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Three Ways for HR Business Partners to Improve in their Role

Over 1,400 HR business partners got together to discuss their role and provide advice on how to improve at three fundamental tasks

HR business partners work with line and functional managers to help them with any HR-related issue, anything from performance management to helping run an employee engagement survey.

At a recent webinar almost 1,400 HR business partners (HRBPs) discussed three important questions that underpin a lot of their role and gave their advice to others on how to answer them. The questions and answers are below.

  1. Setting expectations: How does an HRBP do this well?
  2. Identifying Obstacles: What could prevent HRBPs from being effective?
  3. Planning Ahead: How do I position myself for future success as an HRBP?


  1. When setting expectations, only 38% of HRBPs agree that they clearly understand how to apply their competencies in their work. The takeaways from the discussion (summarized in the word cloud immediately below) highlight the importance of benchmarking HRBP responsibilities against peers, building development plans to target skill needs, and translating what “strategic” support and partnership should look like through conversations with managers and line clients.

    HRBP word cloud setting expectations

  2. When identifying obstacles, HRBPs should be aware of the organizational barriers they’ll encounter when working with their line clients, HR peers, and colleagues from other support functions.

    Discussions during the webinar showed that HRBPs have the greatest difficulty establishing productive relationships with their line clients, but recognize the need for better collaboration with HR colleagues in centers of excellence (such as Recruiting or Learning and Development) and HR shared services, and peers in Finance, IT, and other support functions.

    HRBP word cloud identifying obstacles

  3. When planning ahead, even with the strategies above, HRBPs said that the rate and scope of change their companies are going through makes the future seem so uncertain – and HRBPs’ internal partners (employees, managers, and line leaders) are feeling this too.

    The HRBPs on the call suggested certain tactics that they’ve seen work well for HR professionals, such as making sure to expand their exposure and influence, and they also highlighted the importance of better communication, networking, and understanding where they share goals with colleagues around the firm.

    HRBP word cloud planning ahead

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