Do You Have the Mindset of an HR Rockstar?


If you’ve been in an HR professional in the last 10 years, you’ve been a part of a transition to a new HR Delivery Model.  If you’re like me, you’ve experienced this type of transition with minimal to moderate disruption and you’ve experienced utter chaos.  In both cases, I felt a bit under-prepared for my new responsibilities.  Even when the transition was thoughtful, there was a change management plan, discussions to clarify roles and new ways of working together, I still felt unsure of how to operate in this new environment.  

Feeling unsure in the midst of change is absolutely normal.  But, what’s commonly overlooked in most transitions, is the mindset required to operate differently.  As an HR business partner, I needed a completely new way of thinking to be effective in the new operating model.   This is a sentiment that’s relevant regardless of the HR delivery model used.  These transformations impact the role of the business partner, and this new way of thinking, this mindset shift, is rarely overtly expressed during these transitions.

 If you’re where I was, read on my friend, I’ll share four key components of the Business Partner Mindset needed to make the shift to HR Rockstar in a client facing role. 

 Let’s start with the foundation, a Growth Mindset.  Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?  Because what’s needed in this new operating model is a Growth Mindset.  You must fundamentally believe that building your knowledge, learning from failure, applying new learnings, and rigorously practicing new skills can create better outcomes.  One of the most fitting quotes from Carol Dweck’s “Mindset” is

 “As growth-minded leaders, they start with a belief in human potential and development – both their own and other people’s.  Instead of using the company as a vehicle for their greatness, they use it as an engine of growth-for themselves, the employees, and the company as a whole.”

 This sums up nicely the mindset needed to embark on this new journey as an HR Business Partner.

 Next is an Intellectually Curious Mindset.  There’s a whole new world to explore, to learn, to steep yourself in, and the best guide is a healthy dose of curiosity.  Having a strong desire to know more, learn more, understand the ins and outs, the why’s, what happened, and what’s possible for the business will go a long way to becoming a better business partner.  In this new world order, you must balance your effort.  This means you must shift from solely studying and focusing on HR topics to a balanced approach where you also significantly enrich your understanding of the business. 

The third the Creative Thinker Mindset.  To be in business is to be a problem solver.  With this mindset, you explore options that may be outside the norm as long as they align with the values of the business.  This takes a great deal of courage, openness, and flexibility.  In all cases, the solutions must be relevant for the business.  The Creative Thinker Mindset can be a tough one to shift for HR professionals, particularly since our starting framework has been compliance.   Gone are the days of policing the organization and identifying barriers.  It’s important to be diligent, to ensure the success of the business with standards, AND offer solutions that accelerate growth and create competitive advantages.

Finally and most importantly, you must make the shift to become diabolically focused on the business.  You must have a Business Success Mindset.  In “HR from the Outside In”, Dave Ulrich writes, “if HR professionals are truly to contribute to business performance, then their mindset must center on the goals of the business.”  In practical terms, the Business Success mindset has two critical parts, shared ownership of the outcomes and strong a connection between the people solutions and those business outcomes.  This too can be a difficult shift because the line of sight to business results has not been a bright one in HR over the years.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  The business success mindset is THE THING that will set you apart by helping you contribute more directly to business performance.  When best or promising-talent practices meet business opportunity, it’s a winner!  At every turn, you must link your solutions to business outcomes, and have clarity of the anticipated impact.

There you have it, the four components of the Business Partner Mindset.  If you shift your focus to use these components as the lens through which you view your work, you’re well on your way to HR Rockstar status!

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