Biggest Mistakes HR Managers Make In Business-partner Relationships

June 1, 1995
Because human resources professionals are often charting new territory when they embark on the journey to become better business partners, they often make mistakes. Here are the five most common mistakes to avoid when trying to build relationships and establish credibility as an internal consultant to your business compatriots.

  1. Pushing your own agenda.
    Internal consultants often identify their client as senior management and work hard to sell business-unit managers on buying into corporate initiatives. Business-unit managers want to see how these corporate programs will benefit their business. An effective internal consultant connects strategic goals to bottom-line results as a way of gaining line sponsorship.
  2. Talking about problems others are having.
    Misery may love company, but no one wants to think you may be talking about their problems behind their back. Share successes across your internal network, give recognition and credit to those who deserve it, but protect confidentiality if you want to build your credibility.
  3. Believing you can't say no.
    Many internal consultants believe they can't say no to a client request. Rather than manage the client's expectations, they agree to anything, then find they can't deliver. You will build your integrity when you realistically commit to what you can do and then deliver high quality on time.
  4. Building client dependence.
    Clients may enjoy having you on call whenever a crisis or unpleasant problem arises. This may make you feel important and indispensible. But a good consultant is one who works him- or herself out of a job. Build capability in your clients so you have time to be strategic.
  5. Avoiding the politics game.
    Many people think of organizational politics as shady and don't want to play that game. To be influential in your organization, you must understand how things get done. That's known as organizational savvy.

Personnel Journal, June 1995, Vol. 74, No. 6, p. 78.