Not Sure What HR / L&D Topic to Research? Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I am seeking your guidance. I am studying for a BA in human resource management and will be completing my degree program within the next six months. I must submit a final research paper.

I need to find a topic and put a plan together fast, but I am struggling. Will you assist me in finding the perfect topic that will make me successful?



Dear Unsure,

I appreciate the question. I am a little at sea as to how to answer it, though. My areas of expertise are coaching in organizations (helping leaders use coaching skills, scaling coaching, and moving an organization toward a coaching culture) and the neuroscience of leadership. I am not an expert in HR, although I do work with many human resource, organizational development, and learning and development professionals.

That being said, I urge you to choose a topic that is of great interest to you. Ask yourself: What has captured my imagination in my studies?

I suggest you speak to a couple of HR professionals to understand what the frustrations are in their jobs. What problems do they face that you might research? I Googled “top challenges HR managers face” and all kinds of interesting things came up. Here is a link to a report by Deloitte on trends in workforce management that may spark an idea for you.

I can tell you that in my work coaching leaders, the challenges that seem to come up most often these days are:

  • Attracting the best talent
  • Interviewing to assess the best culture and job fit
  • Retaining the best employees
  • Helping people get clear and stay clear about their goals and objectives
  • Optimizing a team and getting people to work well together to accomplish results
  • Helping people manage the sheer volume of change
  • Helping people manage the stress of political mayhem, climate challenges, and the pandemic
  • Encouraging people to take care of themselves while still getting the job done
  • Managing conflict—both for themselves and among their team members

I hope this gets you started. I hope one of these areas will strike a chord with you.

Good luck!

Love, Madeleine

About Madeleine

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response soon. Please be advised that although she will do her best, Madeleine cannot respond to each letter personally. Letters will be edited for clarity and length.

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