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Why all HR leaders should have a coach right now

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

All leaders can benefit from coaching – but I strongly believe that HR leaders are particularly deserving of this support. Especially right now.

HR leaders have unique challenges that are unlike many other senior leaders within an organization. They also have a huge opportunity to influence our workplaces for the better.

Because, here's the thing: there is a moment in time happening – a moment where organizations are being called to re-imagine and strengthen their employer value proposition or lose talent. This is a moment that organizations can’t afford to miss - and they need their HR leaders at their best for it.

But through all of the challenges of the past 18 months, understandably, many HR leaders are in “survival mode”. Here are the top 3 ways a coach can help support HR leaders right now:

🔥 Burnout – There have been incredible demands, pressure, and additional workload put on HR departments over the last 20+ months. HR has needed to hold space for people through fear, uncertainty and change. This is emotionally-taxing work. Many HR departments have also absorbed significant additional pandemic-related work without additional resources. HR is a “helping profession” - many people in it are apt to take of others and the business before themselves. But I speak to many senior HR leaders who are currently feeling that they are stuck in reaction mode and not able to do their best work. And their engagement with their work is suffering because of it – they want to advance initiatives that will create better workplaces, but they are too busy putting out fires. They are burned out.

When our HR leaders are burned out, it not only puts their mental health at risk, it also means they may have less capacity to support others. “Compassion fatigue” occurs when “an individual reaches a point of diminished capacity to empathize or care about others due to the constant exposure to other's pain.” A coach can support HR leaders in taking care of and sustaining themselves, so they can best support others.

👊 Driving change - In an era of the Great Resignation (Contemplation, Reset – whatever you want to call it!), employees are voting with their feet if they are not happy. There are BIG issues and conversations that require attention. Your workplace culture and whether it meets employee expectations. The lack of diversity, equity and inclusion in many workplaces. The absence of psychological safety that exists on many teams. Many leaders not having the increasingly-needed skills of empathy, compassion and leading through change and uncertainty.

HR leaders are a critical driver and partner for many of these initiatives. But they need time, focus and support to work toward the necessary change. They need to be able to discern between the "critical few" activities and the "trivial many". A coach can support HR leaders in defining what activities are most important, and act as a thought partner and co-strategist in advancing those initiatives.

🙏 Isolated position - HR leaders are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical barometer in complex, nuanced and challenging circumstances. And there is no shortage of challenging circumstances in these times! Because of the nature of their role, HR leaders often can't turn to their peers for support. Maybe they can speak to their CEO or COO, but there is often a direct reporting relationship. HR needs a confidential and objective space to explore their greatest challenges. Because the reality is:

There is no HR for HR, but there should be.

A coach can provide the objective and confidential support that HR leaders rarely get but so desperately need.

The time is now to provide support to your HR leaders – in being the best they can, for themselves, and in driving positive change for the organizations and people they serve.

If you are an HR leader interested in support or a CEO or business-owner interested in supporting your HR department with a coach, I would love to hear from you.

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