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Friday, September 28, 2012

HR Business Partner Experience

The 5th in a series about Strategic Human Resources Management:

In last weeks readings and discussions we talked alot about the difference between the title HR Manager and HR Business Partner. While I have been both and sometimes the responsiblities where similar regardless of the title, I learned a great deal about how to transition and maintain the business partner concept within the HR department.

Approximately five years into my HR career, I worked or a financial services organization that was acquired by a much larger more active parent organization in the industry. The new owners lead us through a major cultural change that tool is from a clan or parentalistic organization to one that was highly organized and run by numerous policies that were very transparent an accessible to employees. One of the major pendulum shifts was salary administration. We went from not having a explicit stated strategy to a salary schedule which was reviewed at least every three years.

Once we made it through the transition having conducted hundreds of training courses on complement Mangement, Salary Administration, performance management and more it was time to evaluate our plan for accomplishing all the objectives of the organization. This included staffing plans and job analysis. At that point we were set up like most traditional HR departments with functional areas such as payroll, training, recruiting, compensation, employee relations, policy & procedures and had a reception area for candidates and employees. My role at the time was manager of three departments including the receptionist which were compensation, recruiting, and policy and procedures. I believe I had nine direct reports which included a HR Assistant, two recruiters, compensation analyst, job evaluation specialist and two policy specialists and a couple more positions for which I don't recall the titles.

Our HR Director at the time had been reading some business books including the balanced scorecard and decided to try a reorganization to the business partnership model. Unfortunately at the time we would be experiencing a layoff not just in our department but throughout the organization to the extent that 175 positions were affected. I lost over half of my own department including my own position as HR Manager. Honestly, the whole department lost their jobs and had to reapply for the open "new" HR positions under the new structure.

What we were left with was two business partners that reported to the HR Director with a support team that did all the work for the business partners which ultimately where for the client departments. The team consisted of an HR Analyst, HR Specialist and an HR Assistant. The two business partners essential split the company in half each having responsibility for approximately 700 employees. For example, as I recall my clients were Marketing, Customer Service, Legal, and several business units with titles specific to the industry.

We worked just like I do today as an external consultant only we were internal consultants that provided advice, counsel and when appropriate project work that they did not have the skill sets to do on their own. The client service department was implementing a brand new windows based service Managment software that replaced an old DOS based program. I assisted them with staffing plans based on the new job design and skills required. The Marketing department needed a compensation study conducted to market adjust their positions. The HR Analyst did the research and I presented the information with recommendations to the client department.

So essential were were the departments business partner working together to accomplish the objectives through others. This worked well for the company until I left to get some HR experience in the manufacturing field. Although I have heard that over the years they have bounced back and forth between functional and business partner format a couple of times. Unfortunately the organization is planning a complete closure over the next couple of years. For as much ad we plan the economy and competition continually affect the overall success, failure of an organization as well as leadership.


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