As revenues decrease and margins get tighter, focus is shifted towards increased efficiency and effectiveness. Many corporations are weary about making adjustments to revenue producing sectors of the business so the support functions have been targeted for change. One particular department undergoing dramatic changes across multiple industries is the human resources department.
When earnings were plentiful, Human Resources consisted of many different sub-divisions such as: employee relations, learning and development, workforce planning, health and wellness, safety, recruiting, and so on. Fast-forward to today when everyone is struggling to meet analyst expectations on Wall Street and you get a bandwagon movement towards a package deal approach. The separate divisions within HR have been dismantled and bundled up into one generalist model.
Large corporations like Amazon, Conoco Phillips, Northrop Gruman and Volvo, to name a few, have transformed to meet shareholder expectations by developing the position of HR business partner. This revolution is demanding HR professionals with a wider skill set and deeper understanding of the overall business. As the title implies, a business partner is involved in the execution of all initiatives. Gone are the days when technical knowledge was enough to move you forward in your career. In the present and future, corporate America wants more!
So what does this mean to be an HR business partner? Partnership means not saying “that’s not part of my job”. Everyone is responsible for success. To foster this new culture everyone has to feel a sense of shared responsibility in the overall direction and vision. Although each department still brings an area of expertise to the table, think of how your knowledge and talents can add value to the entire team. This may mean sacrificing departmental goals in order to meet the needs of the business. The new role will entail making strategic decisions and giving extraordinary efforts as if the success or failure of the company depended on it. Industriousness will not be seen as a rare and attractive trait but rather a job requirement.
To sum it up, advancement and opportunities will only be given to those that bring the most overall value and have the ability to make things happen. The up and coming corporate superstars I have seen promoted time and time again give beyond what is asked for, are able to build effective relationships to drive results, and have the ability to make others around them better. In order to thrive in this new corporate structure, step away from “what’s in it for me” and leap towards “we can make this happen.” After all, partners are rewarded far better than employees.