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4 Modes for HR Business Partnering

I’m thrilled to have LinkedIn chats with Dave Ulrich and debating the work that he, and we, have done in support of HR people. One thread in the discussions this has provoked has been the reality of HR roles, especially the HRBP, and the tension between being strategic and operational.

The central challenge within the generalist HR role is that both are important. A myriad of unpredictable issues can turn up – performance, grievance, bereavement, mental illness – and you have to ensure that they’re handled promptly, wisely and sensitively.

Your next meeting might be working with business leaders to build the people agenda or work on a strategic programme.

You might even be talking about those two extremes in the same meeting.

HRBPs flex all the time, to adapt. Our matrix clarifies 4 Modes of Business Partnering and helps us to explore the options on our HRBP programmes.


Business Partnering Matrix


The trick is to choose, consciously. All 4 Modes are valid. Probably you’d like to spend more time in the top right quadrant. With some stakeholders, this is a journey that takes time, conversation by conversation.

I’d welcome your thoughts.

Upcoming workshops & webinars

Build your strength and impact as an HR professional for 2023

Date: Contact us for more information

Roundtable discussion: What is strategic business partnering – and how do we ensure it delivers value?

Date: Tuesday 17th October 2023

Build your strength as a HR Business Partner

Date: Thursday 12th October 2023
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