

An easy way to avoid this pitfall for strategic HR advisors is to always test your new programs within your HR funnel first. Then, you’ll be able to spot shortcomings and get feedback from a group that’s trained to spot employee experience gaps. Once the programs match the wants of the company and address employee needs, you’re set for a larger roll-out. 

Forgetting to be employee-first 

If the primary focus of the business is its customers, the primary focus of HR should be its customers too—employees. HR teams can’t forget their employees are their clients. The goal of HR isn’t just to create mitigations and legal protections for a company, it’s to engage employees and create workspaces where they feel like they belong. 

There’s a strong case for employee engagement programs, including possibly improving revenue and employee performance. Being employee first and treating them like customers isn’t just right for the employees, it’s right for the business. 

Buying and using tools that don’t work

When you become a strategic HR advisor to the business, you’ll likely start looking for solutions in the marketplace. You’ll quickly find that there’s a fast growing industry that’s built around HR tools and technology. Many of these companies tout themselves as the next big solution to your problems, but they don’t all follow through with their pitches. 

Always remember, there’s no one-size fits all solution for any HR problem. Each company has different needs and circumstances. Maintain a healthy skepticism when you’re hunting for tools, and double check with sellers that their tools can do the exact things that you need. It’s not uncommon for vendors to market tools as one thing, only for buyers to find out later that the features they need don’t exist or require an upgrade. Buyers then go on to buy more tools in a vicious and unhelpful cycle.

Missing the evidence to act on 

Thanks to the resurgence in employee engagement programs (and the uptick in survey and feedback gathering during the pandemic), companies are gathering more data on their workers than ever before. They’ve realized people data is a must-have, but companies aren’t always finding cohesive ways to connect the dots of their findings.

Connecting dots might mean that you need to hire new, data-minded HR people. At the least, it means you have to stay patient until you’re able to realize the story that your data is telling you. Some stories are obvious (like direct and specific employee concerns), but others will require your prodding and searching to understand trends (like why turnover happens or insights about employee tenure). Whatever the story, make the most of your data, then act on it when you find answers. 

Most of all, stay patient 

When you become a strategic HR advisor, it’s easy to set expectations high and get frustrated by all the various challenges. You want problems solved, and you want them solved yesterday. Know that this type of enthusiasm and assertiveness will get you to the finish line, but lasting changes take time. HR has to allow for trends and data to be understood, and give employees time to adjust to changes.

We’re excited that you’ve embarked on this employee engagement journey, and we know your employees and business will be too. Stay connected with our blog  for more insights, and make sure to join us in conversation with The Modern People Leader podcast