The HR Business Partner is a job for experienced pros with education in HR and business…you can find all the details on that with easy internet search,
You don’t need me to tell you about the education and work experience required for this kind of role, instead I want to talk about the personal qualities that are necessary to be successful in a business partner role.
To support any business you have to understand it. Not at a level where you could do the day-to-day work but at a level where you understand how people and teams interact to hit goals, plans, and targets.
Curiosity is important because it causes you to ask the questions that will help you understand how that team connects with the overall organization and customers.
To do that you should spend time meeting with the people doing the work, observe, ask questions and learn. If you support an office-based business, set up your office or desk near the team, go to team meetings, and ask questions. If the team is in the field, spend time out on the road or work a trade/customer show, in short, spend time where the employees of your company spend time.
This is not a one-and-done exercise, you should regularly attend business line staff meetings, meet with business line leaders and be able to understand and articulate the organization’s short and long term plans.
This is where your understanding of the business and your HR knowledge come into play. Companies are faced with problems in the people space that your skillset can help resolve.
If the team/business unit is faced with a turnover problem look at the data- where is turnover highest? Where is it having the worst impact on the business? Is it centered around a specific team or department?
Your combination of skills – HR knowledge and experience – combined with your understanding of the business is a potent skillset you can deploy to help the business resolve problems, meet goals and prepare for the future.
Building relationships and being able to influence without direct authority is critical to being a strong, contributing HR Business Partner.
So, how do you build relationships with the business line?
1. Don’t Make People Feel Like Idiots – If you haven’t figured it out already, HR has a vocabulary all to its own. Don’t act like the people you work with are morons because they don’t know about employee experience. How you explain things (tone and demeanor) has as much impact as what you say.
2. Honesty– It’s okay to admit when you are not sure about a course of action, when this happens I admit I’m in unknown territory and brainstorm with my business line and HR peers to figure out a solution. Doing this builds a better team dynamic and buy-in to the solution because “we” came up with the solution, not “HR.”
3. Meet regularly– not just when there is a problem. Have an agenda for the meeting but leave plenty of time for open discussion about the business, people, etc;
You can have all three of these qualities and still struggle as a business partner for the simple reason that you haven’t built the right reputation within your organization. That foundation of your reputation is credibility. So, how do you ensure you build credibility? Act with integrity? Act with ethics?
Yes, all of that and much more which I will get into in my next post on building credibility as an HR professional. Look for that the week of November 3rd!