Strategic HR Business Partnering


Much has been said about the need for HR to strategically position itself within the organization. Let’s explore however, what this actually means.

Strategic HR Business Partnering: What on earth?

It means for every function that HR carries out, the question behind every action must be – ’how can I tailor this to tie into the company’s business objectives?’ It is raising the HR function on such a pedestal that it becomes a valued contributor to the overall business success of the organization.


Turning a routine HR function to a strategic one.

Case: Performance Review

So, it is the end of a quarter and time for HR to assess performance.  A strategy minded HR professional would turn the routine job of performance appraisal into performance management. How? While in performance appraisal, you assess employees’ performance, communication is a one-way channel, blame is the name of the game and usually, you look back to the past, for performance management, you make plans on how to improve performance, there is dialogue between the supervisor and subordinates, problem-solving is the focus, and HR’s focus is on the present and the future. To do his, the following would have to be taken into consideration:

  • Identify your employee’s important job functions.


  • What are the key elements required for the employee to ‘do the job well? Are they in place?


  • Are there specific training needs the employee would need to have in order to optimally do his job?


  • By what parameters will you measure job performance? Are the appraisal methods fair? Do they directly measure his contributions or lack of it?


  • What are the barriers to good performance and how can HR and the employee work together to improve performance?


It is only when all these considerations have been put in place and action taken that HR can be said to have turned around a seemingly mundane function into one that cannot be ignored in ensuring the success of the organization


How can HR strategically align with the company?

HR can make significant contributions to building an organization that is staffed by the right human capital to carry out the work of the firm and enable the accomplishment of business strategy. HR can make a logical case for being an important part of strategy development, because of the importance of human capital in the ability of the firm to carry out its strategy. For this to become a reality however, HR’s focus must be on:

  • Helping senior managers to develop strategy for the organization, strategic business units and the departments that make them up
  • Helping managers to understand the people implications of their strategy
  • Using the key skills of people to add value to  the organization
  • Solving day to day organization-wide problems at a strategic level
  • Building, designing, implementing and facilitating new organizational structures, processes and systems
  • Ensuring alignment of HR processes and systems with the organization’s strategy as a whole.

HR is no longer a backroom or support function. It is in the forefront of corporate strategy, much like sales and marketing. It provides and determines competitiveness to an ever increasing degree. All other things being equal – financial, physical, and product assets – people will make the difference between two competing companies. Strategic HR can make this difference happen. This however, cannot happen without he will to make it so. We have to buckle up.

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