We think one of the best bits about being an HR consultant to small businesses is the variety you get. It keeps life and work interesting for the consultant, which is something many of them are seeking, particularly if they have been employed in one place for a significant time. But actually if utilised effectively, that variety in the consultant’s client base can have a direct positive impact on individual clients as well.
Obviously there’s a value in having sector-experience, which is why some HR consultants either work only in one sector, or have a bit of a niche in a specific sector. It means you have a deep understanding of the specific issues, trends and likely culture of employers in that sector, which can clearly enhance the advice and services you provide.
But there is a danger in working with only one sector, in that you lose touch with how things are done elsewhere, and find it more difficult to bring in new and creative ideas. Many small employers do things a certain way because it’s always been done that way, and that tendency can apply to whole sectors as well as individual employers.
Maintaining a variety of clients from widely differing sectors offers a unique opportunity for a small business HR consultant (or actually any professional adviser) to observe how things are done across a wide range of industries, and apply those ideas and solutions elsewhere. This brings additional value to the client, who gains the huge benefit of learning from elsewhere without having to seek out those ideas and solutions themselves.
When visiting clients, or talking to them, we encourage our consultants to find out as much as possible about how things work, about the business, what they do, how they do it, about the managers, the staff, the business owner. All of this helps make our advice much better quality anyway, but it also gives the consultant plenty of scope for creativity with problem solving. It means when they are talking to another client about a specific problem, they can draw on their experience and observations and identify new solutions which work in a different industry and might also suit their client.
Even better than that, in the spirit of being proactive and preventing problems rather than solving them, our consultants can look at things which the client doesn’t even know could be improved, and suggest new ways of working based on their experience elsewhere, and then help put those in place.
All of this means that variety not only makes life more interesting for the consultant, it also brings job satisfaction as they can see the impact their creativity and ideas have, and enhances and strengthens their relationship with clients who are seeing the enormous value being brought to their business in turn.