One of the things I hear over and over from HR professionals I talk to about working with us is that they want to feel like they are having an impact on the businesses they work with; that they are making a difference.
A clear understanding that you are definitely making a difference is a key part of what makes working life rewarding for many people, and this feeling is definitely enhanced if you can see that what you do is having a positive impact on individual people rather than in the abstract. It becomes more easily identifiable, more personal and therefore more rewarding.
Many people we talk to who come from big commercial operations have reached senior positions and been successful by any standard measure. But something they do often mention is feeling that they are out of touch with ‘on the ground’ HR, and inevitably struggle to see a positive individual impact from their actions. They are likely to be managing big initiatives, or dealing only with very senior people, with little or no involvement in the working lives of individuals in the company they are working with.
Of course they may well be seeing an impact in a different way, and no doubt it’s rewarding when a big employee wellbeing initiative they’ve had a hand in is implemented, for example, or when the staff survey responses have improved.
But what many HR specialists I talk to want is a more personal connection, and perhaps a more immediate and tangible impact, and there is no doubt that working with small and medium sized businesses allows that unique combination of involvement with ‘ordinary’ employees plus impact on overall business direction, strategy and performance.
Our consultants genuinely can see all the time that they have made a difference to individual employees (by guiding business owners to handle a situation well and fairly), to business owners as individuals (by relieving their stresses, guiding them towards good people management and providing them with advice which solves their problems and gets the result they want), and also to the business as a whole (by implementing initiatives, providing advice on business strategy and by seeing a small business grow and become more successful ‘on their watch’).
Reaching a very senior position in a big corporate requires certain attributes and qualities, and is clearly a huge achievement, and can be rewarding in many ways. And for some people, the characteristics of that type of role suit them. But if working with a big organisation isn’t what you want, and seeing a tangible, personal difference with the advice you give is important to you, or if you want impact at a senior level but also involvement ‘on the ground’, then self-employment working with small businesses might be a better fit.
I have certainly found it enormously rewarding and I get huge sense of achievement by seeing business owners I work with become more confident in handling their people issues, by seeing them happier once a challenging employee situation is resolved, and by seeing their businesses grow and flourish.
If you’re considering self-employment and want to start making a difference to small/medium sized businesses in your local area, do get in touch.