HR has seen quite a change over the past few years, thanks to the introduction of new technologies and changing cultural attitudes. So it makes sense that the qualities of a successful HR business partner may have gone through a similar metamorphosis since Ulrich first introduced the concept.
These days more focus is needed on how they add value to a company. But you can’t just go from being traditional HR to HR business partner overnight, as a completely different set of attitudes, beliefs and skills are required to pull off this role.
So, what exactly makes a successful HR business partner (HRBP)?
- A well-rounded knowledge base. As the job description for a HR business manager has become all-encompassing, the knowledge base of a HRBP must be as well. Similar to a typical HR manager, a HRBP should have a sound understanding of the law so that the company they work for understands their legal obligations to their employees. Additionally, a basic understanding of psychology is also beneficial as the role now entails more interaction directly with employees.
- Business-minded. Originally the key characteristic of a HRBP is that they were someone who understood a company’s financial goals and worked to create solutions for HR-focused issues. This characteristic still remains highly important in a modern day HRBP, as without a clear business focus and understanding, a HRBP is not adding value.
- People skills. Now that this role involves more interaction with employees, it means that a HRBP needs engaging social skills. There’s no point in having great ideas if you can’t sell them and communicate them effectively. If the right person is in the role, then they will be able to enable employees to feel safe and motivated in their workplace and more open to change.
- Self-belief. If you don’t believe in the impact that HR can have on a business or your own influencing skills, then why should other people? If a business is going to reach its targets, everyone in that business needs to believe that they can make a difference. And those differences start with HR!
What about the top qualities of a good HR business partner?
- The ability to build good relationships
- Business acumen – they know the business well
- Good work ethic and attitude
- Experts in their field
- Challenge authority
A change in the role of HRBP
There has been a huge change in the role of HRBP’s today compared to the same role a few years ago. HR was previously considered an extra department that was nice to have a security blanket for everyone else. Now, HR is essential, and businesses are missing out if they do not adopt this new approach.
Convincing people that ‘HR business partner’ is more than just the latest buzzword means being able to demonstrate value in your work, and with the correct skills and attitudes, the benefits that you can bring to a business are truly limitless.
There is still plenty of debate around what makes a successful HR business partner
There is plenty of resource to help you form your own opinion:
- The CIPD have created a helpful fact sheet
- McKinsey stress the importance of talent strategy to business leaders. But they also voiced misgivings about HR’s ability to manage the talent process strategically and deliver maximum value to the business
- The Human Capital Institute promotes a Well-Rounded Knowledge Base and to be business minded
- There is debate about whether people ask too much of HR business partners
Carl Hinett is our Director & Executive Search Specialist. If you’ve got a hard-to-fill role and need some help, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
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