Empowering HR Consultants

There are five strategies HR consultants should follow in order to create for themselves a more deliberate and uplifting future in the human resource field, including a conviction for collaboration and learning who to ignore, according to the author.

Monday, August 27, 2012
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My next-door neighbor was flushed. She'd just returned from yet another job interview and was once again being offered another enticing, exciting, promising, challenging, pick-of-the-litter job. The year was 2006 and Mary was a thriving HR consultant in a world where the floodgates were notably open and the water for HR consultants was flowing. After many offers, she chose an internal HR position with a local hospital and life was good -- for two years anyway. By 2008, the economy and life changed. The water and the jobs stopped flowing. Hospital budgets fell along with job growth. At the end of the year she was let go (last to come, first to leave).

A door closed.

It would be three years before one opened again.

According to Derek Smith, senior director of research at Kennedy Consulting Research & Advisory, "To thrive or merely survive in an environment characterized by lackluster demand, HR consultancies must innovate and pursue multi-pronged approaches to growing their organizations.

"In the longer term," he continues, "leading consultancies will be challenged to reshape their businesses to remain relevant in a maturing market where service commoditization is an ever-present threat." That's uplifting. I guess Mary's organization didn't get the memo.

So the question for us in the HR world as the doom and gloom looms low and we are continued to challenge that phrase we love to hate of "doing more with less," how are we supposed to keep our head above water, when the rip tide is constantly pulling? How are we to not only inspire, invigorate, and infuse organizations with the manpower, motivation, and muster when we can't call it up in ourselves? If the home fires aren't burning how are we ultimately going to light a fire in anyone else? 

Good news. The cavalry is coming up over the hill and they are carrying lifeboats. I have uncovered some strategies that are working for my HR training, OD, coaching clients, and yes for me personally. Here are five strategies that, if fully implemented, you can use to shift that tide that pulls and create the one that binds for more a more deliberate and uplifting HR future.

Strategy #1: Ignore "them."  

Who is "them"? The outside influences of media, mayhem and cubicle monsters who gleefully gossip. Their viral intentions of pulling you down with the baby and the bathwater will suck you into a sinkhole you didn't know was there. Don't accept their invitation to the negativity ball and you will be able to rise above and go beyond the irrelevant chatter and focus on what is more important. Instead, see the big pic. Remember the housing boom in 2003 and 2004? Didn't we think that would be forever? Hello? Your house is probably worth close to half of what it was then. Didn't we think the Champagne was going to flow endlessly in the late 90's when the tech boom was in its heyday? Everything is a cycle and this too shall pass. Keep perspective and hold the one that works for you.

Strategy #2: What else is possible?

Notice where your thinking goes when that question is posed. Questions open the field to create possibility where nothing existed before. Statements, assessments, judgments, and decisions close thinking, creativity, and possibility. Questions open curiosity and generate new ideas. When I couldn't find a job in 1986 because the international market was flooded and I didn't know what to do, I lay in bed and asked "What else is possible?" over and over. Later that day I got an inspiration to create the very thing I was looking for-an opportunity for work. I called it "PowerLunch" for the unemployed or soon to be unemployed and I decided to test the idea and see what the interest was. I had 10,000 brochures printed up with the concept of a "matchmaker for business" went down to the corner of Connecticut and K in downtown D.C. to pass them out. For three days at the top of my lungs, I yelled "Powerlunch, get your powerlunch" and while the brochures were snatched up, no one responded. At the end of the third day no one had called. I'd spent all that time, money, and energy and nothing had come out of it. Until the phone rang. It was a Washington Post reporter who'd seen one of the brochures and wanted to put the idea on the front page of the Style section. Forty-eight hours later, my picture was on the front page and my business took off. That ultimately turned into my speaking, training, and coaching business on dealing with difficult people, situations, stress, and could not have happened without it. All because I asked the question "What else is possible?" What could you create out of that question?

Strategy #3: Intentionality Influences.

What are you looking to create? More jobs? More joy in your work or personal life? What is the intention you may be subconsciously living? I had a coaching client, a mid level manager, who wanted to rise up the corporate ladder. He had been in the organization for a number of years, but couldn't see how to make the jump up. He had all the right moves, but when a position opened he was passed up. We looked at his intentions, and realized he has subconscious program that "feeling like he wasn't enough", and "wasn't good enough", that was keeping him from having what he said he wanted. Once we identified those subtle programs that were influencing his ability to move forward, we cleared them and he is now in the job of his dreams. Clearing unclogs and opens the door to possibility.

Strategy #4: Let it go and have what you want.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines want as:" to be without; lack". Therefore, if you are wanting, you are essentially lacking. If you are lacking, you are lacking in one of three arenas-control, security, or approval. Wanting is a flag for a lack of one of those three. When you identify the real core lack and let it go by actually giving yourself the thing you think you want from the outside, you will be able to have the thing you want, because you have let go of the "need" for it. A client desperately wanted a relationship. He'd been on the internet, dating sites, went to speed dating events, and looked everywhere. You know why it's hard to meet someone at a singles event? Because everyone is "wanting" so much, that it actually gets in the way of having. You can't want and have at the same time. So we worked on releasing his wants. Two months later he was in his local Starbucks and sat down for his usual am coffee and ended up sharing a table with a woman he began chit chatting with. The chat turned into a three hour conversational tour. They went out to dinner that night. They married nine months later. Now, he not only has the love he was initially wanting and ultimately let go of, but his money situation has also turned around. Letting go of wanting allows for anything to show up. What can you let go of so you can have?

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Strategy #5: Conviction for collaboration.

My coach once told me: "You can have anything you want if you 'have the right conversation, in the right mood, at the right time with the right person.' " You can create anything you want with the right resources, mindset, platform, and conviction. What you don't have someone else does. If you can offer someone something that they don't have, that opens the door for you to create your vision. What do you want to create within the position you are holding, for your organization, or for you in your life? Inherent in collaboration is creativity. Creativity initiates momentum and with that force, anything is possible. What is in your creation sphere? Who can help you with your ultimate goal? What do they have that you don't? What internal programming do you need to let go of to pave the way for you to aspire, inspire and ultimately have more of what your vision mission is for your life?


Remember Mary, who lost her HR job? She went through some challenging times; She ended up unemployed for more than two years, and sadly even lost her home. But in 2011, she once again found her dream job working for a contractor as an internal consultant, got a new place and is now eagerly rebuilding her life. The appreciation and gratitude for work she now holds is at its highest and she feels more optimistic and empowered than ever before. She is still asking the question, "What else is possible?" and is redefining that for herself and for the organization she works with.

By ignoring the "unsupportive" invitation, asking questions for possibility, focusing on her intention, letting go, and collaborating, she has finally created a life that doesn't just work, but thrives.

What else is possible for you?

Sandra Crowe is a leading thinker in the areas of dealing with difficult workplace situations. A certified ontological coach with a master's degree in applied psychology, she consults with Fortune 500 companies such as Marriott, Citicorp, Sony and many government agencies -- including The White House, FBI, Social Security and NASA. Sandra is the author of a new book, I Didn't Sign Up For This, and can be reached at

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