HR As a Strategic Business Partner As a Strategic Business Partner 1 Question 1: Many Human Resource professionals express the desire to have “a seat at

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<ul><li><p>HR As a Strategic Business Partner </p><p>1 </p><p>Question 1: Many Human </p><p>Resource professionals </p><p>express the desire to have </p><p>a seat at the table. What </p><p>exactly does that involve? </p><p> Answer: Over the years, the human resource function has evolved from what was previously referred to as the </p><p>personnel department, which was viewed primarily as </p><p>"processors." It has taken considerable time to transition into a valued department. </p><p>A "seat at the table" is not granted; rather, it is earned over </p><p>time as the executive team begins to recognize the value in </p><p>having HR involved and part of the decision-making </p><p>process. HR professionals are asking to be viewed as a </p><p>partner with the CEO and executive management team, </p><p>performing at a more strategic level. In doing so, the HR </p><p>department must demonstrate the benefit of keeping them </p><p>at the level of business partner. This includes showing the </p><p>direct financial impact and the impact on productivity and </p><p>maximization of resources. </p><p> Question 2: What is the </p><p>value in being viewed as a </p><p>strategic business partner? </p><p> Answer: Knowing that payroll is generally one of the larger expenses the business will incur, there is tremendous </p><p>opportunity for HR professionals to add value, in terms of </p><p>managing the costs associated with the workforce. It is the </p><p>desire to support the needs of the business through </p><p>effective management of "human" resources (i.e., the </p><p>employees) that positions them as strategic business partners. </p><p>As companies map out their long-term initiatives, there is </p><p>real value in having HR presence in that process. For </p><p>example, if the company anticipates a 30% growth rate in </p><p>the next 5 years, that will require effective forecasting and </p><p>planning to ensure adequate staffing levels. That is just one </p><p>example of the role HR plays in this type of strategic </p><p>planning. </p><p>With any goal the organization sets, there is likely to be an </p><p>effect on the workforce. This may include the preparation of </p><p>training programs to address performance/skill deficiencies. </p><p>It may also include a review of the compensation program </p><p>to be sure it effectively drives performance. When the HR </p><p>professional is a part of these discussions, he/she will be </p><p>able to take advantage of the opportunity for action in </p></li><li><p>HR As a Strategic Business Partner </p><p>2 </p><p>support of the company vision. </p><p> Question 3: What are </p><p>some of the barriers for </p><p>the HR professional to overcome? </p><p> Answer: One of the initial barriers human resource professionals may face is the perception that the </p><p>management team can perform the HR function. Many </p><p>managers have not experienced the value that HR can bring </p><p>to their business units. In other cases, they may have even </p><p>felt their ability to manage their team had been "stifled" by </p><p>HR in the past. Therefore, one barrier to overcome is </p><p>changing the perception of the HR function to one that is </p><p>positioned to "support," rather than "dictate." This is a </p><p>process that takes timeafter trust is built and value is demonstrated. </p><p>Other barriers are more controllable, such as not having a </p><p>good feel for the business and the industry. Not having a </p><p>good feel for the business and the industry can be a real </p><p>detriment to HR professionals ability to be viewed as credible business partners. </p><p>Fear of stepping up and asking to be a part of the team is </p><p>another barrier. Human resource professionals should be </p><p>prepared to take risks and speak up to voice ideas and concerns. </p><p>Again, some of the barriers are external and may take time </p><p>to overcome while others are internal, such as fear and no </p><p>confidence. However, it is up to the HR professional to </p><p>change these perceptions by adding value to him/herself and to the management team. </p><p> Question 4: What steps </p><p>can the human resource </p><p>professional take to ensure </p><p>they will be viewed as a </p><p>true strategic business partner? </p><p> Answer: We have learned that certain barriers/challenges may be present as the HR professional strives to be viewed </p><p>as a strategic business partner; however, where there are challenges, there is also opportunity. </p><p>There are many steps an HR professional can take to be </p><p>seen as a valuable business partner. One of the critical </p><p>steps is to take the initiative to learn the business and learn </p><p>it well. This includes reading trade journals and publications </p><p>and learning about the industry trends and competitors. </p></li><li><p>HR As a Strategic Business Partner </p><p>3 </p><p>Being able to "speak the language" and understand internal </p><p>operations will provide more credibility to the opinions and </p><p>recommendations being offered. </p><p>Once the HR professional knows the business, he/she will be </p><p>more likely to speak up in meetings and feel confident in </p><p>the recommendations and guidance offered. This may also </p><p>open up the opportunity to request a seat in the executive meetings to which they were previously not invited. </p><p>Another method to establish presence as a business partner </p><p>is to position recommendations in such a way that the CEO </p><p>and executive team will clearly see the return on </p><p>investment (R.O.I.). For example, when suggesting a new </p><p>process for reducing turnover, the manager may see that as more work on their part. </p><p>It is important to the HR professional to demonstrate, </p><p>through objective facts and figures, the value the program </p><p>will bring. In this case, it would include a decrease in </p><p>turnover which will impact productivity, time spent replacing positions, and cost for replacing staff. </p><p>With any recommendations made, it will be important for </p><p>the HR professional to show the value in terms of impact on </p><p>the companys ability to remain competitive. </p><p> Question 5: One aspect of </p><p>being viewed as a strategic </p><p>business partner is </p><p>developing relationships </p><p>with the management </p><p>team. What are some ways </p><p>to build that type of relationship? </p><p> Answer: Initially, there may be skepticism when the Human resource professional asks to get more involved. </p><p>Management may have a concern that HR will implement </p><p>changes that will work against what they are trying to </p><p>accomplish within their business units. One way to </p><p>overcome that perception is to build relationships with the </p><p>management team. Building a relationship will provide an </p><p>opportunity to establish trust in one another and to </p><p>understand that both parties truly want what is best for the </p><p>organization. </p><p>Relationship building may begin with face-to-face meetings </p><p>held individually with members of the management team. </p><p>This type of meeting will provide an opportunity for the HR </p><p>professional to get a feel for the managers leadership </p></li><li><p>HR As a Strategic Business Partner </p><p>4 </p><p>styles, functions of the departments, and current needs. </p><p>That initial meeting can serve as the springboard for follow-</p><p>up meetings where the HR professional will continue to </p><p>learn and begin to offer suggestions and solutions for </p><p>maximizing employee productivity. The relationship will </p><p>continue to develop as the manager sees firsthand the </p><p>results of the support HR provides. </p></li></ul>

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