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Whether the business partner can come and close the gap...

The gap between support departments such as HR and 'the business'. A well-known problem in many organizations. Fortunately, there has been a solution for years now, namely the 'business partner'.

So why doesn't the gap seem to be closing at some organizations? Why does it often fail to connect the strategic goals? Debbie wrote a short blog about the crucial element that is often skipped.

The other day I heard, 'Pulling people out of the business for a few hours to think with HR, I find that so annoying. If they would just do what the business needs'.  

This got me thinking, because why is it thought that HR doesn't do what the business needs and why does so much frustration accompany this?

I thought back to my time at Philips and the clients I worked for and could not deny that I had experienced this sentiment before. This was not just about HR but about support departments in general. Support departments feel that they are not valued by the business. At the same time, the business feels that support departments are not doing the things they need to in order to achieve the strategic goals. 

So there seems to be a gap there. And that insight is not new. We have known about the existence of this gap for years, and a solution has even been devised to close it: the business partner structure. In this structure, one creates a link between the two departments, theoretically bringing them closer together and closing the gap.   

But if this is such a well-known solution, why doesn't the gap between support departments and the business seem to be closing in some organizations? Because offering a structure does not mean that people will actually work together. An effective business partner structure requires cooperation between the business and the supporting departments (business partners). This requires more than just structure. It also requires the mindset and skills to effectively deal with the dilemmas and tensions often inherent in a matrix organization.  

This is a switch for the still traditionally organized support departments: no longer a "you ask we serve" attitude but a proactive attitude and to work from the perspective of the business. But the business also has a role to play in actively involving and cooperating with the support departments to provide proactive support. All in all, that can require quite a change from people, and you have to help them with that. 

At the moment, we are helping one of our customers to help their business partners to collaborate better with the business. So do you recognize this in your organization or yourself? Send me a message, and we'll talk further!  

And can't wait: the first step in collaboration could be to start speaking the same language.  

Want to talk about this topic further with Debbie? Feel free to send her an email!

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