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5 Essential Capabilities for Business Partnering with Impact

Frequent change and disruption. Market uncertainties. Rapid innovation. These are some of the many factors impacting businesses today. The expectations of the HR Business Partner (and HR Specialists) have evolved considerably in recent years and with these heightened expectations, comes the need to refresh and upskill to keep up with business demands. 

All too often though, we hear varied feedback about the effectiveness of Business Partners.  Whilst the expectations of the Business Partner role varies considerably from organisation to organisation, one thing remains consistent, there are core capabilities that elevate the quality the Business Partner and the business’ experience of them.  In a fast-changing environment, how do we better equip business partners to adapt and drive business value?

This article outlines the 5 essential capabilities for Business Partners that want to have impact:

Capability #1- Effective Communication

It’s an obvious one, but all too often taken for granted. In the Business Partner role, the ability to effectively listen to our clients and colleagues, consider their needs and requests and formulate strategic advice can be challenging.  In order to do this effectively when we are listening, we need to be fully present and focused on what the person is communicating rather than thinking about our response.  We may have communicated something, but that doesn’t mean it’s been understood.  Checking for understanding is vital for effective communication. Author George Bernard Shaw put it best, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Capability #2- Builds Trust

This is personally my number one in any relationship.  No trust = no relationship or not an effective one. So, how do you build and maintain trust as a Business Partner?  There are some core ingredients to building trust: effective communication, delivering on what you promise, demonstrating vulnerability, authenticity and demonstrating empathy.  Trust encompasses credibility and reliability too, and it evolves over time. It’s built and earned through demonstrated experience.

Capability #3- Collaboration

The nature of partnering is about working with others.   Through sharing ideas, dispelling assumptions and being focused on goals rather than solutions you’ll achieve maximum impact with your clients and colleagues.  You can be proactive in presenting independent ideas but ensuring these are open to discussion and debate will increase people’s opinion of working with you as a Business Partner.

Capability #4 – Organisational awareness

Partnering with impact means being well attuned to organisational factors.  You may be partnering with one area of the business; however, your advice will be enhanced if you have broad organisational awareness.  What’s happening in other areas of the business?  How is the organisation responding to customer needs? How profitable is the business? What’s the overarching strategy and the individual business unit strategy?   These are all questions that Business Partners need to ask and have answers to so they can demonstrate their credibility and ability to partner effectively.

Capability #5 – Strategic mindset

A strategic mindset requires the Business Partner to plan and move into the future with focused intentions and clear actions.  It builds on the organisational awareness capability as it looks outside and inside the organisation.    It requires the Business Partner to seamlessly move between the operational and the strategic and have a clear view on the organisational strategy and what initiatives and actions can best support the strategy.

These five capabilities form the basis of what makes a trusted partner and advisor in any business. 

If you would like to understand more about these capabilities and how they can be incorporated in your HR Business Partnering/Specialist role, join us on the Business Partnering Impact Program.

Our aspiration is to build a community of inspired HR thinkers, who can deepen their Business Partner capabilities and develop and connect with like-minded professionals.

If you are keen to register as an individual or to enquire about an in-house tailored session for a group, feel free to contact us.  We are always happy to have a chat about how we can meet your needs.

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