When I started my HR career in the mid-90’s, the phrase “HR has to claim a seat at the table.” was just taking hold. At that time, many companies still used the term “Personnel” but the professionals in that field were evolving and wanted to be a part of the more strategic business discussion rather than simply processing performance improvement plans. Over the years, “Human Resources” was born. Yet, even when I left the profession 10 years later in 2006, I still heard that phrase “HR has to claim a seat at the table.” Man, was I tired of hearing that! Why were the professionals still having to say it? I believe it’s in large part because they didn’t know how to ask (or tell) others what their full value was. It wasn’t about the what (the seat), it was about the why (an investment).

Let me explain by using myself as an example: I teach soul-powered entrepreneurs how to develop themselves personally and grow their businesses. I’m not a “business coach” per se, I’m not a typical “marketing consultant” either. I’m more of a personal/business development skills instructor, who happens to create the space to support the human being behind the business evolve along the way (some call that life coaching). I don’t get commission on their business growth and I can’t guarantee any specific result.

How in the world, then, do I “claim my value?”

My clients don’t “get” something in exchange for the money they pay me.

They are “contributed to” by the essence of my being that is acting on their behalf:

  • Whether it is a key insight into a belief system that has been sabotaging them….
  • Or a business lead that magically came into my purvue on their behalf….
  • Or meme or an article I’m shown to send them that shifts their knowledge or perspective….
  • Or a teaching of a business development skill that they didn’t have before….
  • Or a serendipitous connection I found that created a conversation that helped them get clear about something….

The investment they make to hire me isn’t buying any one thing. It isn’t a transactional exchange of money (or even of energy) for my time. It isn’t reciprocal at all.

When you pay for college, what do you “get” in return? Nothing tangible (unless you count the little piece of paper you get). Nothing reciprocal. You leave college with more knowledge, more experiences, more insight, a broader perspective, more relationships, greater opportunities, and so on.

You’ve increased your personal/professional value and it can NEVER be taken away from you.

My clients’ investment isn’t one in ME – it’s an investment in THEM. My working with them is a contribution to their BEINGness that raises their own VALUE and their VIBRATION – that they will have and use forever and and ever – which then fuels them to bring more of their Self through their sacred work and to the world. You really can’t put a price tag on that.

The onus is on ME to help them (and prospective clients) see my full value: the greater contribution than just an increase in revenue, client growth, or profit margin.

The KEY to making that happen ISN’T “claiming” anything: it’s asking questions instead.

You see, the reason I feel that HR has had to keep claiming their seat is that they didn’t have the skills to EVOKE from their company managers and leaders what THEY saw as the benefit of HR being at the table.

Sincere curiosity around what they want and need – as well as what results they’ve seen from HR’s involvement – is what “makes” the company realize and recognize the full value of HR because it prompts them to think, find evidence, and articulate it back.

Even if you’re not in HR or aren’t a business owner, you can use questioning techniques for the same end: helping an interviewer recognize something key in your experience or showing your manager your impact on a project.


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Christine Clifton is the author of “You don’t have to shout to Stand Out” and teaches soul-powered entrepreneurs how to keep their inner fire burning so they don’t burn out. By building a fun, co-creative relationship with their business, they better align their practical DOING with their natural BEING and gain focus and energy. They have fun with their work again, feel better than they have in a long time, and see more of the right leads and opportunities come their way….. and they Thrive!