The different hats of the HR professional

Madam and mister hats off! Does this mean anything to you? If so, you know your classics! If not, this metaphor will quickly take on its full meaning. As an HR manager or representative, we are required to be versatile in our environment. Yes, depending on the situation your posture will change and that’s when you will have to change your hat. Easy to say, less easy to do! We often have a predisposition for a particular style. But then, when should I change my hat and how? Does this mean I no longer have to be myself? Let’s look at some examples of the different hats of the HR professional that may resonate with you.

Here are 3 contexts anddifferent employee profiles, as well as the posture that can be adopted accordingly.

The discreet

We all know a person who, when faced with a problem, tends to go into their bubble and activate their autopilot mode of thinking. Associating this behavior with autonomy can be tempting, but here this skill can act like a double-edged sword. Here, the employee will tend not to go outside his or her knowledge spectrum. As they say “you can’t know what you don’t know”. This means that in all his desire to solve the problem, he will have blind spots that will prevent him from finding a new solution. This is when you put on your coaching hat! The objective will be to get the employee to find solutions for themselves by guiding them with targeted and precise questions, allowing them to challenge their status quo:

“What difference could you have made? What were your good moves in the situation? What would have been the advantages of acting differently? “.

The difficulty here is not giving the answers, even if you have them. We are in fact seeking to transform the employee, by allowing them to use their own strengths, so that they integrate the emergence of new perspectives as much as possible. This will take time, but will position you as a development lever in the eyes of the employee.

The illusionist

Now consider the case of the eternal optimist. It is the one who, by nature, will tend to see the glass much fuller than it appears. His excessively positive outlook can be a way of maintaining control over the situation. He is aware that he is not in his moments of glory, but does he understand the importance of changing his method? In this type of situation, you will be able to put on your supervisor’s hat, in order to supervise the process. You will be required to very clearly identify the strengths and areas for improvement, identifying the consequences of the latter (financial loss, loss of confidence, etc.). Here, it is better to act sooner rather than later, while approaching the matter from a factual angle, otherwise your judgment will be perceived as alarmist. You reiterate the objectives and expectations, making yourself available as support. The risk here will be to focus too much on the result, at the expense of the employee’s mental load.

The defensive

Next, let’s take the example of the employee who has an explanation for everything. The latter will tend to want to justify himself in all circumstances, because constructive feedback triggers a defensive reaction on his part. In this context, perhaps your expert hat would be a good choice. Get the employee to see the situation from a greater perspective, instead of focusing on the details, where they will tend to find excuses. It may be interesting to explain to him the points of improvement that he would benefit from working on, by offering him solutions and explaining the positive impacts of these, while relying on your expertise. And all this, with kindness! The risk here could be that the employee gets used to you providing the solutions for them.

As you have understood, the change in posture will take place depending on the person we have in front of us, or even the context. The scenarios seen above are exhaustive and you may find yourself using these different postures in other contexts. The key skill here will beemotional intelligence. Indeed, developing the latter will allow you to better anticipate certain situations and identify the strategy to adopt!

Source :

Training: The coaching posture of Catherine Bédard, p. 4 of the PP


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