HRBP Kindness

Moving towards Partnership and away from Commodity

Gary A. DePaul, PhD (he/him/his)


The author owns the image publishing rights

Rekia, the CIO and your business partner (BP), wants you to change to the CIO Retreat. In the morning, she wants you to facilitate communication training. Attendees will be direct reports and their direct reports — 37 VPs and senior directors. What do you do?

As HRBPs, we are tempted to please. When we deliver what is asked, we think we will have earned our place with the BP. Doing so feels good unless we disagree or question the request. When we proceed with the questionable request, we slowly slip away from having a partnership to being more of a commodity.

Chart that shows “time”​ as the x-axis. At the top of the y-axis states “Partnership”​ and at the bottom, “Commodity.”​ Graphed are two lines. For the period of the first six months with a new BP, the two lines dip towards Commodity. After that, one line shifts towards Partnership but the other continues towards Commodity.
Image created by the author

The HRBP role isn’t to appease BPs like Rekia and do what is asked without question. That is the path towards being a commodity and offering a reduced value. What results is a minimal contribution towards achieving business goals. The BP doesn’t need you if you fail to bring perspective and insight.

A genuine partnership begins with raising a BP’s awareness by asking powerful questions to keep the BP focused on achieving business needs.