How to choose the right HR Consultant for your business

How to choose the right HR Consultant for your business

When choosing an independent HR Consultant many business owners will usually google ‘HR Consultants near me’.  However, how do you then choose the right HR Expert from the search results?   Here are some tips to help you:-

1. Are they qualified?

Would you believe that you don’t need to be qualified or accredited to set yourself up as an HR Consultant?   In my humble opinion this is very wrong and there are many of us trying to levy for this to be changed.   Not only is it completely unfair to businesses who have the right to expect the very best advice, it also massively devalues the HR Profession.

My advice is to always ask whether someone is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD).     If you are looking for someone to help you with HR administration; recruitment and operational HR, you will likely want someone who is a member.  However, if you are looking for someone to help you with strategic HR then you will want to make sure that they are a ‘Fellow’.  This is the highest level of accreditation with an exacting assessment process and shows that your chosen HR Consultant has  strategic as well as transactional skills and experience.

You may also want to ask if they are a platinum accredited member of the HR Independents Organisation, the UK body for Independent HR Consultants and People Professionals.  A platinum member will have gone through a rigorous assessment process by a member of their senior leadership team to assess that they are a competent and qualified practitioner.  They are required to provide evidence that their practice is well run; fully GDPR compliant with good financial and risk practices and have the ability to manage case loads, projects and client files.   To check whether your HR Consultant is registered and to find out more about their standards check here.

2. What keeps you up at night?

It’s important to choose the right HR Consultant for the task in hand.    Many HR Consultants are administration experts but may not have the specific expertise that your business needs.    If you need help with a complex employee relations issue then ask them to tell you about the most challenging discrimination or unfair dismissal case that they have dealt with.  Ask them the steps that they took to resolve this and what the outcome was.   Similarly, if you need someone to help you implement a redundancy or restructure and reorganisation, ask the HR Consultant to provide evidence of having led a similar programme.   Questions to ask are:   “what tools and resources did you provide to the management team to help them prepare for redundancy consultations?”; “what steps did you take to avoid potential  litigation?” and “what support did you give to the employees left behind?”

3. How commercial are they?

HR Consultants are there to help you navigate through complex employment legislation (think TUPE; discrimination; whistleblowing).  However, they should also be commercial and pragmatic and come up with the right solution to meet your unique business needs.   This means that any advice that they give you should be clearly focussed on your business strategy; visions and goals.    A Good HR Consultant will always ask you about your business goals and will focus on giving you ‘best fit’ advice rather than ‘best practice’.  Your HR Consultant should hold themselves to the same commercial standards as your Marketing Manager or your Finance Manager.   They must be able to understand your people metrics and help you shape your people strategy around what your people need to do and how they need to do it to be successful.   This is particularly true if you are looking for someone to help you with your organisational design or overall people strategy.   Questions to ask are:    “what commercial impact did your last project/role have on the business?”;   “talk me through the steps you took to create the People Strategy?”; “what were  your key people metrics?” and “was was the % increase/decrease on these metrics year-on-year?”

4. Testimonials

All people professionals will be able to show you testimonials whether these are on their website; LinkedIn or Google My Business.    If they don’t have any, or, the testimonials don’t relate to the problem you have, or the role that you want them to play in your business, then my advice would be to keep on looking.

5. Knowing your limits

I am the first person to tell you that I am not right for all potential clients.   I believe in under-promising and over-delivering but never in blagging it.   If you approach me about, say, a remuneration and benefits survey, I will be the first person to tell you that I am not the right HR Consultant for you.   My reputation is built on transparency; authenticity and results and if I am not right for you I will not compromise myself or you.  I would much rather refer you to someone within my trusted network who will deliver what you need them to.




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