I am going to start off by saying something controversial: I hate the term HR Business Partner, or HRBP for short. Why do I detest something so common and innocuous? Because of what it implies.
It implies that HR professionals without the “HRBP” title are not “business partners”. It also implies that we have to designate a specific team member as the person who is the liaison for the business. Do we have Finance Business Partners or Sales Business Partners? Only if they sit in HR, right?
See to me, the whole narrative of the back office, “business partner” HR function is antiquated. Sure, there are functions in HR that provide less direct business value than others. But Compensation and Benefits? Talent Acquisition? Those are not back office functions. Ask any company that fails in that area how it impacts the bottom line.
I would make the case that in our ever-evolving business world, the difference between being in the red and being in the black as a company comes down to how organizations attract, develop, retain, and manage their employee base. That is HR, and more importantly, it’s strategic HR, which is so much more than just a “business partner”.
In the past, risk aversion was a key focus for HR, and the function was seen as a “support” team for the core business. That has to change. By maintaining a back office approach, not only will HR miss out on its chance to have a seat at the table, they won’t even know that dinner is being served until after the fact.
So how—as strategic HR professionals—can we spark a paradigm shift? How can we demonstrate to key decision makers the importance of empowering HR with a seat at the decision-making table?
Rather than telling them (or asking them, and perpetuating the generalization about HR’s inability to execute), let’s show them! Below I have some pointers that can be integrated into your daily approach right away.
Focus on Results First
All deliverables should be clear and tied to results. So many times when given deliverables, HR professionals talk in terms of process and steps—whereas in Sales or Operations, they typically talk in terms of end results and execution. This results-focused delivery mindset is one everyone in a company should espouse, but especially HR.
Be Data Driven
Simply put, what gets measured gets done. Use data to not only set goals, but also to quantify your successes to your superiors, peers, and team.
Work Hard, Always
HR professionals shouldn’t be the last ones in and the first ones out. Quite the opposite. If you don’t take your work seriously, how can you expect anyone else to?
Know Your Business
Revenue, EBITDA, margins—these are all figures you should not only be familiar with when it comes to your own company, but also your competition and regional market. Understanding changing consumer trends and fluctuating economic conditions on a monthly basis (at a minimum) is imperative.
Recognize Your Value
Are you in Compensation and Benefits? Seems pretty important to me. Without your work, design, and analysis, retention of the best talent would be next to impossible. Are you in Organizational Development? You empower the company to grow through the growth of its talent. Talent Acquisition? What’s more important than the people you help bring into the organization? Nothing, if you ask me.
Be passionate about what you do and realize it’s not just blocking and tackling. No one will understand how strategic HR really is if you don’t.
Be an Advocate for Your Function within HR
Don’t let your function be minimized. Push back when appropriate. Stand up for people and processes when you know it’s important.
Don’t Be Afraid to Enlist Help
If you are in an environment where you feel supported, valued, and that your work is recognized, then treasure that like its gold. But if you feel like you’re in over your head—for example, your company culture is misaligned with its values, talent development is just not a priority, or there’s endless turnover—don’t be afraid to engage an external talent acquisition expert, like MSH, to help drive transformation within your organization.
If you are an HR professional that wants to be a contributor at the decision-making table, you must prove that your voice and expertise will bring value to the conversation. And with the right mindset and tools at hand, you can do just that.
HR has the power to have a true impact on business results. Now it’s time to ignite it.
MSH is an industry-leading talent solutions firm, providing strategic talent acquisition and consulting services to organizations around the world. Established in 2011, MSH aligns people, processes, and technology with overall business objectives.