A few years ago I had the privilege to attend a workshop discussion in Pune conducted by Prof. Wayne Brockbank, of the University Of Michigan School Of Business. The theme was HRs strategic role and how can HR be a business partner in real terms. The large hall was jam packed with business heads and HR executives. The audience was kept spell bound with his vast practical knowledge, interesting anecdotes and enriching insights. His keen sense of humor helped in putting across some hard truths aimed at the HR fraternity. HR heads couldn’t help sportingly applaud the learned professor’s well intended puns. 🙂
The writings and interviews of Prof. Brockbank and his colleague Prof. Dave Ulrich on strategic HR are widely read and followed they have written some great books on this subject. Their practical experience as strategy and organizational consultants spans across 18 years of empirical research data from over 20,000 people.
What it means for HR to be a Business Partner?
It means that HR must begin with business logic and not with HR logic. The key differentiator is the external knowledge not the internal knowledge of HR.
However general impression prevailing is that HR professionals still remain inwardly focused building on their functional expertise, models and processes. Their awareness of external business reality – market, competitors, shareholders, industry structures and global trends seems to be low.
Yet it is now acknowledged by business heads of enlightened organizations that in a globalized world of fierce competition and change, intellectual and human capital are a vital source which can create organizational excellence and provide sustainable competitive advantage.
And as Wayne Brockbank puts it – the world is telling HR: ‘We need to have you add greater value. But if you need to have that, you need to start from the business standpoint and not the HR standpoint’.
So is the HR as it stands configured today getting their act together? If not what are the issues that need to be addressed?
Please do share your thoughts! Thank you.