Does Your HR Leader Need “Phone a Friend?”

by Julie Van Vonderen, McClone

There is no shortage of metrics, advice and equations for companies to determine the right ratio of HR professionals to employees. However, there is no “one size fits all” number for every company. This is especially true when it comes to the construction field with employees dispersed across various projects and seasonal fluctuations in headcount.

But regardless of the number of HR team members in your organization, there is a good chance that, at some point, HR will need a “phone a friend.”

Just like in the game show, the phone-a-friend can be an invaluable resource when your head of HR needs a sounding board, some advice or an answer.

Professional societies and associations such as ABC of Wisconsin, with a conference and other resources dedicated to HR professionals, and the Society for Human Resources Management can be great resources for support, education and advice as can informal professional networks of other HR providers. However, sometimes it helps to have access to somebody who already knows a bit about your business yet can still bring an outsider’s perspective.

This is where having a relationship with an HR consultant can be beneficial.

HR consultants can be tasked with everything from administrative HR support to more involved management of a client’s HR function. In the scope of the relationship, the “phone a friend” function is often a lifeline for clients.

"Just like in the game show, the phone-a-friend can be an invaluable resource when your head of HR needs a sounding board, some advice or an answer."

This is especially true at small to mid-sized construction companies where the HR leader may be a department of one.  They manage all of the HR functions and there are no other colleagues with a background in HR to act as a sounding board, mentor or devil’s advocate. And the types of issues that HR people often face are not something they can go discuss with their friend in marketing or accounting.

Even in larger HR departments, getting peer-to-peer advice from another seasoned HR pro outside of your organization can help with perspective, decision-making, policy-creation and so much more. On any given day, an HR lead can be faced with a wide range of issues some run-of-the-mill and others that will never be found in any HR training course. It’s just the nature of the profession.

HR consultants get calls on a regular basis for things that don’t come up very often or something clients have never run across, and they just need to talk through an issue with another experienced HR professional. A lot of times, just a nod of the head is all they need to confirm they are on the right track with a resolution or course of action. Those calls and the ensuing discussions are a huge value to HR leaders who just need to talk through a challenge.

After all, who couldn’t use a “phone-a-friend” every so often?

Julie Van Vonderen is the Director of HR Consulting at McClone specializing in supporting companies with strategic planning, organizational development and change management.

Photo of Julie Van Vonderen.
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