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9 guiding principles for HR business partners

David Bator
by David Bator on March 23, 2017

MaryAnn Dunlop at the March #TorontoHR Meetup | TemboStatusPeople and talent issues are ever changing and arguably the most important issues in organizational leadership today. In the last 10 years we’ve seen a shift in the nature of knowledge work, the challenges in attracting and retaining talent and the role of HR within the social enterprise. HR has moved from a largely tactical, administrative function - managing time, compliance and risk - to a more strategic role focused on creating value for the business.

In the latest installment of the #TorontoHR series we welcomed Mary Ann Dunlop to lead a standing-room-only crowd at Breather through an interactive morning of mentorship. Together, we deconstructed talent management to create strategies that aligns with business objectives, showed how HR can work in partnership with CEOs and went inside the corner office to share real world examples of how decisions are made with insight on how to win mindshare & budget for your programs.

Leveraging the collective wisdom of the #TorontoHR community, we established some common principles for how HR can effectively partner with the business.

  1. Understand the business as well as the senior management team. This means knowing the business in depth – not just the figures. You need to understand who makes the money and how. What are the business goals? And what levers need to be pulled to help the organisation achieve them? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the business compared to the competition? Most importantly, you need to know how the dynamics of the business work, and how a change in one area will affect other areas.

  2. Be an expert in your field. A good HR business partner knows their stuff – not just the law and compensation, but how change happens and how to engage people. Most importantly, they can determine how an intervention will work in that business. This is a dynamic process and the most successful HR business partners keep themselves up to date and renew their skills.

  3. Be flexible and open to change. If you are going to persuade others to take on new ideas and ways of doing things, you need to be flexible too.

  4. Step back and take an objective view. Be involved with the business, but never lose the ability to view it objectively. This will enable you to challenge ideas and take a longer-term view.

  5. Communicate ideas clearly. It is no use having great ideas if you can’t sell them.

  6. Take charge and challenge decisions. A big part of the job is thinking up innovative ways of doing things and having the guts to question traditional systems.

  7. Believe in the impact of HR on the business, along with your people and influencing skills. If a business is going to reach its targets, everyone in that business needs to believe they can make a difference

  8. You need to believe in yourself and the impact you can have.

  9. Measure HR initiatives using the results in the business. HR has traditionally measured itself by the activity it manages – for example, the number of training courses run, and the reduction in the pay bill. HR business partners need to use business measures – for example, what was the change in the efficiency of the people who attended the training, and how did this affect the bottom line?

You can check out MA’s slides here.

The next #TorontoHR meetup will be on Wednesday, April 26th focused on growing pains. Stay tuned for more details!

The #TorontoHR Community working through exercises | TemboStatus

David Bator
Written by David Bator

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