I picked up the book, How to be a True Business Partner” by Nigel Harrison and had it read within hours. What a great and easy read!  I recall my first thought upon finishing it was, “I wish I had had this book 10 years ago.” My second thought being, “Oh my goodness, I have to share this book with my HR colleagues.” The beauty of the book and its material is that it is applicable regardless of where one is on their journey of being a business partner. I continue to reference it, discuss it, and use it when I mentor and coach individuals in the HR profession.   I truly believe this book is applicable regardless of what one’s job title is, (i.e. Sales, HR, etc.) if you are in the business of building relationships to design and implement a solution, this book is definitely for you.  

There were several key learning messages.  I especially enjoyed the section on defining what it meant to be a business partner. I use the skills and self assessment quiz to help myself as well as others in developing the discussed crucial skill sets.

I find the 7-step process and checklist very valuable in identifying problems to ensure powerful solutions are aligned with the root cause, as well as with organizational objectives. That said, in my opinion, it takes a particular kind of organizational culture to truly support powerful solutions based upon the content in the book. For example, if leadership fundamentally operates in a maverick and lack of transparency mode, then it is going to create hurdles for communication as well as enlisting help.  Additionally, if a culture is fixed on short-term vs. long-term and doesn’t share information, it will be incredibly difficult for an HRBP to truly be as effective in building trust and rapport to gain critical information around identifying what the problem is, and who is involved, in order to look at causes and potential solutions.

As an MBTI® practitioner, I was delighted to see the author reference the value on being able to type watch and considerations of acquiring of information and alignment of decision making. I couldn’t agree more with the remarks, “If you are more aware of your preference you are more likely to be sensitive to the preferences of others.” I have the same opinion that with such insight, it makes one a stronger business partner, as one is able to adapt one’s style to work more effectively with others. The section on, Facing up to the Problem, was especially intriguing to me. The author’s knowledge and expertise in psychology shared the relevance in business with relationships and performance.

After reading the book, I had many personal reflections and ideas for myself, clients, and stakeholders. In short, I recommend this book.  As an HR professional, I do reference it as truly being an HR practitioner’s book.


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