Redefining the role of a HR Business Partner

It’s been just over 2 months since I “retired” from the corporate world to embark on my new career journey with People Mentality Inc. One common question that has popped up rather frequently was, “What have you been busy with since you started your business?”

My answer to that, “Business Partnerships!” What I was referring to was the building of my HR Avengers ecosystem that comprises of HR Practitioners, HR Tech companies as well as Trainers/Facilitators. In my opinion, these are the 3 groups that will form the holy trinity in the HR space to deliver a holistic solution to serve the various organizational needs.

In the midst of forging strategic partnerships, it gave me a whole new perspective of perhaps, what a HR Business Partner (HR) could do to redefine its positioning and deliver greater value to the internal stakeholders. Allow me to relate some of my experiences thus far to what I believe are alternative perspectives that a HRBP can consider moving forward.

Tell a compelling story to convey your vision

One area that I’m constantly working on and has been vital in attracting the right people to me thus far is storytelling. I cannot understate the importance of this piece because this is where people feel that they can relate to what I believe in and it’s what brings the things I am doing to life.

My passion, my vision, my values. These are things that mean nothing to others if I do not articulate it through storytelling. Often, we need to address the question of, “what’s in it for others?” That will give us a better clue of how we tell our own unique and authentic stories that others can relate to. That sticks and you can get the buy-in much faster than simply throwing data and facts. After all, facts tell but stories sell.

Approach things from a systems perspective

Due to the nature of HR’s work, it’s no wonder why HR often works more in a silo manner. Does it serve the needs of the stakeholders? Probably yes. But does it deliver true value? I think more could be done.

On this journey of building the mentioned HR Avengers, the systems thinking approach has taught me much. I learnt about the importance of seeing things as an ecosystem and how the various Avengers can come together to complement one another to create the desired synergy that not one of them can achieve alone. That’s the beauty of partnership. Think collaboration, think building communities, think creating an ecosystem. That’s how you deliver more with less. After all, there is only so much resources one can own and only that much time we have on hand to do the gazillion tasks we want to complete. As such, why not leverage on the power of an ecosystem?

Taking interest in the other party 

Being interesting can gather you some attention and exposure, that’s for sure. But being interested in the other party will take this thing to a whole new level altogether.

I’ve been creating content regular and through that, I was fortunate to be able to attract like-minded people to me. That’s the opening. What’s next is even more important. During my engagement with them, I was always interested to find out more about what they are doing, why are they moving in the given direction and what can I do to add value to them. That’s where people really appreciate me because I first seek to give, and thereafter hope to build a long-term relationship. Trust is key here, and being interested is one way to build that effectively.

Likewise, as HR professionals, being more interested in what your business does is essential. It’s not simply knowing what they do, but also appreciating the thought process behind it and identifying areas to add value. That way, you will be seen as a real partner that is interested, and not one that is just paid to deliver a support solution when required.

Think partnership, not vendorship 

When I engage in conversations with partners, regardless if they are established professionals or HR Tech startups, the mindset going into the meeting is about forging a partnership that puts both party on a level playing field. This means that I’m not engaging them as vendor where it’s purely transactional. Instead, I’m looking to explore what works for each of us and not considering who’s going take up more of the pie or who’s the leader and who’s the follower. The idea is to move from transactions to value creation through identification of opportunities with the partnership. Win-win situations are what you should actively seek out.

Closing thoughts

The role of HRBP can and should change over time in order to deliver greater value to the business. We need to learn how to collaborate rather than support. We need to see things in systems rather than in silo. We need to be interested and identify opportunities rather than simply being reactive to the needs of the business.

That way, we can then lift our heads high and tell the line managers proudly that we are truly called HR Business Partners.

Together we can create a better workplace for tomorrow!

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