HR business partners (HRBP) combine several domains of HR, including recruitment, performance management, and compensation planning. They are also involved in evaluating employee engagement and creating smooth conflict-resolution channels. If you get a call from your HRBP, it’s natural then to fear that they’re contacting you in their conflict-resolution capacity. Before you start worrying that you’re in trouble, learn a bit more about what they do — and why it’s not always bad news for you.
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A few ways the HRBP can try and gauge the employee morale and get a sense of how the team is functioning, is by setting up focus group discussions, chat sessions, or one-on-one discussions. There doesn’t have to be a clearly set agenda. These meetings are generally to check the pulse of the teams. She may let you know why she wants to meet with you in advance as well, so you don’t have to sweat it out.
Even if she hasn’t, whatever your apprehensions about HR, if you’ve been invited to a meeting, try your best to keep the appointment. Most information shared with HR is treated as confidential, but if your BP does not start your meeting with that disclosure, ask what she would do with the information you share. She may take notes during the meeting. If you do not have anything specific to discuss, you could also use the opportunity to seek clarity on company policies, unclear procedures or methodologies. (Example: “How are salaries decided?”)
It’s good to know your HR person and understand how she approaches various topics. While HR professionals do tend to stick to the letter of the policies, most acknowledge the spirit of the content. So it’s a good idea to understand how your HRBP evaluates things.
Often, there may be questions around how the team is working and your boss’s management style. Through such questions, the HRBP tries to understand what employees think of their team and management. If you are new, she may want to understand your settling-in experience.
Let your manager know about important matters whenever possible, before you consult HR. All matters that impact team performance and influence the business will be discussed with your manager, so you don’t want your boss to be caught unaware.
If you do end up discussing matters with HR first, let your HRBP know that you intend to discuss the matter with your manager at the earliest, and do so. Your HRBP should be your first point of contact only if you know your manager will be unable to help you with your concern or your manager is the concern. Many times, female employees are more comfortable discussing some concerns with a female HR person, if their manager is male, and vice versa.
Good managers try to make sure all employee concerns and needs are taken care of, but it is not always possible to do so. While your manager should be your first point of contact for your concerns, your HRBP could be a great source for resolution.
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