HR Consultants

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It has been quipped that "a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time." What that quip overlooks is that when consultants have told you the time, it will normally become evident that they have saved you a lot of it-and a lot of energy too. The HR consultant who saves a company time and energy represents a special blend of specialist and generalist: a specialist to the extent of focusing specifically on human resource issues, but a generalist in terms of familiarity with the broad range of issues, resources, perspectives and priorities that have to be distinguished, integrated, juggled and optimized.

As an independent outsider, the HR consultant may be able to get a more comprehensive and objective overview of the corporate forest, in virtue of not being tangled up in its trees branches and twigs.

HR consultants are external service providers who provide a range of services such as organizational development, policy development, workforce planning, performance management and other HR-related issues. Their services can be conducted on-site or off-site, depending on the preference and needs of the client organization. In addition, while some organizations might adopt an "a la carte" approach of selecting certain services that they require, others might find it more cost-effective and convenient to employ the HR consultants to provide a comprehensive range of services.

There are some benefits of employing HR consultants. Firstly, they are able to free up the organization's existing human resources that can be re-allocated to more productive and strategic matters. Secondly, as outsiders, they can provide a more objective perspective in HR matters, such as analyzing the workflow or existing work processes. Thirdly, they can also serve as a source of new ideas, or an objective third party whose recommendations for change might be more palatable to affected employees. Lastly, they are also more flexible for being deployed in specific projects, such that existing work arrangements are not disrupted at all.

Some functions that HR consultants perform are as follows.

* Organizational climate surveys to obtain objective feedback from employees, from which recommendations for improvement could be made to the management
* Personality profiling to help the organization in its recruitment and selection process, as well as in developing the potential of its existing employees
* Improving the performance management system so that the organization can better utilize its existing human resources
* Career coaching to help employees, on the individual basis, to achieve their potential
* Recommendations on achieving a better work-life balance so as to improve the overall productivity of the organization.

In evaluating an HR consultant prior to selecting one, it is important to consider his or her existing and previous clients, general reputation, fee structure, the consulting "paradigms" (conceptual and operational frameworks favored) adopted, allied business experience in capacities other than consulting that may inform the consulting process and information gathering methods/issue and task prioritizing.

It will also be important to have some idea of the "aftercare" service provided as follow-up client service, where this is desired. Any cross-cultural experience may prove invaluable in organizations in which cultural considerations are central to the successful functioning of the business or service.
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