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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workspace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is my co-host JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm, and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.”
Today, we’re going to be talking about HR Business Partnering. Why don’t we start, JoDee, with how we define what an HR Business Partner is. So, formally, I would say an HRBP is the designated job title in a company for someone who is usually assigned to a business segment to really be the face of HR. In your experience, JoDee, what – any other different way you would define it?
No, I think that’s good. A lot of times that companies have that set up by business unit, sometimes it might be by location, by just different segments of the business, or sometimes, many times, a business partner might have a couple of segments. They might have, for example, accounting and finance or, you know, operations and marketing or some combination of those as well.
Sure. In one large company that I worked for the term HR Business Partner really started to surface in the mid 90s, where I think the organization was getting so large, they felt as though if HR was going to be at the table, really, with the leadership team that they needed to know as much about the business as any of the other leaders. And so we actually went through a process of pulling a number of people out of traditional HR functions. I was in employment and employee relations at the time, and I was asked to support the retail or the consumer-facing side of the organization for a particular territory, a three – or a three state region.
Yeah, that’s – early in my career, early in my HR career, I should say, I didn’t have the title of HR Business Partner, but in essence, I was that person for two different locations at one point and then later, three different locations of our organization, I was the HR person, or in essence, the HR Business Partner for those locations.
You know, and I do think your point’s well made, not everybody who is an HR Business Partner is called the HR Business Partner, right? I think you can be an HR department of one or you can be even the comp analyst, you can be the talent acquisition manager. I think that, really, what we like to think of, and it’s – on this particular episode, I think what we should talk about is really the broad use of that term, that if you are an HR person who is supporting a particular business unit, how can you really partner with that business unit to help them achieve their strategic goals and kind of live their mission, vision, and values?
So I did a little bit of research and preparation for today’s episode, and I found some information that HCI published in April 2018 about what are the competencies that are really needed in the HR business partners of today and really into the future. So let me share those. Why don’t I do the first one, JoDee, and I’d love your reaction to it, and then you can share the second.
The first one they say is a really well rounded knowledge base. But what do we think about when we say knowledge base? I do believe that it’s knowledge of the business for sure. But also, you’ve got to have your HR knowledge. You know, I think you start with understanding the business, but you bring to it your area of expertise, which is HR, and in order to really know the business, I think the best place to start is really knowing the people in the business. Right?
Right. I think also the industry of the business, too, understanding more than just the company itself, but who their competitors might be, what, what other business models practices are people in that particular industry doing?
Yeah. And I absolutely do think that this is not just a once and done, either, right? That you need to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry.
You need to stay on top of, for your particular business, who their competitors, what are the competitors doing, that we either, you know, aspire to also be doing, or maybe things that they’re doing that we don’t care for that helps us differentiate ourselves.
The second one is being business minded. And I think this is old school HR, where HR professionals didn’t feel like they had to be business minded, that they were there for the HR expertise or that they were there for the people. And I think it’s really important that the HR Business Partner takes on this role of having the business acumen of understanding, again, how does the company make money? How did they – what are their biggest costs? How can HR enhance those particular attributes of the business and not just thinking, “Oh, people will come to me when there’s a people problem.”? But if sales are lagging, how can they help make sure that the salespeople are trained the best, or how can they hire the best salespeople? What is an HR person’s impact on sales or costs?
I totally agree with you, you know, maybe we’re not rewarding the salespeople in a way that’s incenting the behavior that we need.
So maybe we need to come at it with a compensation viewpoint, again, from a talent acquisition, are we hiring the right people? Do they have the competencies the organization needs for them to reach the type of revenue generating goals that we have?
Love that. People have said, “Well, you know, Susan, how do I get all caught up in expenses for the company? I don’t really – does it really matter that, you know, our facilities expenses are going up XYZ?” I say it absolutely matters, that you’ve got to understand, you know, how we bring money in and how money leaves. I would challenge most people who are listening to this is that almost every revenue generating option and every cost, usually there’s a people component to it. Somewhere along the line, there’s a people component that you can help that organization figure out solutions if you truly understand what’s making that business tick.
So the, so the third element that HRCI recommended as a competency for the HR professional, for now and the future, is having the employee’s best interest in mind. I do think that sometimes when you get too far on the pendulum of focused on the business and being part of a leadership team, you have to pull back, take a breath, and realize that yes, I am the face of HR for this business entity, but part of that is making sure that not only is our management doing all the things that they should do, acting ethically, creating an engaged workplace, all of those things, but our employees also need to be heard. They need to have a voice. They need to be doing everything we’re expecting them to do. They need to understand their jobs, they need to understand their goals. And so you, as the HR professional, you’ve got to be looking at things with a very broad mind, and make sure that employees are being treated the way that they should be.
And I think, too, a part of that might be helping the employees find their best spot in the organization, you know, or using their strengths, are they in the right role based on the strengths that they have or the gifts that they can bring to the organization, because sometimes people aren’t in the right spot, so helping them figure that out as well. So the fourth competency is people skills. Sounds a little obvious, maybe, for an HR person, that people skills might be important. But I know for me, as you know, I’m an accountant by trade, and I think sometimes I was very business-minded and not always focused on the employee or my, my people skills specifically. So, you know, a part, a big part of that, I think, is communication skills, obviously, and being able to listen to others.
I do too. And I think that just our normal emotional intelligence, really, I think that when you decide this is going to be your career, you’ve got to really focus on all of your interpersonal skill building. And there’s, you know, so many different types of trainings out there and books to read. I just think that we have to remember that if people is our area of expertise, we’ve got to keep ours sharp and fresh and be role models that we want in the organization. So the final HCI recommended competency was insurance knowledge. I have to tell you, I looked at that and said, “I’m in trouble here.” I was surprised at that one. Also, I think that the point is, I read the full article, which I encourage all of you to go back and find, as well, an April 2018 HCI article, as I mentioned, is so that, because there is so much in the world of healthcare that is changing, and being that it’s usually like the number two or number three most expensive people-related expense most businesses have, that we should be at the forefront at of knowing what’s happening, anticipating what’s coming, and really advising our leadership teams on how to best position themselves so that they can provide the kind of employee benefits they want for their people.
Right. I agree.
So I – you know, that’s what HCI thought, what are some other competencies that maybe you and I would like to add, JoDee?
Well, I think they probably, this is incorporated into several others that we already mentioned, but I just always think of the term business acumen, which goes back back to that being business minded and, and the well rounded knowledge base, but having a business perspective as well as the people side and the employees, as well.
Good. I would add employee engagement. I think it’s really important that you, as an HR Business Partner, first of all get comfortable assessing what is the level of engagement of our staff. How do I get our leaders involved and interested in understanding the value of them engaging their teams, and how do we – how do I provide some structure and help for them to do it right?
Another one is investigation skills, that can be very critical, just in a he said she said situation. It can of course be really escalated in a harassment type issue, but, but knowing when and who to ask the right questions to.
Yeah, and there’s plenty…
To find out what happened.
I was gonna say, plenty of courses out there on how to become a really good investigator, right? I think understanding talent acquisition. Not every HR business partner is responsible for recruitment, but I think you have to be able to advise your leaders on the some of the best talent acquisition strategies that are out there, know when to pull in the experts that you might need.
Succession planning, whether the organization has a formal plan or an informal plan or whether they… there’s a plan for maybe just the leadership team or not. I mean, of course, we always recommend, and you can refer back to another earlier podcast that we did on succession planning, but understanding the importance of having people ready to take on the next role and to have successors in place.
Yes, I think executive coaching is a competency that HR business partners really want to have in their toolkit, because they’re the ones, really, that leadership team that needs to turn to the, to their neighbors, turn to the heads of the businesses across the whole enterprise and really be able to tell them truths that maybe their staff member’s not telling them. Maybe their leader isn’t amplifying, you know, to every individual what they need to hear. I think that good HR business partners get good at really being a good internal executive coach.
HCI mentioned the insurance knowledge, and another piece of that would be compensation, or combined together, the whole concept of total rewards. Understanding that people are being paid fairly, that they’re at market, and/or what the business compensation or total rewards philosophy might be. Do you pay people under market and offer better benefits? Do you pay people lesser benefits but higher pay? Understanding how people are motivated by bonus programs and structure and, and all of that put together.
Yeah. And thinking about maybe some long term incentives, maybe we need to work on retaining people here. Maybe one of our strategies is to leverage that total rewards so that people are kind of locked in place, because it’s going to be valuable to them to stay.
And certainly diversity and inclusion. We’ve talked about that and the importance of that in organizations as well. There’s been a lot of focus, a lot of conversations on the importance of diversity and bringing new thoughts, histories, experiences to the table, but not forgetting about the inclusion, that we can bring diverse people together, it doesn’t mean we always focus on including them in the right conversations or listening to their opinions.
So JoDee, let’s talk about what really differentiates a true HR Business Partner from a just a normal HR person.
Well, I think number one is about communication, about understanding the different styles of communication that your, your team, your leaders, those internal clients that you’re serving, and how they want to be communicated to. And sometimes that means verbally one-on-one, sometimes that means that we, we email, the way we issue information in stages or all at once. I mean, there’s – we could do a whole podcast on this topic, probably. But.
I agree. And I do think the HR Business Partner, really think strategically about what kind of communication is needed when we’re trying to drive a change or maybe start something new in the organization. We can help the leaders figure out for every audience that needs to hear this message or to embrace this message, what is the best tactic. You know, is it having a town hall meeting? Is it having smaller meetings? Is it sending an email out, followed up with supervisors pulling together people in huddles? I think, really, the HR business partner may not be, you know, a communication expert, may not be the one writing the press releases, but they have to have come at it with, I think, a strategic perspective.
Right. I know, for me, that, I think, that was something I failed at early on as an HR business partner, and that I would spend a lot of time on a new, new policy, a new procedure, a new initiative, a new program, and really think through all the different steps and the ways that it would impact people and I felt like I did a really good job on all of that. But then I would forget to sort of roll it out slowly or talk to different groups, or I would just all of a sudden one day announce it to the whole business unit in an email and wonder why people were surprised or weren’t as excited about it as I was.
You know, I think falling underneath that is when you are trying to affect a major change and/or communicate something that is really important, sometimes we have to get, like, a champion or somebody in the organization that’s an influencer, that’s really highly thought of, to really be out there giving a testimonial about it or endorsing it. So the HR Business Partner who’s thinking very intentionally and thoughtfully about how do I roll out something, they really start to think about what other reinforcements or, or support can I get on this particular topic to make sure it’s going to be as successful as possible.
Right, right. What’s another differentiator, you think, Susan?
I think that an HR Business Partner will, when they make a recommendation, that they put a lot of thinking into it ahead of time, and when they present an idea that they usually have the business rationale tied right to it. So if an HR business partner is suggesting that, for example, we need to expand the lunch hours, the lunchroom cafeteria opening hours, that they’re going to come at it with, and here’s why I think it makes sense for our business. And maybe it’s pointing to the fact that at lunchtime, we have to get all of our contact center employees through the cafeteria line in a two hour period and if you look at the numbers behind that, our customer complaints tend to skyrocket during the two hour lunch period. Maybe if we had the cafeteria serving three hours, and we were able to stagger lunches, not only would it hopefully reduce our customer complaints, but we may have employees feeling like they have more choice over the hours they eat. So they come at things with the business rationale when they make a recommendation. It can honestly torpedo us if we come at something and we have a recommendation and we say this is the right thing to do or it’s a good thing to do, which, I think early in my career, I felt very strongly about things being the right thing to do. Well, I think without pointing to a particular strategic objective or a goal that we have, or a real business reason, I think it can fall on deaf ears when you’re making a recommendation.
Yeah. That leads me to my next item, which is the power of using metrics. I think sometimes as, as HR professionals, we want to talk about how people feel or what people like or what they don’t like and not always use hard and fast factual metrics when we talk about turnover or time to fill jobs or average compensation per person. Or there’s a multitude of different metrics that HR business partners can use to really help build that case or support the business itself. I, I know a friend of mine who’s a recruiter in a company told me recently she was in a meeting where one of the managers kind of called her out saying that the time to fill seemed to be exorbitantly long, and he was very frustrated with the recruiting team. And she immediately pulled out some metrics showing how much their time to fill had improved over the past year…
…and that he was thinking of some, a couple of particular positions that had been hard to fill, but they’d also been more than a year ago. And she said it really helped her show the power of, of her team and how much they had worked on that particular metric. So not being afraid to use those hard numbers to make a case.
I always say in HR, we have access to so much data, we do! And we have the, hold the keys to that information vault and we have to be smart about pulling it out, analyzing it, and giving it to our leaders so that they can make data driven decisions. They’re hungry to do it. And we need to be that conduit to make it happen.
Right. And even going to those business leaders or our business partners to say, what information do you need? What can I provide you that I haven’t been providing you with? Or going to the CFO and controller and partnering with them on getting more of that data.
I think that’s very smart. So my next one, to really differentiate yourself as a true HR partner I think you have to realize that your power is really in your ability to influence. It’s not going to be because you’re in the position you’re in. It’s going to be because, because you don’t have – very few people in the company, probably, report to you. If you’re lucky you’ve got a decent sized HR team. But if not, all the people that you really need to affect change through in general don’t report to you. They’re usually the business leaders. It’s the supervisors, it’s the frontline employees. And so I think it’s recognizing that you need to figure out how to influence. So what are some of the things that you do, JoDee, to influence people?
Well, I think some of the things that we’ve just mentioned. By using metrics, by talking to them in a way that they appreciate, so understanding what their communication style is, not just the style that we want to use, but using their lingo or their terms of the conversation, to show that we respect and understand what they’re trying to accomplish, thinking about it in terms of their their particular goals, or the mission and values of the organization as well.
I agree. I don’t know if we’ve ever mentioned on this podcast the book by Kim Scott “How to Be a Kick Ass Boss without Losing Your Humanity.” And one of the things I really enjoy about her book, and you can, if you want to look at her on… just Google her, you can see a short snippet of this concept, she wrote the book in 2017. And her point was that you need to really care personally before you can challenge directly. And she learned it from Sheryl Sandberg when they both worked at Google. The point is, is that if you’re going to influence somebody, they really do need to know you care about them. So I say to be a great influencer, you really need to establish relationships with the people, the, the leaders in the organization or the people in the organization that you’re trying to influence first so they know you care about them. So that when you bring a solution, or maybe as Kim Scott recommends, you sometimes have to challenge people directly, they know it’s coming from a place of good intent. So I think that’s probably the first step. Let’s do, let’s develop those relationships with people we’re trying to influence
Right, love it. And then the last one, I think, is just not being afraid to say I don’t know, but I’ll find out. I think being honest with people about what what you know and what you can get your hands on and not trying to fool them or make up information, but just finding it out and then reporting back to them in a timely manner what, what the answer is.
I think that, you know, you have to demonstrate some vulnerability there that, you know, I don’t know the answer. But, man, I would much rather you say that then give an answer that may not be right.
Because that could – that, that’s hard to come back from later. Right?
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So JoDee, I’m very excited about our guest today. It’s one of my very favorite former clients and current good friends, Jerry Goldstein. Jerry resides in Chicago. He is a retired bank executive and now finance director for his temple. Jerry, so glad to have you. Would you be willing to describe a little bit of your history as a bank executive?
Sure, Susan, I’d be happy to. I spent most of my banking career in retail branches. Actually, the majority of my career was at JPMorgan Chase. When I started out I managed one branch in wealth management, and then as I had opportunity to grow and get additional responsibility, it continued to grow. So it went from managing the particular branches, branch, then to managing a number of branches. So the branch managers reported to me and it continued to grow along the way. The two biggest jobs I had was, one, managing the Chicago market, where we had about 250 branches and about 2,000 people. And then the last, last number of years, I had a region of four states, 450 branches, almost 5,000 people.
So what role were you in when you were first assigned your own HR Business Partner?
So my recollection is that when I started to manage the Chicago market that was a 250 branches, I had an opportunity to get an HR person specifically assigned to me. In the past, you would have a group of people. So every time you would talk to somebody you would just talk to whoever was available. But when it got that big, I was able to get one particular person that was assigned to me and my team.
And what did you think about that? I mean, when you did have that opportunity to check in with anyone you wanted to, now you just had one HR Business Partner. Was that scary or exciting for you?
Well, it was a little bit of both, to tell you the truth. And to be to be honest, it was scary, because I had good experiences with HR people and I had some not so good experiences with HR people. And I was, you know, I was concerned that I really wanted to have a good relationship. And I wanted to make sure that the HR person that was assigned to me, that we had a good relationship, and that person helped us be successful and be part of the team. So it was a little scary, but it was it was really good, because you got 100% of that person’s time, obviously. And so that, that was great, because the person was pulled in all sorts of different directions.
Yes. And given the size of your enterprise, I know your HR Business Partner would usually have a team of people underneath him or her to support all of your layers of management. Is that right?
Yes, that’s true. So while that person was assigned to me, she also had to worry about managing her group of people who were assigned to my people. So we had all those issues too, sometimes.
So Jerry, why don’t you tell our listeners why you think having a strong HR person on your leadership team is important?
Well, I think a strong HR person can help, help us be really successful. With so many employees there were always issues, and, you know, myself and really all of our managers, we weren’t the experts on everything. And, and so it was really important to have somebody that had a lot of experience, that, you know, sometimes it was to keep us out of trouble. But really, most importantly, I thought it was to give us a different viewpoint of things. And I was always amazed when I, when, you know, we would talk, that, you know, sometimes I thought, well, I know exactly what to do, and it wasn’t always correct. And so it’s really important to have that expertise on our team.
You know, Jerry, I probably told you this, but we had a mutual boss at one point who used to introduce me as his HR Business Partner, “Susan is the one here who keeps me out of jail.” With, you know, with you, I never had to worry about that. With this other person I did.
And Jerry, how did having a dedicated HR Business Partner align to your team help you both personally, and the organization achieve its goals?
Well, personally, JoDee, what it helped me is it helped me grow as a manager. Just because you get an opportunity to manage all these people, you shouldn’t really make the assumption that, wow, they gave me this job because I was a great manager and I knew everything. That wasn’t always true. You’re always growing, you’re always learning. And so having that person assigned to me directly just helped me grow individually for our organization. Our success was really based on our people. And, and when we had good people who were successful, when we had challenges we needed to deal with the people. And so having those HR people as part of our team, having my own HR person as part of our team was so, so important. Yes, she kept me out of jail. I mean, so far!
I think the statute of limitations are over, we’re okay!
And, but far more important than that, just to help us meet our strategic goals by making sure we had the best people we could in all these jobs.
So Jerry, a number of our listeners are HR professionals themselves, and some of them either are HR business partners or are striving to be an HR business partner. What kind of advice can you give as a business person for HR professionals to be true partners to their business? What are some of the things that they should think about or maybe do?
Well, you know what, it’s interesting, because I think what… really, the best HR person, I think, needs to be a full participant of the team. Okay? When you have an organization as big as, as we had, you have lots of different people in the room, you have all of the people that are all my direct reports, but then you have other people who, who were there, like a finance person and, and, you know, and different types of people, but the HR person needed to be part of the whole team. Okay? And in our situation, what I felt was is that we never really ever made a decision without you, Susan, weighing in on that. And so the people have to be really knowledgeable, they really have to be, they really have to avoid this sort of like, you can’t do that, you can’t do that. Okay? And nothing is black and white, there’s always gray there. And so what I was always looking for is somebody that could come up with solutions for us, and not be an impediment to what we were doing, and, and that’s why I think our situation was just so great, and it just helped us be so successful.
Yeah. I think you answered, in my opinion, one of the key answers to this, but I’ll ask you the question. What are some things HR professionals should avoid doing? And I know, for me, I’m always recommending to people that they not be the no person, that they’ve not always answered, no, you can’t do this, because… or the law says, or compliance is…
Yes, you know, sometimes, sometimes HR people get a bad rap by people on the line, for sure, okay, the business people. And I think the number one reason why they do is exactly what you just said, JoDee. Okay, they’re telling you why you can’t do something or, you know, Susan joked a little bit about keeping us out of jail. Okay? There were some HR people that I had that said, “Well, you know, legally, legally, you couldn’t do that.” Okay? And they felt, I think when they said “legally,” they figured, well, you know, that would be the end of the discussion. But sometimes what I found out is, they weren’t the lawyers either, you know, so they really shouldn’t say that. And so, again, finding solutions was really the key. Whether, you know, whether… whatever the issue was, helping find solutions was the key.
That’s great. So, Jerry, how can HR garner the respect of leadership teams and assure that you’re at the table so they can really lean in? Do you have any tips or tactics?
Yeah, I do. First off, they need to be knowledgeable in their jobs. Just like I needed to be knowledgeable in my job, you know, the HR person needed to understand what they needed to do. They need to be up to date on all the potential issues that, that are happening, you know, the world changes all the time, whether it’s legal or whatever, so they needed to be up to date with all that. Okay? I also think that not only do they need a knowledge of the HR side of things, they really needed to try to dig in a little bit and understand what was going on in terms of the whole business that we were running. What made us successful, what was important, what wasn’t important, you know, what were those big issues. And again, for me, my HR person, Susan, wasn’t just an HR person that was one of 10 people, turned out that we were the closest of confidants. You were my confidant, and I do have a story I wanted to tell if that’s okay.
I don’t know!
I want to hear! I want to hear!
Well, yeah, it’s about you, but it’s a good one.
And this really goes back to the strategic goals. Susan, remember when our management came to us and said, “You know, I know you are looking for, we’re going to continue to grow and we’re going to be looking for new managers, and we really need to add to our diversity, so we’d like you to go out and look for people outside of the company that could add to our diversity, and they could be successful managers for us.”
Oh, I sure do.
And so, that probably was a little different than, than things that I’ve ever asked Susan to do, although she certainly was capable of doing it. And so Susan went on a search, and we found somebody, two people, actually, from a big competitor of ours. And we sort of interviewed them together and we sort of looked at them together and I don’t even remember that anybody…. it’s – we pretty much had the authority to do what we wanted there, if I remember right, and, and we hired these people, and one of them went to another market, one of them went to my market, and that was, oh, it was a long time ago. And that person today is a really successful person at the same company, at JPMorgan still, they’re still successful. And I’m really proud of that. You know, that helped us meet a couple strategic goals, because not only did they, did they help us with our diversity, but they were, but most importantly, as far as I was concerned, they were really successful in their job and help us meet our others strategic goals.
Yes. You know, Jerry, that’s such a great example. It was very different than what the organization was doing at that time, because we were so heavily promotion from within. And so we kind of, we had to do a lot of this kind of, like, mostly cloak and dagger, but it was, it was a big deal. There was a lot of pressure on us to make it happen.
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely.
It was fun. A lot of fun with Jerry.
Yeah, it was. It was, it was fun, because you’re right, we never really had that opportunity very often. So it’s fun to sort of wine them and dine them and get them in, and I’m really glad that they were successful.
Good. Jerry, as you have been pulled into HR issues, probably lots and lots of HR issues over the years, what has surprised you the most?
So, JoDee, you know, it’s funny, but the longer I managed, it was sometimes easy to say, you know what, I’ve seen everything and I know how to do this and I’ve been managing forever. And people would tell me, “Boy, you’re a great manager, and you know what you’re doing,” and, and that’s really good. And then something else would come up and what I’d find is that was totally not true, it was totally not true. Even when I thought I knew I was, I was going down the right path, I wasn’t always going down the right path. And so that’s why it’s so important to have that HR professional with you. Even if you think you’re right. Okay, if nothing else, it’s somebody else to bounce an idea off of. You know, sometimes if you didn’t have that HR professional, you’d probably go to some of the direct reports who you really are colleagues who you really trust and like, but sometimes when you do that, you do… the reason why you like them and trust them is because they had the same mindset as you.
And so it’s really important to have them, you know, to have a sort of a little bit of an independent view of things. And not a person who’s thinking along the same lines as you to get that other view. And that’s – I was always surprised when that would happen. And like I said, every time you thought you saw something, that you, you said, “I… there’s nothing ever new that I’ll ever see.” There always is. Always is. Always.
I get – Jerry, I continue to get surprised about what people will do in the workplace.
To this day! I am still surprised.
Oh, yes. Absolutely.
They did what? At work? Oh my gosh.
And you had your share of those, I know.
So Jerry, last question. Any other advice that you have for people that are listening today who want to be HRBPs or maybe better HRBPs?
Okay, so a couple of these we’ve said, but obviously, be knowledgeable about your job, try to be knowledgeable about the group that you’re assigned to. Okay? I think most importantly, I would say listen, listen, listen. Okay, that’s, that true – that’s not just for an HR professional. That’s true for all us. But listening, listening, and listening is the most important thing you can do. I think also, it’s important to be open to different personalities. You know, it’s funny, because as Susan and I really clicked, Susan and I really did a great job. But, you know what, Susan and I did not come from the same place. We came from different companies. We came from different backgrounds. We came from different cities, but we clicked, and I think the reason why is that Susan was such a great listener, and hopefully I listened to her once in a while.
You did. Absolutely.
And that was really important, so many different personalities, many backgrounds. Also, lastly, I would say, make sure, two things, make sure that you take the opportunity to show your value to the business people. I know HR people are always fighting for that seat at the table, but making sure that you can show the value to the business people you’re assigned to will get you that seat at the table, will get you that trust, you’ll be that confidant that I’m talking about. And then lastly, and this is really important, okay? You really have to remember that you’re dealing with human beings, and you’re dealing with their lives, and you, and the decisions you make will affect their lives. And it’s really easy to forget that, you know, it’s like, wow, that person did that, so therefore, we’ll have to do this. And that doesn’t mean you don’t make the right decision. But just understand that every decision you make about people affects their lives, far greater than you might realize. And you know, with all these people that you’re managing, they can really turn into just numbers, and you can’t. They’re real people with real lives. And even when you have to do things that are not so great, showing that compassion, I think makes a great HR professional.
Wow, nice. Great advice, Jerry, not not just for HR business partners, but really for all leaders.
Absolutely. JoDee, you could see why I was so crazy about him as a client.
I know. She speaks very highly of you, Jerry.
Well, the feeling’s certainly mutual. I hope it comes out in this.
Aww. Well, great. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Jerry.
You’re welcome. You’re so welcome.
After talking about all these competencies that an HR business partner needs to have, I’m almost exhausted. So JoDee, let’s talk about some places where HR business partners or aspiring HR business partners can go to really skill build and maybe maximize the competencies we’ve talked about.
Well, the easiest one, though not always easy, can be just on the job training, right? Going to those, those business partners that you have, the CFO, the, the president, the plant managers, and asking questions of them to show that you have an interest in understanding their role and how you might impact them and help them achieve their personal and organizational goals.
Yeah, I truly believe that the HRBP needs to be BFF with the CFO. I’ve always felt that way, because the CFO really understands a lot of the operations of the organization, the numbers behind it, hopefully you understand the people part of it. Partner, be that BFF with the CFO, they can really help you understand the business.
Right. I’m certain there’s lots of different books out there, but one in particular that we found on Amazon is “HR: The Business Partner” by Barbara Kenton and Jane Yarnall.
I’ve heard that book is really good. I’ve not read it yet, but I heard it’s really good. And you know, SHRM offers two classes that I know, JoDee, you and I teach, that are wonderful in-person workshops. One is HR Business Partner: Enhance Your Strategic Contributions, which is a two day seminar. And the other is Honing Your Consulting Skills, which I think is also a two day workshop.
Right. And you can find those and more information on those by going to shrm.org/education or follow SHRM Education on Twitter as well.
And then if you just Google “HR Business Partnering,” you’re going to find things on HCI.org, Linkage, PwC, who – a lot of organizations offer HR Business Partner training.
So Susan, we had the listener question this week from Ted in Michigan. He said he listened to our podcast episode number 18 on harassment. Thanks for listening, Ted. And he found the part about how to run an investigation really helpful. “At our company,” says Ted, “we insist that the complainant, witnesses, and the accused read the notes the interviewer takes during an interview and sign and acknowledge they agree with what was noted. It has caused some anxiety, as sometimes the individuals get upset that they don’t believe they had said something I know they said, as I wrote it down word for word, or we spend another hour revisiting all the topics again, or they want to take a copy home and think about it before they sign, and then they don’t, but now they have my notes. What is your advice?”
Well, Ted, first of all, do whatever your labor law counsel suggests to you, because we have found that almost every company has a little different perspective on how they want notes taken during an investigation, what the process is going to be when you conclude your interviews with individuals, so on and so forth. I’ll share with you what I do as I run investigations that has worked effectively for me, really, my entire career. First of all, when I’m in an interview, best practice is to have a second person with you, because it’s good to have another person listening and making sure that you’re not overlooking something or amplifying something that really doesn’t need to be, so I think that’s important. I do take notes. I do encourage the person being interviewed if they’d like to take notes, they’re more than welcome, because I’m not going to be giving that person my notes. If they ever – and I’ve never had it happen to me, but if they said, “I want to see what you just wrote down,” I would show it to them, because I truly am just taking notes to, you know, help me later as I look the data and try to analyze, you know, what I’ve heard. I do not have the individual write out a statement. If they’re a witness, I do not. Sometimes complainants will come to us with written statements. Of course, I’ll accept those. Sometimes I’ve had the accused want to write out their position or their statement. Certainly I’ll accept it, but that is not the modus operandi that I follow. Instead, I do ask specific targeted questions. I start, you know, with the funnel approach, as you heard in our episode, and work down to those specific allegations, and I will make notes throughout the entire proceeding. And I think the person, I make sure that if they’re a witness or the complainant, they know there could be no retaliation if, if there’s any EEO related issues under under scrutiny. And I do ask for confidentiality with a specific purpose, but I don’t have anyone sign notes, nor do I have them sign off of my notes. So please check with your general counsel or whoever advises you on your labor law issues, but I hope that at least my approach is helpful to you.
Sounds good. Thanks for asking Ted.
So, JoDee, in today’s episode, we do have some best practice sharing. We recently asked our listeners, what is your favorite time management technique? We received lots of responses. Thank you all so much. And what I did is I just pulled out some of the ones that we heard most frequently. Why don’t you start us off with the first one, JoDee?
The first one said, look at all the things that you want to get done on a given day and triage based on your priorities. If not getting something done means disappointing your boss, your child, your partner, your colleagues, or your clients, where do you need to focus today? And how can you respectfully but firmly communicate with those who can’t have your attention today? And when will they?
Yeah, that’s really helpful, I think, to let them know, okay, it’s not today, but maybe tomorrow I can get to this. Okay, so the second one we heard a lot of, or heard a lot of similar responses on, is be maniacal about your calendar. Some people color code different types of appointments with levels of urgencies, others had different tricks, but make sure you’re – if it’s not on the calendar, people understand it doesn’t get done.
Right. And speaking of your calendars, someone else said block out the commuting time before and after out of office meetings so you don’t find yourself pressed to arrive on time. I know I’ve done this one before, where I have the, I have the meeting scheduled, but I don’t allow time in between.
And then I’m breathless by the time I get to the meeting. Right?
It’s no way to start. JoDee, I know you use this next technique, and several of our listeners said they do too. Block time on your calendar to attack things that need to get done. Not just the appointments, but real quality thinking time, creating time.
Right. Right. I call them appointments with myself. So, yeah. Some people attack challenges they don’t like doing first and then reward themselves with doing the work they enjoy once they have knocked the unpleasant stuff out. If they don’t, the stuff they don’t like to do doesn’t get done on time. There’s actually a great book on that particular topic from Brian Tracy called “Eat That Frog,” where he says if you eat the frog first thing in the morning, there won’t be anything else worse to do for the rest of the day, or otherwise you spend your whole day thinking about eating the frog and are not productive with the other items.
What good advice. So for more ideas, please listen to The JoyPowered® Workspace Episode Number 14 podcast entitled “Time Management Strategies.” Please continue to share your best practices on time management or any other topic that helps you be more JoyPowered® in your workspace.
So it’s time for in the news. For years, we’ve talked about how recruiters need to think like marketers to target candidates who are the best fit for a job and company. As we strive to be equal opportunity employers, we really do need to pay attention to the surge in news about a practice called microtargeting. One of the exciting components of social media platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc., is that companies can pay the providers to enable their companies to reach users most likely to buy their products, be attracted to them, based on the person’s demographics, likes and dislikes that people have said on social media… really helps marketers understand what preferences individuals might have. Well, the AARP Bulletin in October 2018 really kind of raised a red flag on this, noting that microtargeting lets employers decide which people get to see their online Help Wanted ads. If you don’t match the characteristics the company is looking for, maybe you live too far away, you aren’t in a preferred age group, for example, you never see a job posting. Yuki Noguchi of NPR wrote an article August 16, 2018, entitled “Are Job Ads Targeting Young Workers Violating the Law?” She cited a pending case against T Mobile based on Facebook recruiting advertising and the fact – in fact, there are many other cases that are starting to brew. Noguchi said, in response to an investigation by the Washington State Attorney General into the matter, Facebook signed a legally binding agreement pledging to stop allowing advertisers to exclude people based on race, nationality, or sexual orientation. But this agreement did not prohibit exclusion based on gender and age, and pending and future court cases have yet to be decided. JoDee, I really think that we’re gonna want to watch the changing landscape on this topic as we think through our recruiting strategies in the future.
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