HR Manager & HR Business Partner – What’s the difference?

HR typically started as a business function by having its roots in administration, filing, personnel and compliance. HR is an ever evolving value add area of a company, and presently has more impact than ever before for a core business. With this change over the past decade, has changed the nature and structure of HR teams, the titles, skills and attributes of those working in this dynamic field.

Today, I was discussing the many differences between a HR Manager Role and a HR Business Partner role with a HR professional who has held both positions within companies. After what was a very interesting conversation, I decided to attempt to outline and simplify the fundamental differences between the two titles/roles.

HR Business Partner

Human resource business partners have clients within the organization that they support. They provide resources and build relationships with focusing on the missions and objectives set forth by the organization. With the main bulk of administration being centralised, there is much less focus on compliance and administration. In addition, HRBP’s tend to be supported by Centres of Excellence eg Compensations and Benefits, Learning and Development etc. This person is seen as more of a strategic resource for the region or area that they support. Business Partners work to develop a HR agenda that closely supports the overall aims of an organisation. This process of alignment is known as HR Business Partnering, a concept that was popularised in the mid 90’s by David Ulrich.

HR Manager

HR managers are likely to be responsible for HR within a department or for the company (depending on the size). They normally have multiple HR staff reporting to them. Depending on the organisation, HR managers may be responsible for setting policy direction. They can have a wider remit of responsibility for the overall HR function – budgeting, recruitment, change management, rewards, L&D, ER/IR, compliance and HR systems administration.

It would be fair to say that some organisations have adopted the term HRBP even when the role being carried out is in fact more of a classical HR Manager. Sometimes, the lines are blurred between the two titles and that causes confusion for applicants. The attributes required to carry out a HRBP role tends to be more strategic, consultative and coaching in nature. This may or may not suit or interest many traditional HR Managers who prefer to roll up their sleeves and be involved in the full suite of HR activities.

“As the pace of change increases in every aspect of our lives, HR professionals have become change champions in many companies around the world, and this has generally been much to their employers’ advantage.” ― David Ulrich, HR from the Outside In: Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources

To get involved in the conversation, please feel free to comment below or drop me a line on


7 Ways To Foster Your Emotional Intelligence

According to Emotional Intelligence (EI) expert and author Harvey Deutschendorf, “the realization that E.I. has become an important predictor of job success, even surpassing technical ability, has been growing over the past number of years”.

Companies are placing a high value on E.I. in new hires for many important reasons. People with high E.I. understand and cooperate with others, they are exceptional listeners, open to feedback, have more empathy, and make thoughtful and thorough decisions.

In work, we all regret a time when we have all reacted too quickly to a situation or person and not given ourselves enough time to breathe, think and work out the best possible response. The good news is that we can all work on our level of EI – we can all become more emotionally intelligent and less volatile in the workplace (and in life generally)

Here are a few simple tricks to help you on your way

1.   Pause. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Clear your mind.

After pausing and acknowledging your emotions, your mind will already feel much clearer. Nehad Tadros

2.   Breathe

Set aside two minutes – relax and breathe deeply. Then write down a couple of potential solutions to your problem.

3.   Focus on what you can change

When you hit a setback, separate the parts of the situation you can control or influence from the parts you cannot. Focus on what you can influence, and notice how much more confident you feel about overcoming the setback. Dawn Cook

4.   Be Friendly and open and smile

Chat to people, smile, ask them how they are and listen to the answer. Be naturally engaged.

5.   Find something impossible to do and practice it

It sounds corny, but it’s a profound mental switch. Just try saying, “I can’t,” and then “I can’t yet” – the emotional experience is dramatically different. The first is a wall. The second, a door. Joshua Freedman

6.   Be Open and Honest

Create opportunities to informally share what you feel and ask for feedback. This may seem daunting at first particularly if you are naturally reserved person but with practice is will become more natural and hopefully put you in a happier and more relaxed space.

7.   Be self-aware

I think it is very important to be able to acknowledge the areas in which you are weak and not be scared to verbalise it. You would be surprised how happy people are to give you a dig out and assist when you ask.

From time to time, I forget to follow my own best advice and go onto regret it later. However, the good news is that I really want to and enjoy trying to improve upon my skills in the whole area of EI. Realistically, it is always going to be a work in progress for me but hey-ho honesty is always the best policy!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on ways you too can foster emotional intelligence!


What’s your mindset?

Recently I attended a really thought provoking event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce which was on the topic of the role of Life Long Learning & Business Growth. The speakers on the day were of equal measure witty & informative which kept the audience refreshingly alert and engaged. All of the topics and findings from this day have stuck with me still, but it was Philip Matthew’s talk on the Mindset for growth that I find myself coming back to and resisting the urge to speak about at every given chance … clearly my willpower hasn’t held up on this occasion!  In keeping with the day’s theme of lifelong learning, Philip’s speech focused mainly on the research and workings of Carol Dweck a highly respected and published psychologist who lectures in Stanford University. Dweck proposes that people’s learning style/mindset can be categorised into two, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset which in summary can be described as follows:

A fixed mindset are those who believe that their talents and achievements in their career and indeed their personal life are innate in them and that they are essentially born with their strengths and talents. Those with a growth mindset are “individuals who believe their talents can be developed through hard work, good strategies and input from others.” The see failure not as evidence of unintelligence but rather as a foundation and springboard to learn and grow from. People with this mindset not discouraged by failure, but they don’t actually see themselves as failing in those situations — they see themselves as learning.”

So what does these mean? And what does it mean to a recruiter? For me, it really got me thinking, (a very dangerous thing)!  It made me wonder how far rooted these mindsets reached? What affect would this have in terms of my candidates thought process and outlook; surely this must have some bearing on their approach to their job search as well as their approach to learning. After all Deck found that traits of these mindsets were found in research with candidates of the age of 4. And also, if this mindset was so prominent within people, could these same principles be as clear cut in companies too?

After further happy digging, it turns out Deck got tickled by this question far before me. After again conducting several diverse sample tests on a number of fortune 1000 companies, Dweck and her team of researchers found that like individuals, companies too could be seen to be either of a fixed or growth mindset. And like people, companies suffered from the negative effect of a fixed mind set. For example; Employees within firms with a fixed mindset had a focus on “star workers” and teams were reported to be more worried about failing and thus had fewer innovation projects.

As opposed to companies of a fixed mindset, Growth mindset companies are:

47% likelier to say that their colleagues are trustworthy,
34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the company,
65% likelier to say that the company supports risk taking, and
49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation

Upon researching this topic, I found myself considering my own candidates and clients to see just how life like this mindset truly was. It turns out, it unequivocally is. I have recently had the pleasure to work very closely with a really interesting dynamic and diverse gaming company based in Dublin, where from the onset I knew that the cultural fit for this organisation would be more important than any other element to the role. In essence the culture came to have a marmite effect. Candidates would love it or hate it. It became clear early on that what I had thought to be the perks of the firm such as its view on flexi time, its flat structure, the little to no regimented HR processes as well as built in gaming time were all again feeling the marmite effect. At the time, I had thought this was down to a culture mismatch, but now I wonder is this in fact a mindset mismatch?

Upon closer inspection of the candidates in the process I found that those who progressed in the process had growth mindset characteristics. So those who embrace change, persist in the face of setbacks, see efforts as path to mastery, learn from critics, and finally find lessons and inspiration in the success of others were successful in achieving a role with the firm. Similarly, those who did not progress had very close similarities to that of the fixed mindset. What this meant on a more practical basis was that those who didn’t need a job spec or often didn’t even need a specific open role to interview, faired the best within interviews. Those who were happiest to receive feedback on themselves, who were open to discuss what their weaknesses and who were open to unusual interview competency questions or interview tasks, were those who progressed within the company. Their approach and demeanour in interview were all classic case growth mindset characteristics and as a result have proved to be a great fit within this growth mindset firm!

If the characteristics that were deemed successful for this gaming company are so blatant, and in line with the firm’s internal mantra, could it be that this growth vs. fixed mindset approach be a magic key that unlocks a better fit for both candidates and clients? Is this outlook perhaps even more trustworthy than industry background and experience? I’m left with thinking, will the fixed vs. growth mindset overtake the role of culture or are they one of the same?



Human Resources Top Tips series

You would be right in thinking that Human Resources in Ireland over the past few years has seen the arrival of many new job titles and corresponding buzz words. Coinciding with Ireland’s return to growth and renewed focus on the importance of employee attraction and retention has seen the emergence of new specialist titles across the following areas Employee Communication, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Organisational Development, Organisational  Effectiveness, People and Change, HR Transformation, HR Planning & Forecasting, Early Career Talent Management, Graduate Talent Management, HR Operations Management, HR project Management, HR Analytics and HR Information Systems.

So we, at HR Search and Selection, are going to attempt to demystify some of the above by writing a “Top Tips” series.  In this series we will talk to the experts in the above areas and explore their insight as to how to be the “best in class” in their areas of expertise.

And the first that I will look at is the role of the Employee Communications Manager which is defined as “ facilitating strategic connections and conversations within your company” If done properly it should ensure that your people are committed to achieving ground breaking business results by helping to improve collaboration, productivity and performance.

Top Tips from a highly respected Employee Communications Manager

  • All companies need to start by understanding their audience, stakeholders and business objectives.
  • All companies, no matter what their size, should have a clearly defined internal and external brand purpose and value statement and these should be clearly communicated to all internal and external stakeholders.
  • This brand promise should have the full buy in of the Senior Executive team and they should wear these values in everything that they do and say.
  • Clear communication is King and should ideally be tailored for the audience in terms of medium and flavour of message. Messages should educate and inspire each employee to deliver on goals. In all cases it should link back to group values.
  • Regular meetings in all main offices should be held with the senior management team present if at all possible. As many employees as possible should attend.
  • Employees should be able to ask questions and it should be an open forum.
  • All communication needs to be genuine and respectful.
  • Keep things as simple as possible.
  • And don’t forget to measure the effectiveness of internal communications which is often easier said than done!

Background of professionals in this area will typically have been in Communications, Marketing or Journalism. People will often “end-up” in this space by chance rather than design. It will suit people who enjoy understanding and connecting with people in a relevant manner. The person will only be as good as the buy-in from the senior management team. If out of sync with each other, then you may as well flush the budget for your internal communication strategy down the drain!

If you have a background in Employee Communication and are looking for your next move or if you are looking to hire an Employee Communication specialist in this space please do not hesitate to contact Caoilinn or I.