The 4 challenges of the HR business partner role

The 4 challenges of the HR business partner role
Promoted by The 4 challenges of the HR business partner role

The concept of the HR Business Partner role has been around for more than twenty years now but it’s still evolving. Where it’s worked best those leading the charge have been:


  • Business-focused (ie, good at understanding how issues relate to their own organisation)
  • Strategic in their mindset
  • Credible in the organisation, and have personal impact
  • Skilled in building and maintaining relationships
  • Skilled and confident in challenging existing practices and driving change
  • Collaborative and solutions-focused


Where it’s not worked well line managers, in particular, have felt ‘done unto’ rather than supported and HR’s reputation has suffered.

So, what’s changed recently?


We’ve just done a survey of HR BP job ads which backed up what our clients were telling us anyway: it’s becoming increasingly difficult to progress as an HR BP without being able to show clear evidence of coaching skills, with a formal coaching qualification being said to be ‘desirable’ in some 75% of the ads we looked at. A pity, perhaps, that we didn’t do a similar survey twenty years ago, but we certainly don’t recall it being flagged as an issue then to anything like the same extent. Clearly, HR has learned from experience that effective business partnering is all about relationships and developing capability across the business.


So, what are the challenges?


And why only four? You can doubtless come up with a few more, but we’re confident that they’ll all boil down to the fact that business partnering is about balancing:

  • being a subject matter expert, with building the capability
  • working strategically, with operational delivery
  • engaging others, with delivering difficult messages
  • providing inspiration, with being a critical friend


This is what we do when we use a coaching approach. And this is why ‘able to take a coaching approach’ comes up time and time again on the top three skills an HR business partner needs.


Anyone looking to further their HR career would be well advised to ensure that they have the appropriate coaching skills and to ensure that they take a coaching approach to HR business partnering.


To find out more, just give us a call on 01582 714280 for an informal chat.


About the author

Elizabeth Crosse is Maximum Coaching’s Practice Director and one of the 1% of Coaches in the world to attain the ICF Master Certified coaching credential.  In addition to running marathons and training coaches, she specialises in working with individuals who are moving thorough personal and professional transitions.  


More Insights

Magazine Features