What is an HR Business Partner?

An HR Business Partner is a professional who is highly experienced in human resources and works with the senior leadership of an organisation to create an HR agenda that aligns and supports the company’s goals. They manage and plan talent and help to attain any organisational goals. The very concept of HR business partnering can be traced back to the 1990s, where Dave Ulrich outlined a model of organising HR in his book “HR Champions”. Here, he stated the four key roles of an HR business partner; to be a strategic planner, a change agent, an employee champion and an administrative expert.  Whilst of course this may not apply perfectly to its modern role, after all it has been nearly 30 years since his book was published, the main focus of this job can still be boiled down to his list.

What does an HR Business Partner do? 

These people work alongside managers, teams and stakeholders to curate people and organisation capability whilst also designing people strategies and activities.  They ensure that the HR policies and procedures match the needs and goals of the organisation and those in leadership positions. Their job does not centre on administration or handling policy wording – instead they focus on the bigger picture, by directing the goals of the human resources team, and producing HR strategies. Most importantly, these HR strategies must fit the wider business strategy.

Most commonly, they are aligned to a specific area of the business and work alongside this area to execute a business strategy from a people perspective. To successfully work in this field, one must have sincere relationships with other people in their business area, as well as other teams in the company. Not only that, but they must have hard evidence to make accurate, well-informed decisions (such as data or metrics).

Common tasks that HR Business Partners carry out may include:

  • Giving advice on people practices (for example, succession planning)
  • Building relationships with and influencing those working in the business
  • Meeting key stakeholders to address any people challenges they are facing
  • Coaching key stakeholders to increase business efficiency and achieve business goals.

What is the definition of Business Partner? 

A business partner is a commercial entity with which another commercial entity has an alliance. These two parties could be individuals who chose to work alongside one another to create a business or may be separate teams/companies who have chosen to work together and cooperate for a shared goal.

What’s the difference between an HR Business Partner and an HR Manager? 

These are distinctly different roles and each specialises in different methods of running human resources within an organisation.

An HR Manager’s job in general, centres around developing policies and implementing procedures. They are also responsible for overseeing systems that include recruiting, hiring, processing payroll and system administration to name a few. They also manage the HR department.

Conversely, in general, an HR Business Partner does not take the same administrative tasks over a department, and instead focus their time on working alongside the organisation’s senior leadership team and department managers to optimise and guide company strategy. HR Business Partners are still heavily involved in the HR department, they just don’t take on the same administrative tasks that an HR manager may be involved in. Instead, they help to form HR strategies and initiatives which will have an impact on the entire organisation.

Submit an enquiry via our online form today to find out how we can help your business, or call 07771 642 182 to book a 30 minute consultation with Karen directly.


Ways to turn increased responsibilities at work into an opportunity for yourself

Taking on even more responsibility at work may sound like daunting at first.  However, there are a vast array of benefits, most notably, that it can help accelerate progress in your career. Why would you not want to prove to your employer and peers how dependable and capable you are?

Taking more responsibilities is the perfect way to grow your current skillset and even achieve goals that would usually be above your grade.  Meaning that when it’s time for promotions or bonuses you will be first in line.  After all, you will have the appropriate experience to take on a bigger role, unlike those who didn’t take up the offer of the extra responsibility at work.

How to be given increased responsibilities?

It’s all good and well knowing how beneficial additional responsibilities will aid your career, however you firstly need to be given them. It’s much easier than you may think – below we have outlined some easy tips to help get you started.

  1. Don’t wait to be asked

Take the initiative!  Perhaps you can directly approach your boss and ask if there are any extra projects that you can be a part of.  Create an open dialogue and share how you’re feeling about your career, your progress, and your part in the company’s future.  More often than not, they will be happy to designate extra work to you if they feel as though you’re up for it.  Keep in mind the skills you already have that can be developed upon and ask to get more involved in those specific areas.

  1. Always be reliable

Be a steady reliable figure in your team.  Create a relationship of trust – by being punctual and complete all your work to a high standard and be willing to help with extra.  If your peers are not able to keep up with their present workload you could even volunteer to help them out or offer some valuable input (without trying to take the credit for yourself!). These good deeds will show how dependable you are to everyone you work with, meaning that you’ll be a great candidate for promotion and additionally the team will respect your leadership once you reach your dream position.

  1. Always be looking to learn more 

In your leisure time, select an area that nobody in your team has great expertise in, yet would be a valuable asset to the workplace.  By investing time into this topic, you will become more knowledgeable than your peers, meaning that the team will begin to rely on you for feedback or help in anything in that area, thus gaining yourself a new responsibility and making yourself an invaluable member.

  1. Network! 

Having valuable connections will always lead to increased opportunities.  Every time you take on a new project you may end up working with a new, diverse array of people, all of whom will be able to contribute to your career with either new knowledge or information, or about roles that you may be able to apply for.  Having a vast professional network is crucial to going up the ranks in a company, and these new people may be able to designate extra responsibilities to you too.

But how can these responsibilities convert into opportunity? 

Having more responsibilities inevitably means spending more time with your boss, especially if you’re working on projects crucial to them. Being around them in meetings, briefings or consulting them about your progress will allow you to learn from their experience, making yourself even more capable, and build a better bond with them. When this happens, it should be no problem for you to ask for the promotion you want as you’ve adeptly proven how you can handle all your current tasks and are ready for more. Ultimately, you have nothing to lose!  It’s better to go for it than wallow in what-ifs and later regret that your career hasn’t developed the way that you wanted.

Submit an enquiry via our online form today to find out how we can help your business, or call 07771 642 182 to book a 30 minute consultation with Karen directly.


Redundancy: What employers need to know

Enduring a redundancy process can no doubt be taxing for everyone involved; ensuring that you’ve faithfully followed the law and also the emotional aspect of telling your employee/s the news.  However, luckily for you we have made a brief summary of the most important information that can help you through these trying times.

Why make someone redundant? 

Redundancy primarily occurs when a business is either closing (perhaps to relocate) or when the employees needed for a specific role are no longer needed or being reduced.  Cutting down on the number of employees can save costs and reduce overheads for employers if there are any financial issues.  After all employees are often one of the biggest expenses a company has. Secondly, the company may need to be restructured if it has outgrown its original design – perhaps people need to be moved around (redeployment) or some roles are just not needed at all (redundancy).

How does the process work? 

Redundancy should only happen once you are certain that there are no other options.

Have you…

  • Done a cost review?
  • Investigated as to whether reducing hours or pay would work?
  • Considered if any extras can be cut, such as bonuses or benefits?

If even after this, there appears no viable solution then you’ll need to read the steps below on how to fairly and correctly execute a redundancy process.

  1. What are your reasons? 

It’s vital to know why you have come to the decision to make roles redundant so that this can be communicated to staff.

  1. Which roles are being made redundant?

Once you decide which jobs are no longer needed you will have created a group of people at risk of redundancy. This could include multiple people if many of your employees do similar tasks, or even just one person if they have a unique, standalone position. If you have a number of people who do the same or similar roles, they will need to be put into a selection pool.

  1. Tell the people who are at risk of redundancy 

Depending on the numbers involved, this can sometimes be done in a group meeting – here, you must consult those affected about their job either being no longer required or changed. This gives the affected employees a chance to propose any changes that may influence your decision.

  1. Create selection criteria

If you need less of a particular role you will need to design selection criteria.  This is a set of criteria where you set out the skills and behaviours needed in the roles that will remain. You will score individuals against each of the criteria set.  This will offer objective reasoning behind the decision on who will be kept and who will be let go.

  1. Individual consultation meetings 

You must now hold one-on-one meetings with those whose jobs are at risk of redundancy.  These meetings are extremely sensitive and can be very emotional and difficult for an employee to take in what is happening.  It is essential to give sufficient time for an affected employee to provide feedback on the selection criteria, how they feel about the decision and to discuss alternative roles if appropriate.  Ultimately, you will provide an outcome letter which addresses any points made by the employee in their meeting and invite them to their next consultation.

  1. Second consultation meetings

This is your opportunity to let your employee know how they scored (if they want to know) and if they have any comments on the decision to select their role for redundancy.  Whilst they may want to know how everyone else scored in their selection pool, you cannot disclose this information.  This consultation meeting must be formally followed up in writing, again answering any feedback and points raised and inviting them to a final consultation meeting.

  1. Are there alternatives? 

Check if your company has any role vacancies that may be a suitable match for those being made redundant – this means that the skills required are similar to their current position.  Provide as much information as you can about these roles to your at risk staff.  Give them the opportunity to apply if they wish.  Some roles may be deemed “suitable alternative employment” and some may not be deemed suitable alternatives, i.e. seen to be more junior, require a lot of additional training, have different shifts or hours.

  1. Final consultation

At this stage you can give your staff a notice of redundancy.  As all points raised should have been thoroughly talked through at the earlier stages, you should only need to briefly recap the previous discussions and reasoning before issuing a notice of redundancy.  This must be confirmed in writing, including any leaving arrangements, the redundancy terms, payment schedules and the right to appeal.

  1. Right to appeal

This is a necessity to show that this has been a fair process throughout.  If an appeal is raised, a manager uninvolved in the process should hear the appeal to ensure objectivity.

Submit an enquiry via our online form today to find out how we can help your business, or call 07771 642 182 to book a 30 minute consultation with Karen directly.


Challenging conversations and how to manage them

It’s first thing on a Monday morning and there is already an assault of complaints coming in: Jim hasn’t completed last week’s work; Mary misprinted all the brochures; and worst of all, the staff kitchen is completely unstocked.  Understandably, your first instinct may be to go and give everyone a piece of your mind.  However, it’s really important in these scenarios to know how to delicately, yet effectively, deal with workplace issues, in a way that solves your issues but also doesn’t anger your employees – after all, unhappy workers are inefficient ones. Knowing how to have challenging conversations can lead to attendance, performance and productivity increasing.

If you currently feel ill-equipped for this, fear not, as we have some useful advice for you below.

What is a challenging conversation? 

A challenging conversation is any conversation where the primary subject matter may evoke strong, potentially unpredictable, or uncontrollable emotions. Due to this, it’s essential to bring these discussions up in a sensitive manner.

Some examples of challenging conversation topics could be:

  • Underperforming at work
  • Dealing with office disputes/investigating grievances
  • Handling clashing personalities
  • Comforting employees after bad news, e.g. if they are about to be made redundant
  • Addressing personal problems that may be affecting work performance.

These sorts of conversations are best had in a more quiet, intimate environment, usually one-on-one, to prevent the employee feeling publicly embarrassed.

Why have a challenging conversation?

From a surface level, it may seem easier to let small mistakes go unmentioned, however, in the long-term it can have some detrimental effects.  For example, your employee will carry on believing that there is no problem and continue to harm the productivity of your company – after all, if they’re not told, how will they know they’re doing anything wrong!  It also denies your employee the opportunity to fix their errors and improve, for if they don’t put things right (and you say nothing) this could set a bad example to everybody else and either damage morale or make everyone on the team think that this form of behaviour is acceptable.

Tips on how to manage a challenge conversation:

  • Tackle the issue the moment you spot it. Don’t wait for it to fester and spiral out of control before you have a word.  If you wait, the problem will only become more complicated and deep-rooted, making your job even harder.
  • Talk in a quiet place, just you and whoever is directly involved. You don’t want your employee to feel as though they are being made a public spectacle of – this will help minimise any feelings of embarrassment/disappointment/anger.
  • Have an open line of communication with your staff and team.  Where they will feel comfortable raising issues or concerns.
  • Listen to employee representatives to gauge how your staff are reacting to the issue – this can help gauge the severity of your conversation
  • Have a clear plan for your conversation.  If you’re discussing a difficult topic there’s nothing worse than aimlessly talking around the issue and ultimately your employee having no idea what it is you are concerned about.  Have a clear idea of your purpose, for example “what’s the challenge at hand” and “how it can be resolved”.
  • Manage your own emotions.  Whilst these sorts of talks can definitely be distressing to both parties, as a figure of authority and calm.  It is vital to keep your cool even if your employee isn’t.
  • Stay open-minded!  Perhaps your staff has a legitimate reason for a dip in performance recently, such as troubling personal issues (maybe they’re going through a divorce or a family member has passed away).  Give them a chance to explain their side of the story and present yours as well, and from there a mutual, amicable solution can be found.

Submit an enquiry via our online form today to find out how we can help your business, or call 07771 642 182 to book a 30 minute consultation with Karen directly.


What is the GROW Model?

The GROW model is an incredibly useful and commonly used goal-setting and problem-solving model which first came about in the UK, during the 1980s and 1990s. It provides a basic framework that can be used in mentoring and coaching sessions.

What does GROW even mean?

The acronym stands for:

  • Goal
  • Reality
  • Options
  • Way Forward


Within this first stage of the model, the goal is the main focus, and everything in this stage is orientated around ensuring the client will get to where they want to be. It’s expected that a specific topic will be discussed between the mentor/coach and the mentee/client. From this, it’s vital that exact objectives and end results are set – these may be both long and short term. It’s also crucial for these goals to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

For example, in the context of weight loss, it would be useless to set a goal like “I want to look slim” or “I want to lose 15 kilos by next week”. Instead, something like “I want to lose 10 kilos in 3 months and retain that weight” provides a specific short and a long term goal, whilst being realistic and quantifiable. Most importantly positive and inspirational to the client, acting as an attainable challenge that will sensibly push them.

Within this goal setting stage, the coach may ask a variety of questions, such as

  • ‘What are you aiming for?’
  • ‘How would you feel once this goal is achieved?’
  • ‘How will your life be different then from now?’


Here, the mentor and client shall examine the present reality of the client, using specialist techniques. This could start by the client assessing their current situation by themselves, before the mentor steps in to provide more specific advice on the scenario at hand. The mentor should be looking to identify their client’s potential, rather than focusing on any personal problems.

Back to our previous example of weight loss, questions that the mentor may ask could be, “What did you do differently when you’ve successfully lost weight in the past?”, “between the times when you’ve kept weight off versus putting it back on again, what was different?”

More broad questions should be able to identify any hurdles that may occur on their path to improvement and accurately determine how far they are from the end goal.


At this point both the mentor and mentee need to figure out how to make this plan achievable. There will naturally be an array of options available as to how the client will be able to conquer any of the current issues laid out in the Reality section. The mentor should endeavour to initially have the client dominate the conversation, and invite them to make a range of suggestions, which can then be discussed. It is vital for the mentor to be cautious and sensitive when offering their own ideas, and ensure that it is aligned with the client’s own capabilities.


We have arrived at the final stage! The Options discussed now need to be converted into actionable steps and strategies which will deliver the client to their goal. A plan will be drawn up by the mentor, which should include specific guidelines and times in order to increase the manageability of this plan, making it more likely for the client to succeed. With any personal plan retaining flexibility is vital, if the client experiences any negative events, the plan should not make them feel defeated or disheartened.

An example question that a coach may ask could include, “what actions will you take to achieve your goals?”. Drawing us back to our weight loss scenario, those actions could include making a daily diet plan or shopping list, remembering to include celebration on achievement at certain points.

Submit an enquiry via our online form today to find out how we can help your business, or call 07771 642 182 to book a 30 minute consultation with Karen directly.


Why are probation reviews so important for your new-starters?

Despite the recruitment process being both long and thorough, it is not yet a perfect art. It is easy for someone to vastly oversell themselves in an interview (companies too for that matter!) and once employed reveal a number of unexpected hitches, such as lack of punctuality, underperforming or not being a fit for the company culture.

Thankfully, probation periods and reviews are a move to resolve this issue. Within this probation framework, you are able to tell whether your new starter truly has the skillset that they promised and likewise the new starter can assess if this is the right role and company for them. For those who do make it, probation reviews will provide valuable insight into performance, training needs, and give timely feedback so that your new employee understands the expectations of their new role and company.

What is a probation review?

This is a meeting in which you and your new starter properly assess their progress in the new role, whether they have achieved any targets set, completed training requirements and received the support needed to be successful.

What’s a probation period?

It is essentially a trial period for new employees, which usually last three or six months, and in some circumstances can be extended by a further 3 months. Within the probation period they may be exempt from certain benefits that other workers may have, such as company sick pay.  Additionally, if a new employee doesn’t complete the probation period successfully, they may be let go with a short notice period.  Making it very useful to companies if a new starter is quickly proving to be ineffective.

What can happen in a probation review? 

There are three possible outcomes on completion of a probation period:

  • Dismissal; if their performance has been highly unsatisfactory you will have no choice but to let them go.  This must be confirmed in writing and providing the statutory notice period and pay.
  • Extend the probationary period; if there have been any criteria that the employee has not met, or you believe they need a bit more time before reaching the standard your company expects, you will be able to extend their probation for an additional 3 months. Of course, this must be confirmed in writing with the reason, the new probation period end date, review dates, and a set of goals for the new starter to strive towards.
  • Success! They have completed this period as expected and confirmation of this should be confirmed in writing.

Who do probation reviews benefit? 

Probation reviews can be hugely helpful to both employer and new employee. They are a vital method in motivating your workers to work on their performance by having a direct line of communication, and it ensures that they do not get lost and overwhelmed when starting a new job.  We all know that it can be very nerve-wracking!  It can be encouraging to make sure that both of you are on the same page and working towards the same goals. From an employer’s perspective, it is crucial to understand the strengths and weaknesses of all your workers, and these reviews can help lay them out in black and white, and give constructive feedback based upon this.

There are a variety of issues that may be brought up within a review, and it’s the perfect chance to have an open discussion; whether it’s your new starters’ concerns or yours. For example, perhaps they mesh perfectly with the workplace culture and are enjoying their job, however the commute is simply too much. Potentially this could be resolved looking at whether flexible working hours or occasionally working from home is a viable option. Or, if you feel as though they’re underperforming a clear set of goals and appropriate support can be outlined so they have a target to strive towards.

Submit an enquiry via our online form today to find out how we can help your business, or call 07771 642 182 to book a 30 minute consultation with Karen directly.

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