By Shelly Azen
Let’s talk about the human resources business partner – sometimes called an HRBP or an HR manager. To me, this role is the most critical one on the human resources (HR) operations team because of its liaison responsibilities between HR and the business. The HRBP is the one who can coach, advise, counsel, support, brainstorm, and implement processes with the business operations team leader.
An HRBP is a human resources professional who helps align an organization’s people strategy with their business strategy. They help senior leaders envision, develop, and execute an HR strategy that supports growth, performance, and future objectives. Some core tasks include the following:
If the HRBP does not know the language of the business, it diminishes their ability to be effective.
Here is a test I use when meeting and assessing new teams. I often start with a very open-ended question: “Tell me, what you do here?”
You may find that some HR professionals will tell you about their day-to-day activities: “I work on performance documents. I sometimes help to recruit key positions. I facilitate training, conduct investigations,” and so on.
The right kind of HRBP will say something like, “We are in the business of ___. We serve customers who are ___, and I help to support that by ___.”
If an organization is in health care, for example, an HRBP might answer that question with something such as, “We are in the business of caring for the entire individual, from birth to death, with basic health care such as primary care and specialty providers. We serve 100,000 patients in the surrounding communities and have been doing so for 43 years. I help support our mission by ensuring we hire, onboard, train, and develop people who have a real passion for taking care of others.”
Create a learning plan for the HRBP over a short period of time – perhaps two or three months – and then pressure test their knowledge. Here are a few suggestions:
Operating through a business lens gives the HRBP credibility. Also, without question, it makes them more impactful in coaching, advising, counseling, recruiting, problem solving, and partnering with an operations leader.
Shelly Azen is owner of unHR, a boutique HR consulting and search firm based in Bryn Mawr, Pa. She can be reached at email@example.com. She is a presenter at PICPA’s 2023 CFOs & Controllers Conference, which will be held March 16 and March 23. Check out the conference details and sign up today.
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