HRBP- HR Business Partner is it just a myth or a reality

Good morning friends,
In many Indian organization HR is still an administrative function where management feel that it should handle attendance, issuing appointment letter. To my horror, there are few organizations where HR does not have control over even in recruitment. Management has excuse that their department head knows best whom to be hired. My year after year observation is, such organizations have suffered a lot due to poor human resources quality and a high recruitment cost. 
However, the scene is changing in many organization and they are becoming an HR centric one. They have realized potential of HR and started to treat that HR should be a business partner. It should understand business first and must align HR strategy as per the business plan. I have been handling such role without an HRBP role without such designation for a long time.



Here is the transcript of the discussion. I am sure you will like it.

[11/12 09 For todays discussion u can take topic like:


Is HR as BP a hype or reality


[11/12 09:41] Ashish: VGM...Let us hv 2day topic



[11/12 09:41] Ashish: Wow that's so quick...



[11/12 09:44] Ashish: Love this topic bcoz completely agree that they all r hype, only do what managers say n no value addition to org....



[11/12 09:45] Ashish: So here is 2day topic - Is HR as BP a hype or reality...any value addition to organization or just doing what managers asking them to do...



[11/12 09:47] Participant 3: U said it. Many organisations whom i meet now as consultant feel HR still as Admin/Support function. 



I think it all depends on the MD/CEO of the organisation.
There are certainly exceptions and i have worked insuch organisations too.



[11/12 09:48] Participant 1: True



[11/12 09:48] Participant 1: We r mid size organization



[11/12 09:48] Participant 1: We r also started our journey to become BP



[11/12 09:49] Participant 1: What all service we provide EG recruitment or payroll



[11/12 09:49] Participant 3: Small Mid or Big does not matter. Its your Super Boss's vision n his perception about HR.



[11/12 09:53] Ashish: Being BPHR

One must be persuasive and courageous to get the right Buyin which or org and people centric


[11/12 09:53] Participant 2: I think HR BP is just a designation in most of the organisation, nothing else



[11/12 09:56] Ashish: Q is do they really do what's supposed to...most of employees don't know who are their HR BP...



[11/12 09:57] Participant 3: While we cry on each others shoulders, we also need to ask question to self- do we understand the business we are in?
How many of us understand figures?
Do we understand cost/ employee, recruitment cost, ROI, direct n indirect costs etc?
These are few things which will take us close to business n than we can think of becoming BP.



[11/12 10:04] Govind Sharma: Well, good topic and agree to Vijay,it depends on the top management what they feel and how they treat HR. If HR is not a business partner then there is no need to have this function. Although it does not generate any revenue but it helps organization through its complete life cycle of right from sourcing recruiting inducting managing to exit of the employee through refining process, hiring competent people. Making them competent aligning workforce with the mission and objective of the organization and ensuring their productivity through Human Resources accounting. Thus, HR is a business partner. Just hiring is not enough, hiring right talent is important, just ensuring training is not sufficient, measuring its effectiveness and ROI is more important, just having activities not enough ensuring how it engage people is more important



[11/12 10:08] Participant 4: I agree with Govind



[11/12 10:09] Ashish: The basic plbm wid HR now a days n very common that understand everything than their own HR part hence alll HR BP cases also driven by business managers...



[11/12 10:17] Participant 2: One exp I want to share: 
To know our business & products, recently i have requested my management for basic product training like what is PLC, wht is gas analyze, ac drives, how they work, our market etc etc 

And the reply was 'as a HR, those trainings are not required.'

We hv more thn 25000 employees in all over world. But still HR guys are working just for interview scheduling, joining formalities, exit formalities.



[11/12 10:18] Participant 3: No doubt we are custodians of people n hence should take care of them so on....but we should not forget that we work for a business org which has to be profitable n grow.
If we support this, we are HRBPs!




[11/12 10:21] Participant 2: Four roles that HRBP needs to play : 
1. Operations manager
2. Strategic partner
3. Emergency responder
4. Mediator between employee & employer

But 2nd option is always missing.


[11/12 10:21] Participant 3: Jibon...dont expect someone to come n give you 4 hours lecture. U get out of ur place, meet people at diff depts, u will understand bit, looking into ur interest some may volunteer to share with u. This is how i learnt IT 24 years ago after working for 10 years in hardcore manufacturing firms!



[11/12 10:23] Participant 2: Actually, there is a basic training program in the month january thats why i have requested to participate.



[11/12 10:28] Govind Sharma: While being with Metropolis Healthcare as a part of induction we had tour of every employee to every single departments, machines and they used to explain how it functions and how it works. Having business knowledge is mandatory and as an HR although not designated as business partner, we were HR business partner.



[11/12 10:46] Ashish: I believe, if a company appoints some one as HRBP then that person has some business orientation



[11/12 10:46] Ashish: I think what you choose to do of the role decides the effectiveness. I have one BP who through her valued input has earned lot of credibility from business



[11/12 10:56] Participant 3: How come very few responces today?
Common...share whatever u have experienced, seen.



Hope you are not worried :
[11/12 10:56] Ashish: HR BP meaning HR Below Power..



[11/12 11:02] Ashish: Our Attitude and Courage will decide whether we are Below Power Or Big And powerful HR person



[11/12 11:03] Ashish: Or say HR BP meaning HR beyond power.....



[11/12 11:04] Participant 5: its an organization or leadership weakness if they are not able to leverage HRBPs. I strongly believe that its a very powerful role and has got a wide exposure to the business. More than a role its also a behaviour that has an edge over others if managed and performed it very well.




[11/12 11:06] ‪Participant 6: Honestly it's too clich├ęd a term. it has become titular in nature but not seen any great change happen by having a BP in HR. The only thing Business got is one head to hold accountable than interacting with the myriad sub teams.



[11/12 11:07] Participant 7: Agree with @Baba...




[11/12 11:51] Ashish: Ashish sir, I agree wid u. Interesting topic today. It is just a designation, in which HRBP focus mostly on business needs rather employee needs. Sometimes, keeping all  things we have to talk business language. Yes, this absolutely right as HR needs to contribute to business too. But, that was happening when we call HR as Generalist, Isn't it? As a HRBP I can say that HR processes have become too complex. People nowadays convinced with this position because they see HRBP sits for longer time in office and traditional HR was operational as per working hour norms..




[11/12 11:56] Govind Sharma: I disagree that sitting late in the office due to business HR role, more the the designation, it is about what and how you do. Never had designation as business HR, I have done the role as HRBP



[11/12 11:58] ‪Participant 6: Titles are as varied as Senior HR BP, VP HR BP, I do agree that sitting late is more a mindset than business need. Learnt from some really great Bosses that productivity is more important than Visibility



[11/12 12:01] Participant 2: My previous boss was manager - admin. 
But his role was as a HRBP. 



He used to work with every with every dept., knowledge of every happenings in the organisation. Even MD prefers him thn any othr senior person.



[11/12 13:01] Participant 8: HR can never become a business partner unless you know what is the business. I have moved into different industry and the first thing my CEO tells, please know the business, know the numbers then you can give the right support. Being the head of global HR in my organization knowing different business segment is priority and it took me nearly 1 year to learn every thing. I had to spend more time i  field or in factories to assimilate knowledge. So be practical learn business like a finance or sales man then only you can give right support



[11/12 13:03] Participant 3: Dolphy...u said it. We need to learn.



[11/12 13:07] Participant 8: One more thing. The right business partnering is when your business head says.if hr interviews i dont require to interview. They know the business, they know the market so they know whom to recruit. This is true and one of my hr team member in previous company proved it. She managed recruitment until finalization. Business head knew she will do the right thing. That is real partnering. I am proud to say she is in this group too



[11/12 13:08] Govind Sharma: I agree to Dolphy without knowing business you can neither function as HR nor as HRBP what will you hire if you do not know the business? how will you ensure productivity if you are clueless about need of your business?



[11/12 13:14] Participant 5: True. Thats why it is called as HRBP.  How much integrated you are with the business wld determine your results, effectiveness and success. U pick any large organizations today and they are driving the HR strategies which are completely aligned to the business. HRBP or HR Partner functions are aligned to the business like - they have introduced BU HR leader role in many orgs today to ensure they are able to drive these agendas. For e.g. If u r driving a rebalancing or restructuring exercise in the org, u have no choice but to have a very Strong HRBP function or a team to drive these efforts.



[11/12 13:20] Participant 8: Also one more important thing, know your competitor companies, that helps to give right inputs to the business when they ask from HR



[11/12 13:20] Participant 9: HR can not be a business partner till the time they are not contributing to the business profits... and that is possible only when we understand what is required from HR to grow business. It always sound too attractive as HRBP(bcmng 2day trend) but many times we still focus on closure of position not on getting right person... we focus on getting pms score recorded in system not even looking if justification is done in appraisal or not.... we make attrition reports but do we actually dig out the root cause of why its increasing.... 
As Dolphy said we need to take extra efforts and go some extra miles to understand business and its requirements and then only we can move from operational HR to  productive contributing business profit centre for our organizations.


[11/12 13:27] Participant 3: To know whether you are playing HRBP role effectively or not, just see in how many strategic meetings where people matters were discussed, you were invited and took your inputs. 
Very simple measurement.


[11/12 13:43] Participant 2: Great input



[11/12 13:53] Participant 8: True Vijay



[11/12 13:53] Participant 3: Thanks



[11/12 15:02] Ashish: Let's have a different spill to this , why should HR expect business leads to show compassion or respect, why can't their own prowess, conviction. Focused talk, people proactive skills, innovative thoughts not establish them as powerful leader



[11/12 15:02] Ashish: The concept of bp was created when organizations learned how important is talent strategy, how coordinated effort it should be   generalist, partner these are designations what matters is core value add and visible changes or solution to concern



[11/12 15:02] Ashish: No CEO of tech companies these days are core tech guys but guys who have phenomenal capability to lead , interestingly please do read Dec issue of HBR which has the article that how top CHRO are the best for CEO post and not a CFO or CMO



[11/12 16:43] Participant 3: The same HBR had an article few months back saying HR may vanish !



[11/12 16:55] Ashish: 2day topic - Is HR as BP a hype or reality...any value addition to organization or just doing what BUs asking them to do...



[11/12 17:46] Ashish:  (This is view of other participants which Ashish has pasted) I think its hype. They are not allowed it do not have skill required to partner in business decisions. They at time are not able to safe guard employee interest which is their primary role as HR.



[11/12 17:46] Ashish: Folks I think the org Eco system decides whether an HRBP really adds value...if they have to do too many operational tasks then it might impact their effectiveness. It is important to leave them available to strategize and bring about positive change by influencing businesses and policies for which all of you have already agreed it is important to understand business. I think no one is born an HRBP...they have to be groomed over a significant period of time...too many times we get stuck in operational stuff and that can impact the role. Question is what is being expected from them and whether there is a framework to support this expectation...I have seen the model work and therefore can vouch that they definitely exist and add value. They have to be assertive and persevering and logical by nature since winning business confidence takes time, at the same time it is the managers responsibility to groom them and lead the way. A lot depends on the importance that HR is given in an org as well therefore if the other functions do a mediocre job and all the expectations are piled on to the HRBP to perform it will never work. In my team we do not blindly go with what managers or delivery or competency heads say, we go by what is right and we have been able to influence business greatly...so much so that from HR being just another function 18-24 months ago, today everything goes through HR only...and this is a collective effort of the entire HR organisation. That value had to be created and shown, respect has to be commanded not demanded, therefore I disagree that HRBP is a myth..an ineffective HRBP point to an equally ineffective HR team, HR Manager and HR Head and a poor organization culture in my opinion. The initiative is HR's to take, no one will welcome you with roses and open arms...I believe in creating credibility! Hope this makes sense and I don't go all over the place.



[11/12 17:46] Ashish: An HRBP has to align with business too and own their agenda in order to create value...that does not mean blindly aping what they say but being able to convince them and at times even agreeing to disagree if that's the right thing to do, courage of conviction is extremely important. Supporting business during their business hours is necessary, today just like 50 yrs ago people stand up and ask what work HR does and why are they needed to sit and work long hours at work! I think that the HR fraternity needs to rebrand what they do and project the value they have added, the question of relevance other before is just not limited to the HRBP's therefore. The same question of relevance is not always raised in other countries, why?



[11/12 17:47] Ashish: HRBP role is an amazing role, but we HR were unable to capitalise the strategic business partner in people, Process, customers and various stakeholders.. Sadly, we started facilitating line managers/project managers and not able to clearly articulate the complex business scenarios.. A Business Partner needs to have Business acumen, a great people and crisis manager, calm and compose and can communicate with ease at each level of employees..



[11/12 17:47] Ashish: Today's discussion seriously exposes chinks in the armour, brethren have confidence in yourself and learn that no business is more complex than human mind with voice of descent, business is product of our thought. And HR person is expected to influence the thought of these guys, yes we ought to learn business, but we learn this with purpose to find out what are the critical aspects of the business and what's it interplay with human motivation, perception, engagement, and culture . its better to be self aware then be in self critic, I have worked across industries, IT, Banking, investment banking, FMCG, and now Legal services, I didn't see any major perceptible difference in people irrespective of professional  background. Yes as Ankur said no one welcomes you with roses and I would add Gun either, onus is on us. Spread the special knowledge, build such great rapport with business that your power conviction enhances by their receptivity. Have the courage to say what's right but have the flexibility to accept contrary  views, business says what to do but have your say in how to do. I personally feel demotivated when our own fraternity says things like we aren't business guys or we don't have courage or we lack confidence, we have everything what a guy in two cubicles away has



[11/12 17:47] Ashish: Also I would advise everyone to look at the actual value proposition an HRBP can bring to the table rather than be biased or colourd with their opinion of existing HRBP's in their orgs...the org situation is purely coincidental in this discussion



[11/12 17:48] Ashish: No Ashish has put the right perspective before us and we need to be aware to break it to smithereens   he is the best to bring it this platform and we are the warriors of his leadership



[11/12 18:57] Participant 3: In future majority of the core HR activities which are transactional will get outsourced, which is anyway happening in some industries.
What will remain is aligning people with business needs.
If we cannot foresee this, and equip ourselves, we all may become redundant one day.
In many organisation may be for these reasons Head-HR positions are occupied by Technical guys!



[11/12 19:21] Ashish: see lot of passion here.... We r into project hiring and many a times refused to start project unless get direct access to business or active HRBP....... as any urgent delivery can happen when you strategize with all stake holders ....



[11/12 19:21] Ashish: BTW...that's another risk for HR..



[11/12 19:21] Ashish: Its a risk only for those who are not relevant and up to the challenge



[11/12 19:22] Ashish: my personal exp. with business guys into HR has been great... nd I see them moving very fast in career later... one of them has recentlt bcome even MD of world largest truck/bus comp. in India.....



[11/12 19:22] Ashish: I personally believe that it is time we in HR show more confidence in ourselves and our capabilities. I have not seen either Marketing or Finance ever say that they are business partners or trying to become business partners. They believe that they are the business!!! We need to know our business and play a very critical role in any business as HR cuts across the organization irrespective of function or level. So understanding the levers of success of the business and it's long and medium term plans is of paramount importance as this brings in the confidence in ourselves.

It is only when we start displaying the confidence will we be heard and then play the role of friend, philosopher and guide to the organization.   Once they see us adding value to the business, you are seen as business and no longer do we need to be looking at the future on becoming a business partner!!!


[11/12 19:22] Ashish: Yogesh..first let's understand ourselves HR completely...rest will take place automatically..



[11/12 19:23] Ashish: its time for the Business partner to become the Business Leader...



[11/12 19:23] Ashish: U said it Arun..let them b biz leader n HR as HR leader..



[11/12 19:23] Ashish: Hi guys my submission for today's topic : its hard to say whether its hype or reality .....solely function of ( business acumen , analytic ability , foresight ness n of course people championship ) of the incumbent playing HR BP role, for m its a different role than traditional HR role....not tagging it as transactional or strategic , fundamentally the incumbent should have extremely high levels of capabilities in above mentioned parameters ....going far ahead from P n L , balance sheet, going far ahead of ROI, value add ( as these things r mandates to be well versed with ) One must think n behave like a business person ...n then use influencing abilities to have desired behaviours n performance from business people....like swaps mentioned irrespective of industries people r more or less same , barring few deviations....quickly moulding self to the stakeholders eco system , quickly and actively understanding the basics n the dynamics of business ( not from HR lenses , but purely from business angle which a lot of time HRBP fails at ) is most imp....this way the probability of HRBP becoming successful in his role is higher....



[11/12 19:23] Ashish: HRBP bridges the gap between people manager and business growth



[11/12 19:23] Ashish: We can't make HR large without thoroughly knowing and helping business



[11/12 19:24] Ashish: I have seen in d organizations I worked ....HR guys first fail to understand biz...n then when asked from biz guys....they try to give solutions from typical HR angle....n that's where they loose their credibility..




[11/12 19:24] Ashish: Like Vardarajan sir mentioned ....marketing or finance never required to mention @ there value addition ....




[11/12 19:24] Ashish: marketing or finance never required to mention @ there value addition ....bcoz they focus n bring best expertise of their core dept...as said v need 2b best in HR first and rest will take place..but what v do n try to understand everything else except HR ....




[11/12 22:05] Participant 3: Great discussion. Its far better than attending any panel discussion.
Keep this passion on.
This is best way to learn and share our experience n knowledge. 
I look forward to one more interesting topic tomorrow.
Good night




[11/12 22:32] Ashish: Agree d best part is everyone can give their input widout any fear....though many members on mute mode since DOJ.....as said every drop count n want rest members to come forward, share, question n learn together...





I hope you liked the article. Those who are fresher into the field of HR or interested to know might have understood difference between a traditional HR and HRBP after reading this article. All questions are welcome.


Here is an image describing role of HRBP 

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