How to Get the Most Out of Hiring an HR Transformation Advisor
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built by one person, either. If you’re mapping out your HR transformation, you may be thinking about hiring outside advisors to supplement your team. Bringing in a fresh perspective can be a huge help in guiding your HR transformation, but even the most accomplished and knowledgeable advisors need the right organizational support and approach to maximize their partnership.
Having spent years as an HR practitioner working with outside advisors and now after working as an advisor, I have learned a few tips to achieve the best outcomes of a transformation engagement. The best advisor-client relationships center around openness, flexibility and internal collaboration. If you’re bringing in outside help to support your HR transformation, follow these three tips to make sure the advisor can make an impact on your business right away.
Be Flexible About the Scope
At the beginning of your engagement, it’s very likely you won’t fully understand what you really need — and that’s just fine. You and your team will almost certainly head into a transformation with plenty of ideas, but you’ll also uncover completely new aspects of the project during the discovery phase.
You may find that there are serious issues or challenges you didn’t really understand early on. Perhaps your team has effectively insulated you from some of the messiest processes. Maybe you assumed one thing to be true, but you quickly find out it’s not. These unexpected wrinkles are why it really helps to be open and flexible throughout the engagement.
Building a partnership based on trust allows you to be flexible to complete the work that needs to be done in the way it needs to be done. Don’t just focus on tackling the initial scope of work, since your actual needs will likely change throughout the process.
When working with a advisor, don’t try to paint a pretty or unrealistic picture. They need to know all the raw, ugly details to effectively guide you through your transformation.
Sure, all companies have trade secrets or internal policies that they don’t necessarily want to advertise to the outside world. But if you’re trying to hire someone to help you with your project, you have to be willing to open up your business early in the process. Otherwise you’ll be operating on inaccurate premises that will limit the effectiveness of whatever changes you’re trying to implement.
As a advisor, it’s very difficult to operate in a project in which the client picks and chooses what information they expose you to. Sometimes a client withholds information because they have a very rigid idea of what they want to execute up front. However, these types of clients may be overlooking a core issue that has to be resolved, which means they’ll just be layering additional functionality on top of a fundamentally broken system (something I’ve written about before).
Incorporate Different Internal Perspectives
To give the advisor a full view of how things work now and what needs to change, you need to include as many internal voices as possible in the transformation process.
That means you can’t just bring in your trusted, senior leaders and your mid-level managers. You need to also include employees at the analyst or associate level across different skill sets who are actively using the systems you’re trying to overhaul. That includes the HR team and also customers of HR — managers, associates, and people who manage downstream systems that consume HR data.
Even the most hands-on micromanager is not performing these tasks on a day-to-day basis, which means there is information he or she is just not aware of. If you don’t invite a multitude of voices, you’re really missing out on an opportunity to refine what you’re actually trying to change.
For example, during one engagement I spoke with a part-time file clerk who helped me understand how dysfunctional the paper-based system was. She explained the manual process for sorting, mailing, filing and auditing. That discovery with the file clerk provided a very visual overview of how much time was being spent managing paper. Once they understood that, management was able to bring forward a new HR system with better, faster self-service for managers and employees.
You never know what piece of information will shape an important transformation, so don’t be afraid to be open and inclusive. Your advisor will thank you, and your organization will ultimately reap the benefits.
Need help with your HR transformation? Learn more about the IA process.
Christina Felty is a senior advisor at IA. Her experience in a recruiting, payroll, IT, and process improvement makes her a superstar problem-solver for IA clients.