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Why HR Professionals Need to be More Selfish…in a Positive Way

Human Resources and training professionals, coaches, and consultants are some of the most dynamic and interesting people in my personal and professional life. They are also a terrific pipeline of clients for our job search and career transition coaching firm, so it may appear self-serving to lay on the compliments.

But, I assure you that my accolades are beyond self-serving. There is no more deserving client for coaching than you – the HR professional. Often, however, you are the last to go to the professional “self-care well.”

Day in and day out, you lay your professional (and sometimes personal) life on the line for your clients. You strategize, optimize, theorize and dramatize, inform, calibrate, investigate (hyperventilate?), and coach….and coach…and coach.

But, whom do you turn to when you are experiencing a professional transition? Who is your sounding board? Who has an objective, yet supportive ear to bend? How do you replenish, restore, renew?

Sadly, some of our loneliest clients seem like they would be the Most Popular kids in class – surrounded by other colleagues who should “get them,” understand their challenges. But, that just isn’t the case.

After more than 6 years of coaching both HR colleagues and those in related fields, here’s what I know (borrowing from Oprah):

You are the Sun: Create An HR Galaxy Around You

Creating an HR posse – a cadre of colleagues and friends who support you – is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your clients. These can be informal connections; so don’t put up barriers to this effort by creating structures and formalities.

Find a great, compassionate, and thoughtful colleague and tell them that you admire them. Then, ask them if they’d be your sounding board as you continue to address challenges and successes in your career.  Add one or two others. Create community around you.

Sharing your professional life with others is a gift to those people who surround you. Really. Ask anyone who feels as though they have been chosen to be an ally to a colleague and see what they say. My bet: They’ll tell you that they are flattered and it makes them feel connected as well.

Seek trusted advisors – those who will offer you honest and constructive feedback on how you (as we say in job search coaching) show up. Their compassionate outside perspective can be enlightening in this day and age, when we don’t stop to take a step back and understand how we appear to the world.

Dont Stop Looking for a Job

Yes, I know…you have the world’s most perfect job at the best company in the land. You’re satisfied and fulfilled.

But, you and I both know that the winds of change shift suddenly in any company. If you don’t keep your eyes on the marketplace and there are leadership or operational changes that affect you, you absolutely do not want to be caught without a parachute.

Our clients who are the most anxious all have the same story: I didn’t see it coming and I have to start a search from scratch.

Take calls from search firms. Scan Indeed or LinkedIn or other posting vehicles. Open your mind to the possibility that there is more than one perfect match for you – professionally at least.

Brand Yourself

Simplistic as it seems, you need a brand. Who are you? What are you famous for both outside and inside your company?

One of the most difficult lessons I learned in starting my own practice was how to effectively, efficiently brand myself. Talking about myself as a product almost hurt. But, when I realized that if I dictated what I am, I would be allowing others to see me the same way. This was the start of a practice that now has 8 coaches and consultants.

Why do you need this brand if you are an HR internal leader? Choosing your brand allows you to dictate the direction of your career rather than the other way around. This “intentionality,” as almost any coach will tell you, is key to moving toward what makes you happy.

If your existing brand isn’t what makes you happy, determine small, incremental steps that gently move the boat towards the shore. Start saying it aloud: “I am an HR professional with an expertise in communications and I’m known for targeted, directed employee messaging that drives change.”

Test the messaging with trusted advisors (see above) and believe in it. If you don’t, no one will.

Physical & Emotional Self Care

Learn to be someone who sees yourself from another’s perspective and offer yourself the kindness that you afford others.

This perspective is so valuable to the HR professional who is mired in the daily muck of employee and leader challenges. Taking on the weight of these challenges is an assault to the soul at times and often results in some internal self-talk that is not in support of you.

Simple moments of self-care, such as yoga, meditation, walking, listening to music (while walking to a meeting instead of chatting on the phone) may be just the antidote. It is not necessary for me to sing the praises of good physical health and self-care because you already know this tune. Rather, allow me to be one more voice in the chorus: Take care of you. Be your own friend. That friend would want you to take care of you too.


  • 26 June 2017

By Lora Poepping

Lora Poepping is the Founder and President of Plum Coaching & Consulting (www.plumseattle.com), a firm that delivers job search coaching, resume services, LinkedIn profiles and HR small business consulting to a vast array of clients throughout the world. Lora began her corporate career with Deloitte's San Francisco practice and in...


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