5 Tips for HR Professionals to Improve Business Acumen

– Excerpts from the webinar with Foluso Aribisala; CEO/Managing Partner Workforce Group

Business leaders often perceive the HR function as being out of sync and failing to fully understand or empathise with the business needs. Some C-suite executives sometimes view the HR function as limited to people management alone and barely concerned with business operations. 

A recent Korn Ferry survey of Chief Human Resources Officers across the globe found that business acumen is the most lacking skill with top-level HR talent. This continues to affect and shape the perception that HR professionals do not know or understand business and this, in turn, limits access, support and approval for  HR plans, resources and initiatives. If this must change, HR professionals must recognise business acumen as an essential and integral part of their success regardless of industry or organisation.

Business acumen is the intuitive and applicable ability to interpret and understand how a business makes money. It enables making effective business decisions and adding value to all business stakeholder experiences’ design and development.

Foluso Aribisala, CEO of Workforce Group in a recent webinar hosted by Workforce Group on “Business Acumen For HR Professionals“, stated that the average HR professional needs to make an urgent mindset shift as this would enable them to add more value to their organisation and the business world.

Session Outline

During the session, webinar participants were enlightened on how to:

  1. Apply the basic guidelines for understanding and evaluating any business model, strategy, and operation.
  2. Utilise the five essential business elements to understand how companies make money.
  3. Interpret the organisation’s financial statement.
  4. Align HR processes and projects with their organisation’s objectives.

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Tips on How to Improve Business Acumen for HR Professionals

The following tips were also shared on how to improve business acumen skills for HR Professionals:

1. Read business management books and articles to learn about timeless principles; their origin, the rationale and the application. The following books were recommended as excellent thought starters:

business management books

2. Stay updated on business news peculiar to your organisation and customers. This will aid research and benchmarking activities for current and future activities, enabling you to perform at a higher level and offer more value to your organisation. Setting up Google alerts and following hashtags on specific trends and topics can help with real-time updates. 

3. Take a business and financial acumen course – this will help broaden your perspective on the subject, and validate your confidence to execute and proffer solutions for business challenges from an informed perspective. 

4. Accept or volunteer for cross-functional assignments- this will help showcase your improved skills and knowledge as you collaborate with colleagues in other functions and help with practical experience and insight to other vital business areas beyond human resources.

5. Get feedback from key business stakeholders – Seeking feedback will help you avoid blind spots and guide further on areas to either strengthen, decrease or eliminate efforts.

In conclusion, business acumen is not an innate skill or ability. Like any other skill, it can be developed by being deliberate, beginning with the tips listed above.

In closing the session, Foluso Aribisala advised HR professionals to see themselves first as business people before HR professionals because ultimately, the business is the primary concern and reason for all HR initiatives. 

The webinar was a pre-course that precedes a two-day instructor-led course on “Business and Financial Acumen “. The course will feature a simulation of case studies and real scenarios, equip participants with planning tools, and provide facilitator support for designing initiatives aligned to current business challenges and requirements. 

For interest in this two days course, you can sign up here.

 For further enquiries, you can email hello@wokforcegroup.com.

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