Your reputation is everything as an HR leader, and it’s composed of a variety of inputs from your colleagues, clients and partners. These inputs include elements such as the quality of your work, timeliness to meetings and your ability to work well with others. But one major aspect of reputation that’s often overlooked is the level of service you deliver to your colleagues, clients and partners.
One could argue that the modern HR leader is all about service, because the role is more consultative than it has been in the past. HR leaders consult on HR technology, offer advice on benefit plans and provide guidance on financial well-being programs.
Service is a big part of HR leaders’ jobs in 2019, yet it’s not often discussed in forums like this. Here are four ways you can enhance your reputation by delivering top-notch service to your colleagues, clients and partners.
Believe in the Power of Persistence
The power of persistence is something I share quite a bit with my Trustmark colleagues, and for good reason. I believe being persistent can have a significant effect on the level of service you deliver. Just consider your colleagues’ work lives. They’re in back-to-back meetings, they travel for work and they face the same demands and deadlines as all of us. These things add up to a hectic workday, so it should come as no surprise they’re often hard to pin down.
However, just because your colleagues/internal clients are busy isn’t an excuse to let your service slip. The key is to be persistent. For example, your boss may be really tough to get in front of — and she may rarely reach out. But you obviously need to keep her happy, even if it’s tough getting her attention. My advice: Make a point to check in with her once a week for a five-minute chat. You might be surprised how much impact five minutes can have. In this case, being persistent and staying on your boss’ radar can make the difference between getting a promotion or staying in your same position.
Focus on Being Responsive
Throughout my career I’ve put a lot of time and energy into being responsive, and it has paid off. What’s the secret? Setting consistent expectations and adhering to them.
In other words, do you want to respond to a request from a colleague within a couple of hours? Or is 24 hours more reasonable? Or end of the day? There’s no right or wrong answer here — the key is establishing the fact that you will respond within a defined period of time.
In some cases you won’t have an immediate solution to the request. But, in my experience, colleagues, clients and partners want to hear from you and want to know you’re working on their particular issue. This has paid dividends for me, and I’m sure it’ll make a difference in establishing your reputation as a service leader too.
Listen with Intent
Listening is one of the most underrated skills in business — more specifically, listening with intent. Over the course of my career I’ve noticed that many people “hear” what people are saying in meetings, but very few are “listening,” and fewer yet are listening with intent.
Everyone wants to talk. Everyone wants to make their point. Instead, resist the urge to always be talking and to fill dead air with words. The best HR leaders are those who ask thoughtful questions and then sit back and listen. The key to listening with intent is to discover those pain points you can help solve. I can almost guarantee that your advice and counsel will be much more well-received and useful if you start listening with intent.
Nurturing personal connections can go a long way toward helping you develop a genuine reputation as a service leader in our industry. At Trustmark I’ve seen many instances where my colleagues work with multiple generations of a family brokerage house. Those relationships began as business relationships and, over time, evolved into friendships. The first step in shaping personal connections is showing a genuine interest in your colleagues, clients or partners. Make it a point to learn about their lives outside of work — their families and outside interests.
My suggestion: Start every meeting by asking one question about a non-work-related item (family, hobbies, sports, etc.). You might be surprised at how consistently asking that one question at the beginning of every meeting can break down barriers and build long-lasting trust.
We don’t often talk about service in our industry, but it’s definitely an area that can make a massive impact on your reputation as an HR leader. I’ve seen many HR leaders embody the qualities, skills and ideas above — and I’ve seen a few who have not. Those who have embraced service in our industry have been successful. It’s no coincidence that these leaders are consistently responsive, persistent and excellent at forming personal connections while always listening with intent.
https://talentculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/4-Ways-HR-Leaders-Can-Establish-a-Reputation-as-a-Service-Leader-scaled.jpeg12801920Alex Moralhttps://talentculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/TCLogo_web-272x60-1.pngAlex Moral2019-07-11 09:12:142019-07-11 09:12:144 Ways HR Leaders Can Establish a Reputation as a Service Leader
When it comes to the world of business, there is much that goes on behind the scenes that would scare consumers. As someone who has seen firsthand what goes on in a restaurant’s kitchen, I can tell you, it’s not a place people would find particularly appetizing. This is an example of how sometimes keeping the buying public in the dark is in the best interest of everyone. By contrast, this doesn’t work for all buying decisions, and it’s not uncommon for people to be victims of backroom deals that often turn into situations where consumers are convinced to buy products that benefit the vendor more than the consumer. For example, when you bring your car in for a simple fix, but are, instead, sold a new transmission.
When it comes to HR Technology, especially considering current market conditions, every potential customer should vet service providers thoroughly. Asking, “Can I trust you to do what is in the best interest of my company?” is a start, but you need to dig deeper. It’s important to understand what business model the prospective service provider follows and whether this model serves customers and users or investors and shareholders.
The best companies integrate with other brands to form partnerships which provide a fuller array of products and services to their customers that make the purchased product more comprehensive and of greater benefit. In an ideal world, product manufacturers should select product integrations or alliances based on functionality, price and service… the things that benefit their consumer directly. It’s important to note, there’s a distinguishable difference between companies that offer integrations with third-party products without a financial relationship versus those companies that benefit financially from their recommendations. Unfortunately, there’ll be always be vendors that succumb to the pressure of predatory venture capitalists and/or shareholders to maximize short-term cashflow as their number one priority. This can result in the organization only referring vendors that pay them the highest referral fees versus vendors that serve the best needs of the customer with functional products that are backed with good service and fair pricing. Given this, it’s always fair to ask these two questions, “Do you have outside financiers or shareholders?” and “Do you benefit financially by referring third-party products to me?” The best vendors will always consider the customer their primary business partner and work exclusively on their behalf. For consumers, understanding what is and is not good, honest customer service can be a tough thing to decipher at times, but you should have peace of mind in knowing you can trust your supplier to serve your best interests.
And You Need This, Too
As an example, imagine purchasing a large ticket item such as a company-wide HR technology upgrade. After purchase, you’re presented with an array of complementary third-party solutions that are integrated with your supplier’s product. Once presented, the benefit is obvious, such as job postings or background checking… but do you know why your vendor is recommending this product? If you find that your vendor is pushing a lot of third-party products, and you later discover they’re getting paid to refer these third-party vendors, this should raise an eyebrow and a doubt about whether this vendor’s business model can deliver good customer service.
When It Goes Sideways
As an example, Facebook started as an innovative social media product designed to bring people together into communities of friends, relatives and like-minded enthusiasts. Unfortunately, due to pressure from predatory shareholders demanding more immediate cashflow, Facebook changed their business model from providing a valuable social product into a marketing platform where they make money by selling your information, browsing proclivities and preferences off to the highest bidder, and diverged from the original business model which indelibly changed the customer experience for the worse.
Keep in mind, there are legitimate and valuable reasons why someone should purchase products from a supplier’s list of vendor integrations. Understanding the motivation and underlying relationship between the supplier/company and its vendors is important, as this may give you valuable clues you can expect to experience over the years.
There are millions of stories in the world of work. But this time, it’s personal. For me, #TChat hit close to home yesterday, when discussing issues and opportunities associated with military veteran employment. Therefore, rather than recapping the event in detail, I’d like to illustrate some key points through one soldier’s story. …
(To see highlights from the #TChat stream, watch the slideshow at the end of this post.)
One Veteran’s Dilemma
A close friend is one of the 2.4 million Americans who have volunteered to serve in the War on Terror. As a “civilian soldier” deployed as an embedded trainer by the Army National Guard, he left behind his full-time job and his comfortable family life in suburban Chicago. Since returning from Afghanistan almost 5 years ago, he has struggled to re-enter the workforce, as so many in uniform must do in these challenging economic times.
It shouldn’t have to be that way. This soldier’s credentials are impressive:
Several decades of business experience — including 14 years as a technical sales specialist at one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies
An honors degree in communications from one of our nation’s most prestigious universities
Meritorious service in three branches of the armed forces
So why was it so difficult for him to find a good employment fit when he returned?
This thoughtful soldier would say, “It’s complicated.” Partially, it’s because businesses seem reluctant to take a chance on someone who could be recalled to active duty at any time. It’s also partially because some decision-makers seem intimidated by an impressive military profile. And, partially, it’s because his years of technical sales experience seem to over-qualify him for positions he would gladly pursue. (Ironically, as he has reminded me, he willingly traveled to a remote destination halfway around the world to perform tasks that were dirty, dangerous and sometimes mind-numbingly mundane, all in service of a higher mission.)
It seems ridiculous that business weren’t finding him attractive. It is even more ridiculous to learn that he was passed over not once, but twice, for a “troops-to-teachers” government initiative. Why? Apparently, the program didn’t feel that inner-city teens could learn English from a man who had trained poor Afghans to protect remote border villages from Taliban invasions, and had fostered productive relationships with wary Afghan tribal elders.
What’s happening here? It seems there are other factors to consider. It may not be obvious, but if we want to crack the employment code for returning veterans, it deserves a closer look.
Hiring Vets: More Than a Few Good Men (& Women)
Here’s my theory: If this soldier’s story is any indicator, we should recognize that this has been a very different kind of war — and its unique character fundamentally shifts the perceptions of those who serve.
Many missions include a strong humanitarian component. Objectives have centered on winning hearts and minds, while equipping Afghans to protect and sustain themselves through improvements in infrastructure, governance, agriculture, education and commerce.
Recent veterans have had a life-and-death hand in the future of the Afghan people. Regardless of their rank, they have contributed in a meaningful way, typically persevering in desperate and desolate conditions.
After such intense involvement in a mission, it’s a tremendous shock to return home to the U.S. and carry on as usual, without a strong sense of purpose. Perhaps that’s one reason why so many veterans sign up for subsequent tours of duty. Despite the clear-and-present need for an income stream, could it be that many vets aren’t simply searching for a job, but instead are seeking meaningful work?
NOTE: Many #TChat participants offered constructive ideas to improve the re-entry, recruiting and onboarding experience for veterans. For highlights and links to helpful resources, scroll to the end of this post and check out the Storify slideshow there.
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Highlights & What’s Ahead on #TChat
SPECIAL THANKS to this week’s guest moderator, Brenden “Bo” Wright (@BrendenMWright), director of information technology recruiting at Laureate Education. He’s also a Marine veteran who served as a nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist. Brenden’s expertise in talent acquisition strategy and as a former member of the military brought tremendous depth and dimension to this week’s discussion. Did you miss the #TChat preview? Go here.
NOTE: If you’re a blogger and this #TChat session inspired you to write about veteran employment issues, we’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (at #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll add it to our archives. There are many voices in the #TChat community, with many ideas worth sharing. Let’s capture as many of them as possible. And we hope you’ll join us next Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 7-8pm ET (6-7pm CT, 5-6pm MT, 4-5pm PT, or wherever you are) for another #TChat, when we’ll be exploring issues related to government policy and human resources. Look for the preview early next week via @TalentCulture and #TChat. Enjoy your weekend!
The long-term unemployed get airtime and programs to help them retrain and find new career paths. Millennials looking for the first big job, and a way to pay school loans, draw lots of attention. But we could probably spend much more time, as a society, talking about military veterans and the challenges they face reentering the civilian workforce.
Vets have tremendously strong skill sets. Depending upon their service, they may have skills such as people management, logistics, mechanical engineering, IT, aircraft repair, med tech, civil engineering/construction, language arts and more. Most importantly, they understand teamwork and the practical, rather than theoretical, value of collaboration. So why is it so hard for them to come home to civilian jobs?
The country faces huge cuts in its defense budget. The government is trying hard to wind down one war, and equally hard to avoid formal engagement on other fronts. Caught in the middle are tens of thousands of servicemen and women — and their families — who may need a slot in a shaky civilian economy. What can we do to help them? How can we best manage them? What skills do we, as leaders and HR people, need to refresh or acquire to accommodate our veterans in today’s world of work?
These are tough questions, practical and pressing concerns. And we’re going to take them on this week on #TChat. Here are a few questions to guide our discussion:
Q1: US legislation is creating skill certifications for military experience. What else could be done? Q2: What management styles work best when leading an employee with military experience? Q3: What’s the biggest challenge for veterans in the civilian world of work? Q4: Does long-term loyalty help or hinder the career of a veteran in today’s workplace? Q5: How can HR/recruiting tech help internally assess and translate veteran assets to employers?
You may not know anyone who served in a war, and you may not know much about the Korean conflict or the Vietnam War. That’s OK. Just do some research — i.e., talk to your parents, uncles, aunts and friends. Then, join us for a very special #TChat this Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 7-8pm ET (6-7pm CT, 5-6pm MT, 4-5pm PT, or wherever you are).
We’re not afraid to take on difficult topics, and we know you aren’t either. Our guest moderator this week is Brenden “Bo” Wright (@BrendenMWright), director of information technology recruiting at Laureate Education and, as a veteran marine, a former nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist. Yours truly (@MeghanMBiro) and the rest of the #TChat gang will be there, too. We look forward to Brenden’s thoughts and yours. Tweet with us!