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What is a truly commercial HR Business Partner?

Source | LinkedIn : By Julie Kirk

In exploring the local market recently, it’s evident the job titles of HR professionals are broad and at times, even misleading. For example, you may expect a Senior HR Business Partner (HRBP) role would be more strategic and outcomes focused and yet, the role profile I read was very transactional and ‘business as usual’ orientated. It seems the market place may be blurring language and enhancing functional titles rather than look at the value added to a business by the role.

And this got me thinking, what really defines a truly commercial HR Business Partner? And what is the differentiation for an organisation in being able to better identify the commercial attributes of an effective HRBP?

I share some initial thoughts below and look forward to you adding your views and comments from your experiences.

  1. The truly commercial HR business partner is one who is confident, passionate and has earned the respect as a valued voice through the results and counsel they deliver. They influence the business to create the optimal environment for high performance to thrive and tend to have a wide spread of knowledge generally. Linked to being commercially astute, they understand the customer needs and choose to spend their time on activity that moves the business forward.
  2. Being commercial requires a HR person to understand the business strategy in people terms and then determine how they can help deliver that strategy through targeted interventions, processes, policies, services and tools. And there is a growing trend towards new titles in HR that reflect the outcome of the role rather than its function, for example, Director of Hiring the Best rather than Director of Recruitment. This is unlocking possible constraints of a standard structure and empowers growth thinking to select solutions that make a difference to the business and move forward from the status quo.
  3. Commercial HRBPs coherently raise their awareness on how they spend their time and ensure their focus is on activity that leads to commercial benefits. They are insight led utilising data to reinforce decision making and drive interventions that increase profit or margin, improve time to hire, and/or directly link back to the overall business strategy goals.

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