How many of us really lead a glamorous life in HR? I mean, really. Glamorous?
Glamour in today’s context seems to be associated with success, or the spoils of success. Using Fergie’s song Glamour (featuring Ludacris) as an example:
Chaperons and limousines
Shopping for expensive things
I be on the movie screens
Magazines and bougie scenes
I am writing this blog post on a train trip to Montreal. Small perk, I am travelling in business class. I’ve had a nice dinner and I have plenty of room to spread out. I just finished a great roll-out today on a change initiative with a client I love and cherish and I am about to embark upon a similar day tomorrow in another city. I run a successful blog and stumble upon politicians and famous people from time-to-time. Sounds glamorous, right?
But let’s look at the reality for a moment. I’m away from home. It has only been 12 hours, but I miss my husband. I miss my dogs. My entertainment is Facebook tonight instead of the next episode of TURN. My feet hurt from walking so far in heels. I don’t have time to shop for jewels and fancy clothes. I had to spend the weekend prepping to be ready for this week, and there’s another workshop to facilitate on Thursday. Success has few spoils.
I “think” there are HR Professionals out there who envy my practice. Well, they better. My nature is to envy other people’s practices so I guess also I think that there must be others who envy mine. Touché.
There is a reality that many inside HR folks wish they were outside consultants. They think having greater opportunity to change thinking or to make a better project is glamorous. They may think there’s good money in being a consultant. Simply stated though, good HR consulting practices are hard to come by because they take a long time to build, and the process is in no way glamorous.
As the facilitator of The EO List, I connect with a lot of HR Professionals at a crossroads who for one reason or another make the decision to hang a shingle. I feel really conflicted about telling other people to “go for it” though. Being a consultant is a personal choice and you have to be prepared for how different your life may be from a regular HR gig. I’m happy, but I’m also lucky. Sadly, I find that most go back to in-house when they discover how much time and business development is involved in establishing a practice.
If you’re one of those who think you’d be better off as a consultant, consider the following:
- What are your skills as a marketer, a business developer? Do you have the connections? Are you social media-savvy? Do you have the luxury of the lead time it takes to land projects? How important will repeat business be?
- Do you have business skills? How will you account for time, write proposals, establish systems, keep track of the finances, deal with corporate matters and plan strategically?
- How are your time management skills?
- How are your client relationship management skills? When it comes down to negotiating contracts, delivering and getting paid, you have to be able to manage all three ends well.
- What is your product offering? Can you differentiate yourself from the rest of the market?
- Do you understand your target market? Is your skill set suitable to large organizations, small ones, industry niches, not-for-profits?
- Do you have to go it alone?
- Can you really deliver when the client wants it delivered? What is your model of service delivery?
A wise consultant and mentor once told me “revenue minus expense equals profit”. In work, I have never been far from this expression, focusing on building a pipeline and maintaining relationships. As I get older, I realize I’ve been overly frugal from time-to-time, and have also realized the need to look long-term at profiting from various investments in systems and processes. That isn’t always easy to do when you have bills to pay.
So before you make that dive toward the glamorous life, think twice. But if you do it, live it!