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Say hello to the HR business partner: optimising HR's influence and delivery

Many organisations have restructured their HR functions, by establishing shared services, centres of expertise or creating HR business partners. An HR business partner helps senior business leaders implement the people and organisation aspects of their business strategy. They draw on their expert HR knowledge to provide insight into strategy development and implementation, and guidance on a range of people and organisational issues.

While the concept of the HR business partner is sound, there are two key challenges that need to be understood when considering introducing the roles: multiple interpretations of what constitutes the HR business partner role; and a lack of uniform specification of the person needed to fulfil the role.

What does an HR business partner do?

Companies have to tailor their specifications to ensure the HR business partner works in a business context, as there can sometimes be a mismatch in expectations. In some cases, it can be difficult for an HR business partner to gain influence as business leaders can be unaware of the full value an HR business partner can generate; HR professionals can be transferred into the new business partner role with limited preparation, preventing them from establishing immediate credibility.

Within the HR function itself, there may also be a mismatch between HR business partners and those working in Shared Services and Centres of Expertise. These challenges can mean that the full potential of the HR business partner role is not realised.

What skills does the HR business partner need?

When introducing HR business partners, organisations must consider the need for:

  1. business credibility - demonstrating strong commercial awareness and deep insight into the company’s operation

  2. and being a capable partner - able to demonstrate the right range of interpersonal skills and styles to build peer-to-peer relationships and influence profitable outcomes.

These two things are essential to ensure that the HR business partner becomes a capable member of the senior leadership team.

It is essential for organisations to consider these aspects of the role to ensure that the HR business partner become a capable member of the senior leadership team, able to drive business growth through effective strategic change.

To find more about HR business partners, and how they can help get the best from your HR team please contact us now.

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