Business Partnering – New contribution or change of name? (Sept 2011) Written by Simon Court & Sarah Rose


We are indebted to those who took part in our research Business Partnernew contribution or simply a change of name? Their frankness, invaluable insight and willingness to share their experience leading 21st Century business functions has shone a bright light into today’s corporate function.

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The analysis of the in-depth interviews has thrown up a number of challenges for function heads in all sizes and types of businesses.

For many, the job title has changed, but the functional mindset has not.  But business partnering is not a role; it is a way of working based on shared ownership of an organisation’s challenges.

So, the most critical shift required is not one of structure, but one of mindset, with respondents reporting that the ability to think in terms of business contribution, not business support, is what is required to be a true business partner.

Partnership means different things to different people – a clear, shared definition built in collaboration with those you hope to partner with is essential.

Our research shows that the nature and detail of the partnership is often ignored, whilst functions focus on defining roles and organisation structures. The result is a pervasion of the “support function” mentality rather than the development of effective relationships based on shared goals, respect and a valued equal contribution.

Business partners must take accountability for business performance. Credible partnership relies on shared accountability for performance and yet there is still a marked reluctance among some functions to rise to this challenge.

Enlightened individuals recognise the value of true business partnership and are making significant progress through their, often passionate, contribution to driving organisational performance.

That said, even these leading lights concede that true business partnership has some way to go and for a minority of the respondents the model is yet to be embedded in any significant way.

Ultimately effective business partnership means a congruence of values, shared challenges, mutual accountability and shared responsibilities. As yet there is no organisational nirvana, but there are a growing number of courageous individuals who are grasping the true meaning of this much debated approach.

The full article can be downloaded here – as well as this shortened version, which was published in HR Magazine Online.

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