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.