How to successfully Business Partner Miriam Luke

Miriam Luke - July 2017

Many organisations are aware of WHAT they want their employees to start doing as business partners and the business benefits are clear. Our research says that leaders need help and a specific approach to successfully develop the HOW of business partnering.

Building successful partnerships is a major part of how we lead our people. Effective business partnering involves successfully initiating a partnership and then working together to deliver outcomes that work for the business. Balancing work on the business relationship and delivering outcomes that are win-win can be challenging.

Being an effective business partner requires conscious thought and action. Achieving results as well as ensuring the relationship works is crucial to productive business partnerships.

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The Growing Importance of Business Partnering in Finance

The shift to business partnering is an important focus for any finance function. The traditional role of being the gatekeeper of the business finances has shifted. Finance is expected to be an expert in finance as well as a partner to the business, adding financial wisdom to the commercial strategy and solutions. The automation of financial reporting through digitization means that backwards reporting of profit and loss is expected to be 'business as usual'. The value-add is providing the forward looking financial forecasting and narrative on commercial options with a commercial strategy in mind. This requires finance professionals to partner with the business and to think and facilitate commercially - it is a different skillset from the traditional finance role.

What are organisations doing about this? Are they developing the skills internally or recruiting externally? What do finance leaders worry about and what can organisations do about this?

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How to meet the demand for more Business Partners

It is a challenging market to recruit for those with the experience and skills of business partnering; finance professionals that are effective business partners are gold dust. An alternative solution is to assess the current workforce and to invest in those who would be a good fit to the business partner role. To do this effectively and objectively requires businesses to identify those who have a good match of experience, cognitive ability, technical knowledge, personality and motivation for the role. This requires a comprehensive diagnostic approach using personality and motivational preferences (using on line psychometric tests) to establish the preference a person has for the role and objective behavioural interviewing and cognitive ability to establish the behavioural and mental capacity to succeed in the role. Once the right population of people is identified and engaged then providing them with the right balance of experiential on the job learning opportunities and developmental input along with coaching is one of the most effective solutions.

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Our Approach

Getfeedback's unique behavioural approach and blend of psychometrics can help to identify those who could make great business partners and our specifically designed business partnering development approach then focusses on developing the skills and behaviours in four key areas: how to build trust; how to influence; how to challenge by taking different approaches with different people in different situations and, how to develop strategic thinking to add real financial leadership in the board room. These four areas of capability are the foundation of how to build strong relationships with key stakeholders and how to contribute to and collaborate with these stakeholders.

Our approach has been developed in collaboration with business partners who are working as successful strategic partners within high performing finance functions. We interviewed a number of successful finance leaders to develop our approach to identifying and developing finance professionals as high performing business partners. Finance professionals with a need to be brilliant business partners told us that they wanted to understand WHAT to do as well as HOW to do it .

For more information contact: Miriam Luke -