Recruiting HR Business Partners

Recruiting HR Business Partners
Published: 18 March 2020

When recruiting for HR Business Partners, and outlining the list of requirements, clients often ask for someone who is ’truly strategic.’  Although on the surface this is simple enough to understand, I thought it was worth exploring what this means for both candidates and recruiters.

The HR business partnering model was developed by Dave Ulrich, a professor from the University of Michigan. Today, this is the default approach to structuring an HR function, especially amongst larger organizations. The HR Business Partner’s role is to work closely with internal stakeholders to develop a people agenda that aligns with, and supports, the overall strategic objectives of the organization. Their individual goal, most importantly, is to become credible with everyone internally; someone whose opinions are asked for listened to and respected.

In essence, successful HR Business Partners need to truly understand all aspects of the business.  They must know their organization’s strategy and needs and be able to determine the skills and individuals that are required to deliver these strategies. HR Business Partners should be continuously thinking about talent and succession planning, and working regularly with senior management to ensure their organization has a pipeline of future leaders. They need to be managing their high potentials, as well as understanding and being able to find the new talent their organization needs. This all equates to being able to design an organization, for the long term, that will end up delivering results for the business.

To achieve the above, an effective HR Business Partner must be able to act as a change agent. As everyone knows, ’change is the only thing that is constant’. The HR Business Partner needs to anticipate, help to design, and then shape organizational change.

For people who feel that they are stuck in a more operational HR role and want to progress, as a starting point I would suggest you don’t wait for the business to come to you with simple questions around holidays or pay. Instead, be proactive and go to the business with new thoughts and perspectives. Although this can be a difficult step to take, if you are confident in both your understanding and ideas, you will earn that respect and in return, you will notice questions will start to be asked that are not simply around transactional HR policies.

When talking to an organization in need of a strategic HR Business Partner, candidates need to demonstrate that they have a trusted advisor relationship, are involved in all aspects of talent management and development, and understand the business they work for. The company is targeting someone who will work with them on solving problems and finding solutions, in order to drive the business forward.

For more information on anything discussed in this article or on HR leadership please contact Brian Watson, Partner in the Human Resources practice at Berwick Partners. Brian recruits HR positions at Berwick Partners, advising clients on the best talent in the market. 

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