Today’s HR leaders face more challenges than in the past. Generational differences mean employee customers want and need different approaches based on age. Executives are under pressure to produce results and are increasingly looking to HR leaders for answers. The proliferation of products and options means HR leaders need to be better “consultants” than they’ve ever been.
Service is a big part of being a successful consultant and can mean different things to different people. But I believe there are four key ways you can provide outstanding service to enhance and grow your relationships with colleagues and internal partners while continuing to lead a successful HR team.
#1: Create a common bond. Creating a common bond is a crucial first step when forming personal connections with partners and internal stakeholders. This has helped me establish long-term, trusted relationships. At Trustmark, I’ve seen my colleagues create common bonds firsthand with internal partners and customers. These relationships began as business relationships but grew into friendships over time as common bonds were identified.
Identifying common bonds is a gradual process, but it starts with showing a genuine interest in your colleagues and internal partners. Make it a point to learn about their life outside of work, such as their families and outside interests. You might be surprised by how much you have in common. I recommend approaching every relationship with the thought that it ultimately will be long term.
#2: Rely on your ability to be responsive. Throughout my career, I’ve prided myself on being responsive. For me, the key has been setting a consistent expectation and adhering to it. Do you want to respond to customer questions and requests within a couple of hours? Or is 24 hours more reasonable? By the end of the day? Whatever time frame you land on, just know that responsiveness matters. When customers know they can count on you when it matters most, it goes a long way toward building and sustaining lasting relationships. In some cases, you won’t have an immediate solution to your customers’ requests, but in my experience, those customers want to hear from you and know you’re working on it. Responsiveness matters.
#3: Push yourself to be persistent. Case in point: You’re working with an internal partner who’s not great with follow-up when it comes to approvals. It’s frustrating, as you have been following up on the approval status with this partner and have not received any answers. A few days later, you follow up again. You’re persistent without being bothersome. It’s a fine line, but you walk it. Your persistence in staying on track and on a schedule will ultimately enhance this relationship. Being persistent is an art form that can position you as a successful service leader.
#4: Listen with intent. This has always been an underrated skill, in my opinion. So many miss out on this simple yet hugely impactful skill. I find that many people hear what customers are saying in a meeting, but very few are actually listening, and fewer yet are listening with intent. If you want to establish yourself as a true service leader, start listening with intent—you’ll find your counsel will be much more effective.
Ultimately, service is essential. I’ve seen it many times over the course of my career, especially in my current role at Trustmark. If you thoughtfully and strategically embrace being responsive, being persistent, forming personal connections, and listening with intent, you, too, can become a service leader in your industry.
Alex Moral is the Senior Vice President of Trustmark Voluntary Benefits. He initially joined Trustmark in July 2006 as Vice President and Actuary. Before joining Trustmark, Moral worked for American United Life, Horace Mann Life, GE, and AIG. He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of the Philippines and a master’s degree in actuarial science from Ball State University.