By: Lisa Smith on February 27th, 2020

Print/Save as PDF

Human Capital Impact Forum Review of Influence to Impact

Business Management & Strategy

How Great HR Leaders Build Trusting Partnerships

This review is the second-part series in our recap of the February 7th, 2020 Human Capital Impact Forum. Check out my first review of Session One with Ryan Estis on Rethinking HR: The Future of Work and Human Resources.

Session Two was on "Influence to Impact: How Great Leaders Build Trusting Partnerships" with Helios’ own Sandra Bulgin, Senior Human Resources Consultant. Sandra focused her discussion on thoughtful leadership, how to operate with intention, and walked us through on how to be a trusted business partner. Sandra shared her experience of when you build trust with your C-level executives, the dynamics change. You go from an HR practitioner to a strategic business leader and partner.

When Did You Last Trust an Expert?

She challenged the group with an exercise to think about when you last trusted an expert. In retrospect, to rise as a trusted advisor and partner, you will need to first earn that relationship. Trust develops from consistent actions that show colleagues you are reliable, cooperative, and committed to the success of your organization.

When building trust, you must assume positive intent, trust but verify and lastly, build trust through behaviors. Sandra referenced the book, "Powerful Relationships" by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas. Their essence of trust model consists of Competency (the belief that person has the skills and experience to do what was promised), Integrity (having integrity is being honest, reliable and consistent), and Agenda Focus(ed) (ensuring that you are focused on their own agenda or helping to achieve yours).

When you are advising your corporate leaders with the goal to facilitate meaningful change, execution should include:

  • Supporting the corporate process
  • Setting up the relationship for success by assuming your role
  • Setting and managing expectations and being prepared for changes if they arise
  • Establishing regular communication, cadence and addressing challenges
  • Listening and observing for additional opportunities to add value
  • Regularly revisit and review milestones and priorities
  • Address any shift in expectations immediately

When seeking to be an advisor to your business and setting strategic goals for 2020, it's important to ask questions to help build solid relationships and maintain trust.

Some of the questions she referenced as examples included:

  • What would you like to know? 
  • What do you think?
  • What is this costing you? Any consequences?
  • How does this further the mission and goals?
  • Are there any other initiatives?

Ask questions and genuinely listen, say what you mean and show appreciation. Also, listen with curiosity and not with judgment, she recommends.

Sandra shared some concerns or common fears that can hold an HR leader back. Those including jumping in too soon, which is the human tendency to focus on ourselves and the desire for tangibility and validation. Also, stop trying to sell yourself and what you know, instead determine what is actually important in building the relationship.

After several group exercises, Sandra ended her session by providing the following items to reflect upon:

  • What is your mission?
  • Which are your most important relationships?
  • What are the essential priorities and goals of those closest to you?
  • What are your expectations for those around you? What do they expect of you?
  • What is your plan and your next first step?