Key Actions for Impactful Human Resource Professionals

Working with hundreds of human resource professionals over the course of my career, I have observed certain characteristics and actions that are shared by the most highly effective and impactful human resource leaders and human resource consultants. Here are a few key actions one should take to be a highly effective human resource professional or employee relations consultant. 

Be an Advocate for Your Employees

First and foremost, understand that as a human resources consultant, your job is to represent the concerns of the company’s employees. Essentially, the purpose of human relations is to give employees a voice so they can feel confident that their message will be conveyed and heard by senior management. This is especially important with a nonunion workforce, as the number one reason employees seek out union representation is because they feel the company does not listen or acknowledge what they have to say.

Be Visible, Accessible and Listen

A key component of a quality human relations department involves trust and it is impossible to achieve this if people do not spend time together and get to know each other. Spending just a few hours with employees on the factory floor several times a week can yield big dividends. Aside from getting to know each other a bit better, employees like seeing their leadership on the floor, as they interpret it as a demonstration of caring and concern caring. Conversely, managers that do not interface with employees on a regular basis are perceived to be indifferent and aloof. CEO or management face time with employees is great for morale and productivity and as an employee relations consultant, you should encourage your upper management to take part in this simple act.  

Define Your Role with Senior Management (Tell It Like It Is)

It is essential that the HR consultant has a clear understanding with the site CEO and senior management as to what their role is in the organization. Agree that your job as the human relations consultant is to be candid and to be upfront, no matter how unpopular the message.  This is extremely important, as many human relations managers often feel inhibited or uncomfortable passing along bad news, so they dilute or minimize the message. As a result, senior management fails to take the actions necessary to remedy the problem, and when left unattended, typically leads to bigger and more difficult challenges.

Make Clear That “People Issues” Are the Responsibility of All Managers

All too often, managers within an organization define employee issues as being the responsibility of the human resources department. While managers tend to focus on task completion, they must be reminded that managing people is an equally important part of their job. Research consistently shows that employees view the company based on their daily experiences with their immediate supervisor or manager. A good HR consultant will make sure that supervisors have a clear understanding of their role in regards to helping employees with issues and provide employee relations and interpersonal skills training as needed.

Coach and Counsel Supervisors

As stated in the above paragraph, supervisors and managers have a direct and impactful influence on their employees. A good employee relations consultant must recognize that first-line supervision is a demanding and difficult job and that they can provide valuable assistance in the form of coaching and counseling to this group. Additionally, it is important for human relations consultants to touch base with supervisors on a regular basis, and be seen by this group as a valuable resource that they can draw upon and discuss various situations in an open and candid manner without fear of being chastised.

Hutchison Group President and Founder

The above article was written by Cameron J. Hutchison, President, and Founder of Hutchison Group, Inc.  With over 30 years of experience, the Hutchison Group is a highly regarded human resource consulting firm focused on all aspects of labor and employee relations; helping union and non-union employers improve productivity, teamwork, and performance.  Visit our web page at