How Executive Coaching Can Give You an Edge in HR

As HR leaders, we play a big role in making sure our team has support for ongoing learning, development and HR certification and recertification. We have budget line items for professional development, but also as HR leaders, our own learning plans often fall by the wayside. I like to use the “put your own oxygen mask on” analogy here: You have to be able to make time for your own learning and development so you have the most up-to-date information on trends and technology in our industry in order to steer your team toward improving their own skills. 

In 2018, I learned what it really felt like to hit a wall. I wanted to do everything, from working with HR leaders, talking to experts about trends and forecasting and the latest tech, from nailing a solution for a client, from staying up into the wee hours just to get to inbox “close enough to” zero, working on my own website…the list was endless. But I didn’t feel like I was growing, so I had to put my own mask on.

How Executive Coaching Can Give You an Edge in HR

I made a conscious choice to fully devote time to my own personal development and growth. I attended seminars, workshops, hired an executive coach, took hours of classes and courses, and spent all my free time reading books. This was hard because I was programmed to believe that if I wasn’t working 60-plus hours a week I wouldn’t be successful in my job, life, and career. I was wrong. The real value in my role as an HR consultant and expert was my knowledge, resources, and expertise and not the number of hours I was punching on the clock. 

As I was working on these things, I realized that so many HR leaders and practitioners were going through exactly what I experienced. We were missing opportunities for professional growth because we’re focused on what needs to get done today, or the needs of our company instead of our own development and we simply began to perceive professional growth as a luxury. Time itself is a luxury, but it passes whether we invest in ourselves or something else.

So how do we balance our own career development with our careers? I began working with an executive coach, an expert I hired to evaluate my life and advise me about what I could do better and what I should be doing less. I discovered that personal development is hard. It requires us to face some things about ourselves that we were avoiding or completely unaware of.  Having a professional whose job it is to give honest feedback (that can sometimes be hard to hear, but is necessary) can offer the insight we aren’t able to get on our own, as we’re in a “can’t see the forest for the trees” situation. 

What I learned from my experience is that professional development no longer follows a traditional model of seminars and panel sessions at conferences (while those are still quite relevant). At the leadership level, it’s become more and more common to seek out communities of like-minded HR leaders in which you can learn with peer support, along with one-on-one executive coaching. 

At the behest of my executive coach, I delegated, I found ways to do some things faster, I made time to make decisions about what I wanted my workday and my career to look like. It just so happened, around the same time I had this revelation, I was refining and adding to the extensive learning resources for Workology’s coursework for certification exam preparation and Ace the HR Exam. The natural next step was to focus on how to repeat the same level of success for HR leaders. 

Supercharge Your Personal and Professional Development in HR 

The future of learning is personal and customized, and executive coaching is a whole new personal development toolset. Adding an executive coaching program to UpSkill HR allows HR leaders to work with an expert who provides support, guidance and structure. It’s not a passive exercise, it isn’t sitting in a classroom or checking boxes for learning credits. It’s an investment of your time and accountability to work with an expert who can see in from the outside and work with you on how to best position yourself for career development. It’s needs-based, and you get out of executive coaching what you put into it. It’s a stepping stone to creating a growth mindset and gives you a map to work with for your own career development.Workology’s Upskill HR Membership gets you up to speed quickly on the latest advancements and trends while connecting you to other HR practitioners to elevate your learning and personal growth. Upskill HR offers HRCI and SHRM recertification credits so that you can maintain your HR designation. Along with live training and over 100 hours of on-demand audio and webcast courses, UpSkill HR also gives you access to our executive coaching program where you can work one-on-one with an experienced HR executive coach. Learn more at You can learn more about our new executive coaching program for human resources leaders. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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