HR Advisors Conference Blog

Further thoughts from the conference or about the challenges of being in an HR Advisory role.

Do you know the secret reason managers ring HR?

Sometimes they ring us because they like us, sometimes it’s because they see we are there to help them with their teams (although some managers think we just block them), sometimes they don’t understand a policy and sometimes it’s because they know they should ring HR.

But there’s a secret reason managers ring too….

It might be that they have an issue in the team they don’t want to deal with. It might be they don’t feel confident or skilled enough to talk to their team. They might be trying too hard to be friends. And one of the fundamental things we get to understand as HR Advisors is that some managers ring us about an HR policy or procedure, because they want to know how to get around the policy. They want to see where they could take a short cut or not have to go through all the steps required.

This is where your skill as an HR Advisor comes in – picking up on why a manager is really ringing. Are they not confident to have a courageous conversation? Are they being too nice to their team and letting them take too much leave or at times that don’t work for the business? Are they wanting to short cut a process?

The advice and support we give is just as much about what they’re asking, but also what they are NOT asking or saying.

So how can you make sure you’ve really helped?

  • Ask managers if they feel your advice will help them with the issue, or if there is anything else that might cause a challenge – and see if that brings out more information.
  • Book a meeting with them rather than try and give your total advice over the phone. That way you can also see from their body language what the issue is, and be able to give better advice.
  • Suggest they go and talk to another manager who had to deal with the same issue and that you know can give some advice on handling it right.
  • Make 2 – 3 suggestions on different tools or techniques, which you think may help with the real secret reason they have called you.
  • Book a follow up call 2 – 3 days later to see how they went, or go and actually see them!

In fact, if you’re trying to become more operationally strategic, it can be a great idea to schedule a fortnightly or monthly phone call with each of the managers you support (depending on how many you support!). When they know you are going to call them regularly and just ask how they are going, what’s happening with their team and tell them some of the other areas managers are working on – they will often start to open up and see you as a coach.

So think about the secret reason they are ringing and you might find you give much better advice!

If you haven’t booked yet for the HR Advisors Conference UK – there are still tickets left for London and Manchester and we will be talking about other practical ways you can be a culture champion in your business! Check it out at


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