Let’s talk about Human Resources Business Partner — I often find this term used differently in organizations (HRBP, HR Manager, Human Resources Leader, Business Advisor, etc.), but to me, this role is the most critical on the HR Operations team. S/he is the liaison between HR and the business – the one who can coach, advise, counsel, support, brainstorm, trouble-shoot, etc. – with the leader of the business operations team.
Here’s the key for me: If the HRBP does not know the language of the business, it diminishes their ability to be effective. If you follow my blogs, my perspective on the value HR brings through business knowledge is not new to you.
Here is a litmus test I use all the time when meeting and assessing new teams. I often start with a very open-ended question, which is “Tell me what you do here”. You may find that most HRBPs 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, etc.” I think really good HRBPs will say something like “We are in the business of ________. We target customers who are _______ and I help to support that by __________.“
For example, if your organization is in healthcare, 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 healthcare such as PCP 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.”
WOW! Now that is an engaged and business savvy HRBP in my opinion. Of course, there needs to be more depth than that elevator pitch, but if my conversations start off that way, I am already optimistic.
You may be asking yourself what do you do to help your HRBP become more business savvy? Create a learning plan for the BP over a short period of time, perhaps two or three months, and then pressure test their knowledge.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
- Make sure s/he can read and speak to the P&L. How do the business units s/he support contribute to the P&L exactly? What factors in the marketplace impact that? To accomplish this, have the BP train with the Ops leader of the business unit and the CFO.
- How do sales impact the business unit? Do different types of sales impact the business in different ways? To accomplish this, have the BP train with the Ops leader and someone from the Sales department.
- What types of issues does the customer service team deal with? How often do these arise? What can be done on the front end to prevent these issues from happening? To accomplish this, have the BP shadow the customer service leader and/or sit in the call center for a few days.
Operating through a business lens gives the BP credibility, but also, without question if applied, makes them exponentially more impactful in coaching, advising, counseling, recruiting, problem solving, and partnering with an operations leader.
If you would like someone to help you assess your Business Partner team members, call unHR today!