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Making a Difference

What the research tells us

Business acumen

The participants in our study could articulate and understand the strategy and the key drivers of success. They had a focus on the competition and deep understanding of their industry or sector. They knew how their piece of the business interfaced with the rest of the organisation.

They consistently mentioned the need to think and communicate in business terms and to focus on business outcomes and results, not on HR processes and jargon.

This way of thinking and communicating was a powerful contributor to earning the respect of clients.

Sample quotes on business acumen

  • ‘Articulate the business strategy and the HR (people and structure) implications’
  • ‘Make links across the business – take a holistic view’
  • ‘Have a broad interest and knowledge, not just HR but economic and political implications’
  • ‘Use the business language’
  • ‘What is the conversation going to sound like?’
  • ‘Focus on business outcomes – that is what strategy is’
  • ‘Developing a deep understanding of the client builds the relationship and the knowledge of how to position ideas’
  • ‘Position ideas so the business understands the benefits’
High performing HR professionals know the business as well as their clients do.