“She walked over to me with a friend and said, ‘This is the guy I’ve been telling you about. He’s the HR doctor.’”
A conversation with Ed Krow
Ed smiles as he says it, “So she thinks of me as the HR doctor… that’s pretty cool.”
His client was talking specifically about Ed’s ability to quickly diagnose and treat the ailments in her workplace. “HR doctor” captures Ed’s work and personality on many levels.
“When you go to your doctor with an ailment, the doctor should be patient enough to listen, take a look at the symptoms, and then use their expertise to come up with a treatment plan. Your doctor should figure out where symptoms are coming from and determine the best course of action. Yesterday I was with a prospect, two women co-chairs of a not-for-profit board, and one said ‘Ed, it’s clear you’re the guy we need because you listened to what we had to say and didn’t jump to conclusions.’ It made me smile because that’s my job! I don’t just provide solutions, I listen and craft a game plan that fits your situation.”
“I heard a quote the other day that really resonated with me,” notes Ed: “‘Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.’”
“Just because I’m going to be nice to you – because that’s the way I think people should be treated -doesn’t mean I won’t tell you the truth, even when it’s not what you want to hear.”
Kindness with strength.
That duality in Ed points to another unusual feature in his background.
Approachability with authority.
“Before I joined the HR team at UPS, I was actually a driver. So literally from one day to the next I traded the brown uniform for a tie. There was another driver, a colleague I was friends with, and when I put on the tie, he stopped talking to me completely.
“Finally I asked him, ‘What’s the problem! Why won’t you talk to me?’ and he snapped back, ‘You have to put me on the clock to talk to you!’ In his eyes, management was the enemy of workers. That was a huge lesson to me: that you can’t control other people. It also showed me the minefields you have to negotiate in the culture of an organization.”
Ed took this lesson on organizational culture with him and now applies it throughout his work. “You can get a lot done just by being on the shop floor, getting to know people, walking around. I’ve been there at 3 AM, just drinking my coffee, shooting the bull. That’s how you really see what’s going on.”
Ed does not stop there. “I was talking to a potential client and suggested that we take a walk on the shop floor. He answered, ‘Sure, I do it all the time myself.’
“When we were out there, though, I could tell he never goes out there, just from the stunned and worried looks on people’s faces. I told him, ‘Look, if you’re not going to be straight with me, we can’t work together.’”
Here you see Ed’s approachability with authority. He can relate to the people on the floor and get their truth. And he tells that truth to management, so together they can make things better.
“As an Eagle Scout, I learned to leave things better than I found them, and that still drives me today.”
Leaving things better than he found them – that applies to people as well as organizations.
“At one client, I brought in a new HR director and in the beginning she relied on me pretty heavily to learn how to use the tools I put into place. I also helped her learn how to work with an all-male group of supervisors who were much older than she.”
“It’s fun when you develop somebody and see what they’ve been able to become.”
It’s the mixture of the personal and strategic that attracted Ed to human resources in the first place.
That points to the final piece that makes Ed so effective as the HR doctor.
“I’m known for covering all the bases. My clients are used to hearing me ask, ‘Just to make sure, have you considered this angle?’
“It’s my way of being conscious of alternatives without being judgmental.”
Kindness with strength. Approachability with authority. And the security of knowing that all your bases are covered. That is Ed’s formula for leaving each client better than he found them.
Ed holds both B.Sc. and M.S. degrees, and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), a Compensation Professional (CCP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). Ed is also a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association.
When he’s not working with clients, Ed can be found teaching at Millersville University or speaking at conferences on topics ranging from leadership to HR strategy. In his free time, Ed enjoys family time, travel, golf, the outdoors and Notre Dame and Baltimore Ravens football.