On an online forum last week, I read with interest a discussion amongst the HR community entitled ‘How much business should HR professionals know?’ I believe that the real question is broader than that. Our global research into the Success Profile for HRBPs consistently found business acumen to be a key feature in the mind-set of the most successful. High performing HRBPs live and breathe the business they are part of – they understand not only the intricacies of their organisation and division but also the bigger picture of which it forms part – the industry they operate in, the competitor environment, the economic, political and social factors that impact upon it.
But why is it that business knowledge is so critical to success? After all, surely HR’s greatest contribution is made through our own technical knowledge and expertise?
Our view at Head heart + Brian is that it’s not what you know, but how you use what you know. The effective application of deep business knowledge ensures that every decision made is informed by a clear understanding of its value and relevant to the particular organisation and the organisational strategy at hand. This, together with our HR technical capabilities, can provide a powerful force through which HR can lead and influence.
But how often do we actively invest time developing our skills in utilising this knowledge so that it has the greatest strategic impact? Generally we are better at investing time building and developing our knowledge – we attend seminars, network, read blogs and strategy papers and spend time building this knowledge base. Whilst acquiring this knowledge is important, its true value is only realised when it is applied in a way that is meaningful in a given business situation. Understanding what knowledge it is important to have, and how it will help you drive your business goals forward, is what high performing HR professionals do so well. The best HR leaders ensure that their teams are confident and able to draw on the knowledge they have developed to inform strategic discussions and generate meaningful insights with the business leaders they support. Knowledge for its own sake is not helpful….it’s all about what you do with it.
That’s the thinking behind our e-learning tool The Business Factor, designed specifically to provide HR professionals with the opportunity to hone their skills gathering and applying business knowledge to real business challenges. Accessing the training tool from your desks or on the move, once you log on to the site you’re introduced to the organisation you’ll be ‘working for’, and provided with background information on it and the particular challenges it faces. Then a scenario is played out. As the action unfolds you have to apply your knowledge of the business to make decisions. Each decision influences the outcomes achieved for the organisation, which means you can see first-hand what effect your business knowledge and insight can have. The tool also provides tailored feedback and analysis after every decision, to help you reflect upon the way you apply your knowledge to achieve maximum impact.
If you are interested in building your capability in this area, why not take a look?