Welcome to the Elysian Blog. Find a selection of insights to enhance your learning and support your business strategy from top industry experts


Fly on the wall – A more strategic approach to HR

Inside the October HR Strategic Positioning Event

Paul Tuck SPE

October saw our 6th Elysian Executive HR Strategic Positioning Event being held in Bristol with HR and OD leaders from financial industries, public services, national rail, retail, global manufacturing and charitable trusts all signing up for a seat at the table. If you have missed out on the chance to join one of these exclusive sessions or you’re wondering what all the excitement is about then wonder no more, as this ‘fly on the wall insight’ offers a glimpse at the key discussions, signposts thinking and shares light bulb moments from the latest event.

Expertly guided by Elysian’s Paul Tuck, delegates considered themselves against the role description of a Strategic HR Business Partner. Through the discussions all delegates reached the conclusion that, in order to gain, or remain at, a seat at the top table of their organisation, they need to think, act and speak differently. Here are their insights:

Key points to use before you lose

First and foremost, you must understand your business. The primary takeaway for participants was that in order to succeed in the business you have to get comfortable and fluent with the business data and strategic planning processes and thinking. For HR leaders this means getting deeply curious about all aspects of the organisations strategy, not just the people elements. Get to know the strategic direction, financials, organisational targets and potential pitfalls to achieving business success. If you don’t truly understand what your business is looking to accomplish how can you hope to be a key player in manifesting success? Your CFO, CEO, COO all know this stuff inside out, so you need to know it to have any chance at being brought in on key strategic decision making conversations.

Next, get really clear on your bottom line contribution to business success. This means linking financial measures to your departmental activities and staffing resources. Get comfortable with and clearly define how much of the business’s financial bottom line you are responsible for. Understanding and utilising this kind of data transforms topics that are often thought of as soft skills or a nice to haves (e.g. training, recruitment, succession planning, leadership and so on) into critical issues for business success.

Presenting your data to the board in this way, within the context of the organisational strategy, with financial data and business relevant measures, essentially speaking the language of the board, enables a new type of business conversation to emerge. In this scenario HR are firmly positioned and appropriately knowledgeable to showcase how they can

Build the capabilities an organization needs in the marketplace (Ulrich)


Finally, HR leaders need to get clear on their value proposition. Start with the end in mind and work backwards considering costs and revenue, people (productivity, engagement, competence etc), operations (policies, services, processes etc), organisational design (structure, recruitment, leadership etc) and linking the whole piece ultimately to the organisation’s strategic vision. Working backwards in this way means that goals are aligned, systems and processes aid flow and the organisational changes are made in order to reduce friction. It becomes clear how each element is connected and as a result a holistic “whole system” perspective can be gained.

Buzzing with potential

During our seminar, delegates were sharing ideas of what could be considered a relevant HR data measure in their sectors, discussing their thinking towards aspects of their existing strategies, exploring ways their internal networks could support their new curiosity and desire for business understanding and throwing up “what if” challenges to Paul in order to better grasp the enormity of the potential offered through this new mindset and approach.

Experience it first hand

This half day seminar offers you a challenging exploration into what it means to truly become a Strategic HR Business Partner within the organisation. If you fancy the chance of expanding your strategic thinking and your business network over conversation and a light lunch, then get in touch and we will contact you about our future SPE events:

• HR Strategic Positioning

• Employee Engagement Strategic Positioning

Dates for 2017 will be announced shortly


If you want to read more about what it means to become a HR Business Partner, then you might be interested in these additional articles:

The Key to Strategic HR: You Must Be a Strong, Capable Business Partner

Why HR Still Isn’t a Strategic Partner – Harvard Business Review

The Difference Between an HR Business Partner & Just HR

Author: Kerry Bellamy, Elysian Training

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: