The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Building Partnerships — The Key to Unleashing HR’s Value Across the Institution

Although it may sometimes feel like it, human resources doesn’t operate in a bubble. Collaboration and partnerships are crucial to our work and necessary for helping us add value and remain relevant.

At the CUPA-HR Annual Conference, Chris Byrd, chief HR officer at University of South Carolina, shared with attendees how the university’s HR organization is working to create strong, long-lasting relationships with strategic partners across campus.

Why Partnerships?
“Simply put,” says Byrd, “partnerships help us realize our mission: ‘To advance the university by providing reliable and creative HR services and solutions that support all our customers.’”

It’s Easy to Get Started
Wondering where to start? Byrd says it’s as easy as “proposing and facilitating.” An example: At University of South Carolina, feedback for senior leadership was lacking, as there was no formal process in place for performance evaluation for the president’s direct reports. Byrd took notice, brought it to the president’s attention, and recommended and built out a performance feedback mechanism for the president to evaluate senior leaders. By taking a proactive approach, Byrd was able to showcase HR’s value to institutional leadership. “Don’t wait for them to come to you for help,” says Byrd. “By diagnosing problems, proposing solutions and gaining agreement on an approach to the issue — all done with customers — you can solidify your role as strategic partner.”

Outcomes at University of South Carolina
By using the approach mentioned above, Byrd and his team have been successful in forming partnerships with student affairs, the provost’s office, several academic departments, administration and finance, facilities, athletics and IT. HR has helped these various campus units with training and development, succession planning, recognition and rewards, business process redesign, strategic planning, change management, recruiting and more.

“These partnerships are helping our HR organization provide responsive and courteous service, efficient and reliable processes, creative and competent advice and strategic and timely support to all of our customers,” says Byrd. “And what better way to show our value add?”

Is your HR organization partnering with the right campus units in the right way? How can these partnerships help you meet your goals and advance your organization’s mission?

Related Resources:
The Shared Business of People: Partnership Opportunities Abound for HR and the Business Office
HR and Government Relations: Partnering on Public Policy
We Are Not the Enemy: Positioning HR as a Trusted Ally