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5 Future Prospects For The HR Business Partner Model

Source | LinkedIn : By Dave Ulrich

The business partner model has been instrumental for creating value for many staff functions, including HR. In another article, we summarized some of the lessons learned; in this article, we offer future perspectives on where the ideas may evolve.

As we look forward, there are many excellent thinkers who continue to examine how HR professionals can deliver value to the business. With their input, the business partner model continues to evolve. Many of the critics of the model look at today’s problems through yesterday’s solutions and wonder why they don’t get solved. This is like trying to run today’s software on yesterday’s computers. Of course, it won’t work. The HR business partner model in the 1990’s has changed in recent years to adapt to today’s business challenges. We are comfortable projecting five trends that will continue to evolve the HR field and how it delivers value to business.

First, HR will deliver value to multiple stakeholders.

Over the last thirty years, we have both anecdotally and empirically seen steady progress in the HR field as it has moved toward greater strategic understanding and relevance. We anticipate that this progress with continue.  HR professionals will continue to deliver value inside an organization by helping employees find meaning and well-being from work (sometimes called employee experience or re-humanizing HR) and organization results by being a central component of strategy formulation and implementation. HR insights make the right strategy happen.

But, moving beyond an internal focus, our recent research shows that when HR departments and professionals focus on external as well as internal stakeholders, business performance improves. We call this focusing HR from the outside/in, not looking at strategy as a mirror which reflects HR practices, but as a window to the outside world. Customer focused HR shifts from focusing on being the employer of choice, to becoming the employer of choice of employees our customers would choose.  Likewise, customers can participate in the design, deliver, and participation in training, 360’s can become 720’s, standards can be set with customer involvement. Culture can be defined less as internal patterns of work (values, beliefs, behaviors, and norms) and more as an identity of the firm in the mind of key customers made real to employees.

Companies that are able to create credible leadership capital are more likely to enjoy price earning ratios above that of their competitors.

Investor focused HR accesses the requirements of capital markets. The recent burgeoning research in finance and economics on “intangible assets” is emphasizing the increasing importance of human capital assets and HR practices that create and sustain those assets. Empirical evidence has clearly shown the investment community is learning to account for practices such as succession planning, leadership development, setting and meeting performance targets, corporate culture, and executive compensation as considerations in buy or sell decisions. Companies that are able to create credible leadership capital are more likely to enjoy price earning ratios above that of their competitors. As business partners, effective HR professionals play a central role in defining, creating, and sustain leadership capital that is valued by investors.

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