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Guest Post: Don’t Get Too Close

Janine N. Truitt is an HR enthusiast based in Long Island, NY. Her experience spans the Healthcare to Scientific industries and has led her to her current role as a Senior Human Resources Representative for Brookhaven National Laboratory.  Her message today is consistent with many I’ve sent before: we walk a fine line in this crazy profession. And we shouldn’t take it lightly. Have a read. And when you’re done, get to know Janine better by connecting with her on LinkedIn, following her on Twitter, and checking her own blog out.

David Ulrich, long-time HR pundit and author of Human Resources Champions (1997) states that “The ultimate test of HR and leadership is value created.” Enter the HR Business Partner. Sure, it’s an old and tired phrase. It has even become cliché – some actually cringe when they hear it. No matter. Call it what you will…it’s still crucial to value creation.

It is essentially the HR Business Partner’s role to communicate, champion, and align HR’s practices, policies, and programs to any number of business imperatives. As simple as that may sound on paper, it is an exercise fraught with peril. And here’s where it gets particularly diceyHR Business Partners can become so closely aligned to the business that they fail to be good stewards of the company’s greater good.

One of HR’s fundamental roles is to remain objective and to take appropriate action on behalf of the company…irrespective of the action’s popularity with an individual(s). When HR and the business leaders are too closely partnered that “voice of reason” becomes garbled; we have trouble hearing it and we run the risk of alienating our one and only true constituent – The Company as a Whole. Should we relish in the fact that leadership has finally allowed us that illusive seat at the table (I know, another old and tired expression)? Of course. But now that we’re there, we have to be very careful about how we use our newfound influence.

HR’s real value is created when it holds its ground toward the best of all possible outcomes for the organization…even when that outcome ticks a bunch of people off in the process. This springs from true partnership with the business – not some flippant attitude toward the responsibility with which the “Business Partner” title comes. The mere implementation of the partnership model doesn’t ensure HR’s success. And while no longer novel, it should still be revered. Don’t get too close.

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