Human Resource Business Partners as Agents of Continuous Performance Improvement

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Human Resources Business Partners, specifically those with titles such as Senior HR Business Partner or Strategic HR Business Partner, often have their organizations “wired” from the top. This means that they are connected to all of the key points of influence within the company. When there is effective engagement and communication with senior leaders, HRBPs have an enormous potential for helping to drive employee productivity and engagement.

Dr. Carl Binder, a renowned expert in performance management and thinking, will guide us through how his organization chose to evolve its programs to help HR Business Partners improve their performance and engagement.

Don’t miss this intriguing
webinar from HRDQ-U

Don’t miss this intriguing webinar from HRDQ-U

Enabling HR Business Partners to Drive Continuous Performance Improvement

What is the Performance Thinking Network?

The Performance Thinking Network, developed by Dr. Carl Binder, is an inclusive global community that brings together individuals and organizations interested in utilizing methodologies to improve workplace human performance. Their accomplishment-based performance improvement methodologies are based on nearly 40 years of research. Learn how this organization chose to evolve to help HR Business Partners.

Dr. Carl Binder’s Insights; Researching HR Business Partners

Group of professionals researching HR Business Partners

At the Performance Thinking Network, we are by no means specialists in the work of HR Business Partners. We are, instead, experts in the field of human performance improvement, but for years, companies have come to us with requests to put their HRBPs through our Performance Thinking® Practitioner Program, which certifies organizational performance consultants who serve in a variety of roles.

Such requests have always been a challenge for us because we frankly have never thought that our performance consulting certification program was a good fit for HR Business Partners. That’s because it prepares participants to conduct substantial projects, which in large companies might consume significant chunks of time and require months to complete. Our perspective has been that most HR Business Partners are spread too thin across their internal clients to focus on such large extended projects. We thought that they might be frustrated in our Practitioner Program, lacking the concentrated time to conduct big projects and we never want to disappoint!

Finally, after having this conversation with prospective clients over several years, we had the chance with one of our clients, a regional bank based in Cincinnati, to conduct a performance analysis of HR Business Partners to define their jobs better. In a first go-around, we concluded that their most frequent contributions come in the form of recommendations. They bring expertise from both HR and often from a business perspective to many different issues that leaders face. They often serve as management consultants with special expertise in Human Resources. However, defining the job with a long list of recommendations did not give us what we needed to deliver a program that would best suit the HRBP job.

Having completed what was an unsatisfying analysis because its finding was that HRPBs simply deliver many recommendations, we had an insight that changed our approach in the next analysis we were able to conduct at another company. We realized that HR Business Partners are often contributors to and even designers of processes that involve human resources and business. So we then guessed that a better way to understand their contributions is by identifying the processes in which HRBPs are often involved in.

As you will see if you watch my webinar, “Enabling HR Business Partners to Drive Continuous Performance Improvement,” we were able to identify more than 20 types of processes and collective activities to which HR Business Partners contribute. A few of these are listed below.

Some of HR Business Partners’ contributions:

  • Determining bench strength and designing succession planning.
  • Advising corrective action.
  • Providing leadership mentoring.
  • Capturing the voice of the customer.
  • Bringing business acumen to important implementation change management efforts.
  • Executing strategic plans.


This is just the shortlist.

Evolving the Performance Thinking® Programs for HR Business Partners

Once we framed the HRBP role with these found contributions, it was much more obvious how the methodology and logic of human performance improvement could be brought to bear on many of their contributions. We have always said that our Performance Improvement Programs for staff and consulting roles, as well as for leaders and managers, are intended to “accelerate business results through the performance of people.” Our analysis suggested that HR Business Partners have the potential to do that in a big way, helping leaders day-to-day to manage processes at the intersection of business and human resources.

This led us to design a program that differs from our other programs in that it lays down a foundation of our simple Performance Thinking® models and plain English vocabulary and then offers modules focused on specific applications. We can select and adapt modules focused on applications based on what is needed most in a given organization.

This was, for me, an illuminating exploration, both from the perspective of business and in regard to instructional design. By creating modules that are short and provide immediate practical applications with feedback, we were able to take the models, processes, and insights we have refined over more than 40 years as performance professionals and chunk them up to be more focused and useful for this particular group of users. These were among the most frequent types of engagements we heard about from the HRBPs whom we interviewed. We know how to incorporate research-based principles and methods from Human Performance Improvement into each of them. This provided traction for our program design.

Specific HRBP applications:

  • Employee Engagement Plans
  • Individual and Organizational Performance Measurement
  • Improving Working Relationships
  • Documenting and Managing Business Processes
  • Accomplishment-based Executive Coaching,
  • On-boarding
  • Succession Planning
  • Change Management
  • Execution of Strategic Plans


This provided traction for our program design.

Another feature of HR Business Partners makes them especially fun to work with for us. So many of the more senior HRPBs combine HR expertise with business management and leadership experience from quite varied backgrounds. I have always had the sense that companies do not start with a cookie-cutter profile when looking for people to fill the role. Instead, it’s my impression that candidates appear with varied experiences that interest recruiters and organizational leaders, often including significant operational success and that their unique backgrounds and capabilities prepare them to offer unique contributions. Many of the HR Business Partners with whom I’ve spoken are among the most interesting people I have met in the business. And that makes working with them especially fun and productive!

Two professionals talking, HR business partner and business leader

We’re excited about offering this modular approach now that COVID is over, and organizations might consider offering development opportunities for HR Business Partners. In fact, we’re seeking organizations in different industries interested in piloting the program.

This Performance Thinking® Program for HR Business Partners is designed for HR Business Partners and offers a comprehensive range of modules that introduce and provide practical experience in accomplishment-based performance improvement. These modules are tailored to address the specific applications and interventions commonly undertaken by HR Business Partners. By participating in our program, HR Business Partners will gain the necessary skills and tools to bring a performance-focused perspective to their work.

Headshot of Dr. Carl Binder
Dr. Carl Binder

Dr. Carl Binder, CEO of The Performance Thinking Network, began as a behavior scientist – one of B.F. Skinner’s last graduate students at Harvard. He spent the 1970s conducting research, training teachers, and consulting with educational and human service organizations across North America with a focus on fluency-based instruction. Shifting to corporate training in 1982, he joined the International Society for Performance Improvement where he met Tom Gilbert, Geary Rummler, Joe Harless, Roger Kaufman, and other performance improvement pioneers, who proved to be generous mentors. Founder of 4 consulting firms, he has continued to refine performance improvement models and methods, partnering with clients and stakeholders, developing performance consultants, and teaching leaders and managers to contribute to continuous improvement.

For over 40+ years, Carl has developed what is known as Performance Thinking®, a powerful but flexible accomplishment-based performance improvement methodology that his firm certifies others to apply in programs for different organizational roles. Adopted by clients on six continents, Performance Thinking has built a global community of practice. Carl has published several dozen articles and chapters, spoken at events worldwide, and received four Lifetime Achievement awards from the American Psychological Association, The International Society for Performance Improvement, the OBM Network, and the Standard Celeration Society.

Recommended Webinar
Enabling HR Business Partners to Drive Continuous Performance Improvement

Insights into Human Performance Improvement with the Performance Thinking® methodology and how behavior science can improve your business.

Enabling HR Business Partners to Drive Continuous Performance Improvement webinar
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