HR must invest in capability to stay relevant


HR business partnering, in particular, has been subject to enormous role inflation over the past decade. No longer are HR business partners (HRBPs) simply generalist HR managers. In 2016, they are the ‘knot in the bow tie’ between the centre of a business and its constituent business units. To play this role, they must not only be good at HR but able to role model a commercial, pragmatic yet challenging attitude alongside skills in stakeholder management and relationship building. Not only this, but they must also be able to talk the language of talent and performance, in order to help embed and drive wider organisational approaches to talent at the local level and offer organisational design and change management support to their business. Yet I have spoken and worked with many HRBPs who feel that they have not necessarily been equipped with the tools to accelerate their own development in line with this need.

It is for precisely this reason that Henley has created the Effective HR Business Partnering programmes (parts 1 and 2) – to talk about this wider role of HR business partners. Each part is a one-day programme, minimising the time out of the business for HRBPs. Part 1 concerns the skills, attitudes and behaviours critical to establishing partnership and credibility in the role, while part 2 takes the conversation into the arenas of managing talent and performance. In combination with the OD and SWP masterclasses, these four one-day programmes offer a convenient and powerful opportunity for insight and development, and can be undertaken as single events or as a wider journey.

At a time when it is essential that HR functions establish themselves as a fundamental value partner for business and then deliver powerfully against this proposition; it is vital that HR upskills itself to keep pace and close the gap between demand and supply. If we continue to be the ‘cobbler’s children’ of business then we should expect the conversations around our value and cost to become even more frequent and pronounced.

To find out more about the Henley Business School’s HR Programmes, visit


Professor Nick Kemsley, Programme Director

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