Business Partnering

HRBP Community Summary Notes: Collaborating with Impact

  • April 2, 2024

On 26th March, CRF hosted an online discussion for senior members of the HR Business Partner (HRBP) Community, “HR Business Partnering – Collaborating with Impact”. Chaired by Emma Lucas, CRF Learning & HRBP Community Lead, and Melissa Bull, Commercial Director at CRF, the session included key insights from member organisations and CRF research. This session followed discussion in the community WhatsApp group – those who are interested in joining the discussion can email or This summary shares key insights around common challenges in HR collaboration and explored practical examples of effective collaboration strategies.

If you are interested in exploring CRF Learning’s development programmes in this important area, or would like to see our model for effective collaboration between COEs and BPs do let know and she would be happy to share more details.

Identifying Typical Challenges

The session commenced with an exploration of the typical challenges faced in HR collaboration. These include:

  • Issues can arise when the COE is too far removed from the business or does not sufficiently engage BPs. 
  • It can be a struggle to align COEs’ expertise with the needs of BPs in different business units, leading to inefficiencies in delivering HR solutions.
  • BPs have a lot to offer but is essentially a contracting job and it can sometimes be difficult to demonstrate their worth. It can also sometimes feel like the BPs are a post box for the COEs into the business. 
  • Getting the timing of the introduction of COE members right and positioning the respective relationships correctly is paramount.  
  • It can sometimes feel like HRBPs and COEs are pulling in different directions trying to serve the business. Ensuring consistent messaging and coordination across various HR functions can be especially difficult in global organisations with dispersed teams.

Defining Effective Collaboration

The conversation then shifted to defining what constitutes great collaboration within the HR function. Participants emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of trust, transparency, and mutual respect among BPs, COEs, and other stakeholders. In one example, a participant illustrated how identifying those BPs who had a passion for talent management and involving them throughout the design and implementation of a new talent management process led to better collaboration and improved business outcomes.

Creating a Unifying Purpose

Attendees explored strategies for creating a unifying purpose that aligns the efforts of BPs and COEs with the overarching goals of the organisation. Examples included developing shared vision statements and establishing cross-functional teams to address specific business challenges. One participant shared how their organisation successfully implemented a collaborative project aimed at enhancing diversity and inclusion initiatives by leveraging insights from both BPs and COEs.

Establishing Impactful Ways of Working

The session delved into practical approaches for establishing impactful ways of working that drive tangible business outcomes. Attendees discussed the importance of clarifying who owns the relationship with the business (including who’s on the hook for which aspects of delivering a product or service), regular communication and collaboration forums, such as quarterly COE-BP alignment meetings or inviting a different COE representative to attend each monthly BP team gathering. In one example, adopting collaborative working methods such as agile methodologies and design thinking principles facilitated collaboration, rapid problem-solving and innovation within the HR function, resulting in enhanced service delivery and client satisfaction. In another example, in response to BPs and COEs working at cross purposes with the business, they agreed that each BP would align with a COE, building personal relationships, sharing respective plans and having regular virtual coffees to provide feedback and act as a sounding board.

Sharing Examples of Success

Participants shared examples of successful collaboration initiatives within their organisations. These included cross-functional task forces to address critical business issues, joint development programs for emerging leaders in HR, alignment of deliverables between BPs and COEs and shared accountability frameworks for HR metrics.

Addressing Psychological Safety

The importance of psychological safety in fostering effective collaboration was emphasised by participants. Strategies for creating a supportive and inclusive work environment, where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and challenging assumptions, were discussed. One example highlighted how implementing regular meetings and feedback mechanisms enhanced psychological safety within HR teams, leading to better trust and collaboration.


The session concluded that by identifying and addressing shared challenges, defining clear objectives, and fostering a culture of trust and transparency, HR professionals can enhance their effectiveness in driving business impact through collaborative efforts. CRF Learning can help you do this and if you would like to learn more about how, can help!

The next HRBP community event will take place on May 8th, with the topic to be shared in due course.

If you have any further questions, please contact Melissa Bull, Commercial Director



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