HR Business Partner Development
Dave Ulrich in Practice
How can organization can professionalize HR while close to business.

by Judith Kölblinger and Doris Schäfer

Many HR departments have introduced Dave Ulrich’s model in the last few years and have successfully implemented the role of the Business Partner. Business Partners have often shown high commitment in gaining a good reputation with their corresponding business departments and have institutionalized their position. But the question of how Business Partners can live up to their full potential as strategic agents and business consultants, remains difficult to answer.

The role of Business Partner requires an extensive set of skills – ranging from competences in negotiation, consulting and micro politics, including in-depth knowledge of the business logic of the departments, to substantial general HR know-how.
Additionally, the role of Business Partner is demanding for the organization as well. It is linked to departments with different ways of working, e.g. process-oriented services, expert-driven Competence Centers, strategic planning of HR management, performance- and cost targets of different departments. Business Partners must therefore balance the HR perspective with the department’s mandate for consultation.

For the model to succeed, the organization needs a strong, aligned and reliable Business Partner team. It has to promote a clear value proposition and establish agile links to the relevant stakeholder-groups. With this curriculum, we offer such a professionalization: tailor-made for your organization in co-creation with your Business Partners. Over a period of six to eight months, we focus on the advancement of critical competencies in different learning modules: establishing an aligned Business Partner Team, positioning the role of the Business Partner in the organization, developing effective processes with the actual contact persons from the departments, services and management. The effectiveness of Business Partners is externally evaluated during that period. We view the curriculum as a qualification program with impact. 


Understanding the team and the role
  • Developing collaboration and a joint understanding of the role „HR Business Partner“
  • Integrating and using the resources of the team (change-expertise, experience in the corporation, etc.)
  • HR Business Partner have a common understanding and a shared repertoire of methods
  • Business Partners are anchored in their role and function and have developed services and settings and tried them in pilot-projects.
  • The business side as well as the HR side are supported efficiently by HR Business Partners focusing on relevant tasks and projects. 

Micro-politics and strategic positioning
  • Developing a repertoire for being able to work at eye level with clients.
  • Improving micro-politics competencies in a sense of becoming effective in the organization while keeping integrity, or rather impartiality and solution-orientation.
  • Strong impact through pilot projects parallel to the curriculum, in which Business Partners anchor their role and function with the departments.

Practice and tools
  • On-the-job learning and transfer (case studies, peer consultation, working on current client-situations).
  • Develop common tools and check-lists. The HR Business Partners receive very concrete, usable tools for their work.

Your Situation – You Are
  • You have re-designed your HR organization according to the model of Dave Ulrich – or are in the process of doing so.
  • It is now about improving the efficiency of the Business Partners, about positioning HR closer to the business and about sharpening the role of Business Partners.
  • The team of Business Partners has to become a stronger network and needs to act more aligned. The individual know-how needs to become visible; know-how exchange and cooperation have to be ensured.

Your benefits
  • By developing the HR Business Partners, you strengthen your HR organization and your business.
  • Work on current challenges of your organizational unit as well as on the personal development of the Business Partners.
  • Specification of strategies how Business Partners can invigorate themselves and their organization in the situation at hand.
  • Ideas and momentum for your work and your practice: innovative concepts and interventions for professional HR units as well as key qualifications like change management, sparring, coaching, mediation, facilitation and clarifying contracts.
  • The Business Partners benefit from personal feedback and lively exchanges with colleagues.

Objectives of Individual Modules

Individual interviews to clarify areas for development and to clarify the situation of business partners in the company, to define challenges for the business, and to concretize the expectations towards the curriculum.
Presentation of interview results and customizing of the curriculum in line with the actual needs of the organization.

Kick-off workshop
This day is all about the objectives of the program. We reflect with you on the results of the interviews and on the process of the program development. We want to establish a sound working- and learning-relationship, so that all of your topics and questions can be worked on.
We agree on steps to be taken until the next module.

Module 1: on the way to business partnership
The role of the business partner is the central topic of module 1. We look at requirements, experiences and questions. We learn more about the cooperating departments in which your HR Business Partner team wants to become effective and therefore about the context of your work. In these three days, you will also learn about contract clarification. Coaching and sparring, as well as peer consultation are methods we will be working with. We will focus on an actual case of contract clarification with a line-manager. 

Module 2: HR-services as agile link
The new structure of HR-services is the main part of Module 2. We work on your topics as Business Partners that function as a bridge between HR-services and line-managers. The organization of your administrative tasks is also a topic of this module. We are also collecting questions that will become part of the Learning Journey in Module 3. To prepare this journey, we will suggest companies to be visited and brainstorm about further options.

Module 3: Learning Journey
This module deals with field experiences in implementing the HR-Business-Partner model and the challenges that comparable companies are facing. We will be visiting selected companies. In this module, we will use methods to grasp the dynamics of a system in a quick way (system diagnosis). If desired, we will also introduce an instrument for people diagnosis.

Module 4: Competence Center (optional module)
 How can Competence Centers support the business strategically? (Compensation & Benefits, Organization & People, Strategy & Commitment, Labor Law) Where to define new rules?) HR general know-how

Module 5: High impact workshop with Barbara Heitger
The core of Module 5 is a high-impact workshop that focuses on the further development of the role of Business Partner. Topics include: HR Business Partner as internal consultants, influence without formal/hierarchical power/micro-politics, and strategic positioning of the organizational unit in the overall company. The workshop can be held in cooperation with the HR Management.

Closing: "Experts that practice"
As a wrap-up of the five modules, we work on personal lessons learned and critical points for the transfer into day-to-day practice. Topics (among others) are: fine-tuning of the individual portfolio, perspectives on the cooperation of the Business Partners, and planning supervision groups and their key aspects for substainable implementation.


You can book this as an inhouse program. Customized offers in clarification with your specific requirements. Modules can be booked individually.

Contact & Registration
Tel.: +43 1 4093646