What Does it Take to be a Human Resources Business Partner?

by Employers Council HR

Member Matters,  Training and Development

More and more HR professionals wish to become strategic business partners. In order to make the leap, HR professionals must understand the organization’s strategy, identify its talent-management implications, and then pursue HR strategies that add value through people and produce measurable results. Here are some ways to develop as an HR business partner:

Acquire Business Acumen:

  • Learn the language of business: Learn how the organization makes
    money, what it takes to make it, and how those activities are reflected in
    financial reports and on balance sheets, income statements and elsewhere.
    If this sounds like a foreign language, seek out books, reference materials,
    and/or a mentor (such as the CFO or Controller) to help you build expertise
    on your organization’s financials.
  • Understand the key performance metrics that drive your organization: Each organizational function contributes to the organization’s overall success. Understand the key metrics that each functional area uses to measure its success. For example, Operations may measure productivity and cost while Customer Service may measure customer satisfaction and retention. HR initiatives need to help every function reach its goals through people and by creating value for the organization. An HR initiative, for instance, may analyze the cost of turnover and what is driving it or the impact of training on productivity.

Approach HR with a Strategic Mindset:

  • Align HR goals with the goals of the organization: Identify your company’s top priorities and concerns.
    Based on an understanding of the business, set HR goals and outcomes that positively impact what is most
    important to the organization.
  • Build a solid business case: Provide senior management with HR-focused solutions tied to key data
    and analysis. A solid business case helps transform the perception of HR as tactical and process-focused
    to strategic and business-focused.

Build Positive Relationships with Key Stakeholders

  • Foster trust: Before HR can influence and collaborate effectively within the organization, it needs to be
    seen as credible and trustworthy. Deliver on your promises and give others the benefit of the doubt. Develop
    self-awareness, avoid defensiveness, and show positive intent by investing in relationships with others.
  • Walk in their shoes: Help your organization meet its goals in a way that balances with managing risk and legal compliance. Avoid being seen as “law enforcement,” using HR jargon, or saying “no you can’t” when talking to management. These actions reinforce the perception that HR lives in a bubble and doesn’t understand the real business challenges facing the organization. Instead, be solutions-oriented, welcome management’s questions and concerns, and listen from a place of understanding and balance.

MSEC offers an HR Business Partner Program, a developmental applied-learning curriculum to help HR professionals
develop as HR business partners. To request information, please contact HRBP@msec.org.

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Employers Council HR