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The Question I Hate - What Do You Do?

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

I was at a networking event and someone asked me, "What do you do?" I thought, "It's hard to explain." What would you call my job? A Corporate Grief Coach? This week I am working on my elevator pitch. (If, after reading this post, how would you describe what I do? I'm so curious. Please leave a comment.)

HI! I’m Kim Hamer

And I deal with death in the corporate world.

My expertise lies in supporting leaders navigating the challenges of managing a grieving team. I coach and train them to be both productive and empathetic while fostering resilience and connection within their team.

I love what I do because I often hear, “OMG, this is so helpful!”

Q: But doesn’t HR know what to do when an employee dies?

A: Yes, but mostly…no! As an HR practitioner, I know how good we can be in connecting employees to individual support programs like the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), but these systems don't help leaders in managing grieving teams. Grief has long-lasting effects, often leading to increased turnover, decreased productivity, and decreased trust and connection. Without proper guidance and through no fault of their own, leaders can harm an organization's revenue and, more importantly, the connection and mental health of themselves and their team.

Q: But what do you do exactly?

A: I provide coaching and training to leaders and HR teams. I've developed a unique framework that assists managers throughout the first few months of the grieving process, from day one to about six months.

Q: What does that look like?

Well, one example is communication. Most companies do not communicate with their employees often enough after death, leading to disengagement, a lack of trust, and employee stress. I work closely with HR and leaders to build a responsive communication strategy. For instance, it’s important that the organizations communicate at least once a week for the first four weeks. And it’s equally important that the tone of those messages changes.

Q: Why does this matter?

A: Research shows that the death of a team member is one of the most difficult challenges for a leader, ranking second only to dealing with mental illness. I believe it’s challenging because leaders don’t have guidance and wonder if they are doing the wrong or right thing. It becomes very stressful for them. And a stressed leader is not a good leader.

Q: Do you guide leaders and teams supporting a grieving team member? Say an employee who just lost a partner, child, etc.?

Yes! I get asked that question a lot because many leaders have that need. I can do help leaders manage the grief of a specific employee and the team. There's so much that a leader and a team can do that will actually help the employee work through their grief while at work.

Q: Why you?

I swear it’s been in my DNA since my husband died! (He died when he was 44.) I combine my personal experience with over 10 years of HR leadership and now offer guidance on balancing empathy and productivity. I've witnessed firsthand how unprepared and uncomfortable leaders are when facing grief, but I believe they have the capacity to lead their teams toward resilience and connection with a little help!

I'm also the author of "100 Acts of Love: A Girlfriend's Guide to Supporting Friends Through Cancer or Loss." This essential guide provides advice on how to show up, what to say, and simple ways to support someone going through the yucky parts of life. Check it out here and buy a copy of your team!

Q: Who should call you and when?

A: Typically, HR professionals reach out to me, but leaders have also called me. My framework is most effective immediately after an employee's death, for up to 90 days. However, if you anticipate the loss of an employee due to a disease like cancer or feel the need to offer more support even six months later, I can also assist you. Grief has a tail, and it's important to address it appropriately.

Q: How do I contact you?

DM me or fill out the contact form on my website!

Q. Is there anything else?

Yes! There is. When my husband was sick and after he died, people showed up to help us in small but powerful ways. What they did mattered. So I wanted to remind you of this simple fact. What you do matters, even if you don’t know

what you're doing matters because … YOU matter!

Why hello! Did you know that I'm a speaker? My talks help teams connect through empathy and help cultivate high-performing, resilient teams, whether they are in crisis or not. Click to connect here or here to watch my speaker's reel. Your team will be grateful that you hired me! I promise!

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