Source | LinkedIn : By Dave Ulrich
We have observed, studied, and shaped the business partner model through rigorous empirical research and extensive work within specific organizations. We have done 7 rounds of the HR Competency study which study the competencies of HR professionals and the capabilities of HR departments. The most recent (2016) data collection was a collaboration with 22 HR associations around the world and 32,000 respondents (see forthcoming book Victory Through Organization). We have personally been involved in over 100 HR Transformations where we assess and advise how to be a better business partner. Based on these data, this essay reflects on what we have learned about the relevance of the business partner model.
Looking back: Seven lessons learned about business partner model
First, the business partner model is not unique to HR
All staff functions are trying to find ways to deliver more value to either top line growth and to bottom line profitability. Information systems, finance, legal, marketing, R&D, and HR are all under scrutiny and pressure to create greater value for their companies. This is especially true of transaction and administrative work that can be standardized, automated, re-engineered or outsourced.
Second, the intent of the business partner model is focus more on deliverables (what the business requires to win) than doables (what HR activities occur).
We have seen four phases of deliverables, moving from administrative efficiency to functional excellence to strategic HR to HR outside in (see book HR Outside In). Instead of measuring process (e.g. how many leaders received 40 hours of training), business partners move to measure results (e.g. the impact of the training on business performance), then move to how training build external value with customers and investors. For example, when HR builds better leadership capital, investors have more favorable images of the firm which shows up in market value (see Leadership Capital).
Third, being a business partner may be achieved in many HR job categories.
As business partners, corporate HR professionals define corporate wide initiatives, represent the company to external stakeholders, meet the unique demands of senior (and visible) leaders, leverage cross unit synergy, and govern the HR function. Embedded HR professionals work as HR generalists within organization units (business, function, or geographic). They collaborate with line leaders to help shape the business strategy, conduct organizational diagnoses to determine which capabilities are most critical, design and deliver HR practices to accomplish strategy. HR specialists work in centers of expertise where they provide insights on HR issues such as staffing, leadership development, rewards, communication, organization development, benefits, and so forth and they advise business leaders and HR professionals on how to turn insights into impact. HR professionals who work in service centers add value by building or managing technology-based e-HR systems, processing benefit claims and payrolls and answering employee queries. These individuals may work inside or outside the company.