Way to the boardroom for HR is via business partnering
If human resource professionals are to gain a position at the “top table”, contributing to the strategic direction of their businesses, they first need to build business credibility, gain influence and show that they are adding value. This is one of the conclusions resulting from the findings of recently-published toolkit, entitled HR Business Partnering, by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
The tookit is designed to help HR departments identify any skills gaps they may have and then develop their team’s capabilities, applying those skills to become genuine business partners.
Such moves, the report says, will help strip away the traditional business view of the HR profession in its “ivory tower”, replacing it with a much more “street wise” and strategically-aligned image.
What is business partnering?
The CIPD says the term “business partnering” involves the restructuring of HR into three specialist sub-functions originally based on the now well-known model developed by US academic David Ulrich:
The CIPD says: “Business partnering is a fundamental rethink of what HR is for and how it is measured. Today’s HR department aims to deliver a stronger, more competitive business, and is judged on its success in meeting business targets including reducing costs, improving customer service, quicker delivery and product innovation. Partnering makes HR accountable to the business, and expects HR to add real value. This is a shift away from traditional HR functions where purpose, priorities and successes were defined within HR.”
Why business partnering?
Organisations seem to be embracing business partnering in response to three main business pressures. These are:
Because none of the pressures driving partnering are likely to ease, it is expected that more and more organisations will adopt this approach. Smaller organisations are also affected, and they will have to respond with their own variations on the partner model.
Currently, however, according to Shirley Dalziel, co-author of the toolkit, many human resource professionals struggle to make the transition from traditional HR to a strategic business partner. For this reason, the toolkit seeks to help HR professionals identify skills gaps, develop team capabilities and then apply those skills to become genuine business partners.
About the Toolkit
But Dalziel warns HR professionals that having the skills is not enough – it is applying them in the chaotic and frantic world of work while still delivering the transactional duties of HR that is the real challenge.
The CIPD toolkit helps by providing development activities, practical implementation advice and case studies to show different examples of HR business partnering.
It explores the following areas:
Additional factsheet available
In addition to the toolkit, the CIPD provides summary information on the subject in the form of a factsheet on its web site at www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/corpstrtgy/general/hrbusprtnr.htm?IsSrchRes=1.
Updated in October 2007, this examines what business partnering is, why organisations are embracing it, HR models that can be applied and ways to implement the various choices available and their implications for HR professionals.
In particular, it focuses on the different models of partnering and examines ways to implement and strengthen them. It also looks at considerations when appointing and developing business partners and the implications for HR careers.
Such implications include:
The CIPD says: “The key value of Ulrich’s model does not lie in outlining new structures but in his analysis of HR roles. Business partnering refocuses attention on some basic issues about how HR is to achieve its aims: supporting line managers, aligning HR activities with the business and delivering efficient services. However, partnering is not simply a repackaging of good HR practice. Partnering is a 'paradigm shift' for most HR functions; it requires a revolution in HR’s values, operation and skills.”
A final word
“In today’s knowledge economy it is in the interest of the business that HR are on the top table contributing to the strategic direction of the business. People are central to business success and HR can add real value to business by focusing on the wider business and outcomes as well as the traditional HR specialisms.” - Shirley Dalziel, co-author, HR Business Partnering.
Want to know more?
Title: HR Business Partnering, by Shirley Dalziel, Director of Develop UK, Judith Strange, Director of Develop UK, and Mike Walters, HR practitioner and consultant, published by Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Availability: The toolkit is available from www.cipd.co.uk/bookstore. It is priced at £375 for CIPD members (£415 for non members).
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has more than 127,500 members and is the “leading professional institute for those involved in the management and development of people”. For more information visit the CIPD web site at www.cipd.co.uk.