Understanding the heartbeat of the business

Before HR business partners can add value to the business, they must first learn more about it.
By: | February 27, 2018

HR business partners (HRBPs), as their name implies, have the vitally important function of working closely with business leaders to manage the human capital aspect of executing business strategy. But this cannot be accomplished without an understanding of the business from a first-hand perspective. Thus went a commonly recurring theme during the first day of HRM Asia’s Strategic HR Business Partner Congress 2018, taking place at Novotel Clark Quay in Singapore from February 27 to 28.

“I ask my HR business partners, how often do you go for a customer visit? ‘Oh no, I don’t’. Then how do you engage with your business managers?” observed Raamann Ahuja, Senior Director, HR of Thermo Fisher Scientific Singapore.

Amitabh Nigam, Lead International HRBP at AT&T, said that it was imperative for HRBPs to get to the frontlines and experience for themselves the pain points and concerns facing employees every day.

“Spend time with people in the assembly line. Shadow people at all levels – understand how a typical day goes for them,” he advised. “Are there issues with the organisation structure causing them stress and pressure?”

Eric Yim, Global Head of Learning & Organisational Development at Shell, expounded on Nigam’s point, adding, “People on the ground really appreciate it, and will tell you things they won’t tell you things they won’t tell you in the boardroom. It’s how you can understand the heartbeat of the business. Business leaders appreciate when HR business partners can talk through issues in their own language,” he said.

Walking alongside teams on the ground is a crucial way for HRBPs to demonstrate genuine interest in the core of the business, and thus gain trust of both employees and leaders.

After all, as Yim points out, “Trusted advisors come before strategic advisors.”