Imagine your client says this to your boss: "[Insert your name] is the best HR Business Partner around...Truly my TRUSTED ADVISOR." Wouldn't that be an awesome feeling?
In our profession as HRBPs, the majority of our time is invested in client meetings. The opportunity to engage in a two-way dialogue enables the melding of the minds in resolving HR issues. This also presents a prime opportunity for us to earn trust and credibility from our clients. However, how many of us can honestly say that we engage our clients in an impactful manner each and every time? There are times when such meetings seem frustrating and unproductive. Here are my three tips on leading effective and meaningful client meetings. I call these tips as simply HOT tips:
- What's the HEADLINE?
- What's your OPINION?
- What's the TAKEAWAY?
Create Meeting Agenda: HEADLINE
The meeting’s purpose needs to be clear and impactful to grab our clients' attention. Here are two types of meeting agendas that can be effective in ensuring that we capture our clients' undivided attention:
Competition based agenda. Our clients face tough external competition and any avenue that enables them to gain insights on external market trends or conditions are highly valued. Some examples of meeting agendas with such an angle include:
- Who do we lose our top talents to and how we can retaliate?
- Comparison of our employee benefits against the industry
- How to recruit the best talents out there?
Benefits driven agenda simply shows the benefits of what our HR recommendation does for our clients. It is an effective means in getting our clients' attention due to the common notion that we are simply interested in knowing the things that matter to us. Here's some examples of a ‘What-Is-In-It-For-Me’ (WIIIFM) driven meeting agenda:
- Incentives on revising Sales Incentives plan
- Monetary benefits for providing employee wellness benefits
- How an Employee Engagement initiative drives bottom line
Separate OPINIONS from Facts & Be Courageous
The real value of a HRBP comes from the fact that we are positioned in a way that we can appreciate the context and challenges our clients face and are able to recommend and execute actions towards better employee-related outcomes for our clients. To help our clients in making good decisions, we need to separate factual information from those that are of our opinion. Here are some examples:
Topic: Performance Management
Fact: What is our company's Performance Improvement Process?
Opinion: How can we ensure key performance indicators are objective and measurable?
Topic: Staff Retention
Fact: What are the market benchmarks for pay ranges of a particular function?
Opinions: How much should we compensate employees to stay competitive?
Equally important, we need to be courageous in giving our clients our honest opinions, no matter how unpopular our opinions may be.
Provide Key TAKEAWAYS
At the end of any client meeting, we would have elicited numerous stands, arguments, or decisions. At times, especially during long meetings, it may be unclear on what actions need to be taken by all involved parties. Hence, it is critical that we summarise the key points of a meeting and more importantly, seek alignment on agreed actions and action delivery timeline. Not only will this keep everyone at the meeting on the same page, but will also provide our clients the means to measure our deliverables and increase our credibility when we actually deliver what we had committed to do.
In a Nutshell
We all love to be recognised by our clients as valued HR Business Partners. As HRBPs, we engage our clients most often during meetings, and the above suggestions are effective means in upping our game when we meet with our clients. Although getting 'brownie points' from our clients are profitable ventures, the trust and credibility that we gain serve a higher purpose: the ability for us to enable:
- Our organisation/company to having a competitive advantage via Human Resources Management, and
- The uplifting of our HR profession as a value-adding entity.
P.S. Special thanks to my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Jon Wheeler, for his idea contribution. Jon, you are the man! :)