Approaches to Becoming a Human Resource Business Partner


By Antoinette “Toni” Ford 

As a Lead Facilitator for the Institute of Organization Development’s Human Resource Business Partner (HRBP) Certification Program, I have been asked by participants how to gain the trust, confidence, and respect of Leaders within the organization.  Typically, participants are either new to the HRBP role, are aspiring to become an HRBP, or, have a Leadership team that doesn’t recognize what they professionally can bring to a seat at the table.  In the past, HR was expected to inform Leadership of numbers on hiring/terminations, benefit costs, potential employee hotspots, impending labor/worker compensation issues, and a myriad of other topics.  The information provides top executives with data but hasn’t always given way to considering human resources as a strategic partner in the evolution of the organization.  Partly, there was a stereotype that cast HR as an informant to management or seemed only concerned with employees, at the expense, rather than strategically working for the business as a whole. The responsibility falls on us, as HR professionals, to generate our value by moving inside and outside of the HR realm. Developing business acumen is a key factor in achieving that strategic role.

There are some approaches HR professionals can take to enhance their career and generate value to their organization.  First and foremost, it starts with becoming aware of the business context.  What business are you in?  Next, gaining an understanding of how the business works.  It is our responsibility to appreciate how we can add value to the whole organization, including the impact on our customers, vendors, stakeholders, suppliers, and employees. If we have been Employee Champions in the past, we need to continue balancing that role with being able to see the Big Picture.  What global conditions exist?  Who are our competitors? What legislation may impact us?  What are the trends and what is the financial wellbeing?  When we begin to understand all of the above, we can identify the organization’s need for change and support growth as a Change Agent.  This involves making a convincing business case for the role we can play and the processes and procedures we will use to achieve Leadership’s expectations.  It is essential to practice “evidence-based” management to secure your role as a contributor.

I recommend anyone who is interested in enhancing their HR professional skills to link up to a professional group and participate in training programs/certifications that can assist you in developing the HR “muscle” needed to have your strategic contribution recognized.


Antoinette “Toni” Ford has held Strategic HR executive positions for Fortune 100 Corporations and is recognized as a leader in the field.  Toni is the lead facilitator for the Institute of Organization Development’s (IOD) HR Business Partner (HRBP) Certification Program.

The Institute of Organization Development (IOD) offers an online HR Business Partner (HRBP) Certification Program for those interested in advancing their careers as an HR Business Partner. Participants learn how to help their organizations implement an aligned HR strategy and receive the guidelines, tools, and resources needed to be successful.

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