It’s Time for HR to be a True Business Partner

Posted by on April 22, 2016
It’s Time for HR to be a True Business Partner

Find Your HR Leadership Impact Zone

When I started in HR I struggled and worked to learn the right things to do for our company and our employees. As my career grew I continued to learn and adjust to evolving organizational needs and new methods to get the HR job done! It’s not easy being a senior human resources leader. In today’s global economy and with technology introducing new opportunities and challenges almost daily, the credibility of the function has suffered, and too often our operations colleagues find HR lacks relevancy. HR leadership is accused of not being attuned to the intricacies of business and the needs and expectations of organizational leaders. What is an HR business partner?

HR Business Partner:

responsible for aligning business objectives with employees
and management 
in designated business units

Human Resources professionals can become HR business partners by understanding the business needs of the organization and the people needs of the workforce, and become the change agent to align and communicate organizational business needs and people needs toward a common goal.

In my consulting practice, I frequently observe organizations that strategically and willingly welcome HR as a true business partner. In my work with smaller organizations and nonprofits, I too often see HR in its traditional role as guardian of policies and procedures, either by choice or designation.  It’s time for HR professionals to recalibrate, re-engage and re-motivate ourselves to be a true business partner.  

5 Core Steps for HR Pros to Find Your HR Impact Zone!

1.  Study, Listen and Understand
To be taken seriously as a business partner, HR professionals must understand the organization’s core business functions, customers and financials, in addition to managing the workforce and their needs. Human Resources leaders must be business literate, and be able to communicate in the industry jargon.

2.  Integrity and Trust Matter
HR leaders are only as good as their ethics. If employees don’t trust the HR team, your colleagues don’t consult HR or the C-Suite does not include HR in key decision making, you must identify the source of the conflict or mistrust and conscientiously work to regain the trust and respect of the organizations’ workforce and leadership.

3.  Be Courageous, but Maintain Balance
Strength in your convictions and knowledge of laws and policies is a must, but HR must be willing to listen and adapt to other viewpoints and methods.

4.  Communicate Until It Hurts!
HR should be a vocal supporter of the workforce and the business needs of the organization. Effective communication requires three things:

  1. Listening to Others
  2. Demonstrating You Hear Others’ Opinions
  3. Speak Regularly and Often with Clarity and Understanding to Clients, Colleagues and Leadership

I’ve long been an advocate of MBWA: Management By Walking Around. You don’t gain the trust of the organization from behind closed doors.

5.  Find Your Impact Zone
Human Resources professionals have convictions, skills and strengths as well as weaknesses and, just like any other employee and leader. HR leaders have a unique opportunity to self-assess their own skills and identify t opportunities for self-improvement as well as within their own function, and across the organization.  

I encourage all HR leaders to
Find Your HR Impact Zone: The Place Where You Can Make and Sustain an Impact

Let’s be clear: you can not simply declare yourself a business partner and think it will happen. You have to earn your place in the business. You must demonstrate your understanding of the business, the numbers, the strategy. Then you must develop your HR strategy to reinforce and support the overall business strategy. An understanding of the competition is critical: a skilled workforce is a limited commodity that is in high demand. Your business’s competition is vying for the same talent and you must know how to differentiate your company because that is exactly what the best talent is doing each day.

The days are gone where HR is the keeper of the gate to bureaucratic policy and procedures. Policy and procedures are important to run an organized and efficient workplace, but the organization has to breathe and be flexible to meet the rapidly changing dynamics of the workforce and business environment today.

I’m an HR consultant, author, speaker and executive coach. I can help you Find Your Impact Zone: The Place Where You Make a Difference.

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