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Foo Chek Wee, HR Business Partner at Visa in Singapore

How HR business partners can run better meetings

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Turn around frustrating and unproductive meetings with these three tips from Foo Chek Wee, an HR business partner at Visa.

Imagine your client says this to your boss: “[Insert your name] is the best HR business partner around … he/she is truly my trusted advisor.”

Wouldn’t that be a great feeling?

In our profession as HRBPs, the majority of our time is invested in client meetings. The opportunity to engage in two-way dialogues enables us to resolve a number of HR issues and it also presents a prime opportunity for us to earn trust and credibility among our clients.

But how many of us can honestly say we engage our clients in an impactful manner each and every time?

Often, these meetings can be frustrating and unproductive, but I have three tips on leading effective and meaningful client meetings. I simply call them hot tips:

  • What’s the headline?
  • What’s your opinion?
  • What’s the takeaway?

1. Headline: Create a meeting agenda

The purpose of the meeting needs to be laid out clearly to grab a client’s attention and avoid any confusion. Here are two types of meeting agendas that can be effective in capturing attention:

Competition-based – clients face tough external competition, and any avenue which enables them to gain insights on external market trends or conditions is highly valued. Here are some examples of a competition-based meeting agenda:

  • Who do we lose our top talent to and how we can retaliate.
  • Comparison of our employee benefits against the industry.
  • How can we recruit the best talent out there?

Benefits-driven agenda – this shows the benefits of what HR recommendations do for clients. It is an effective means in getting a client’s attention due to the common notion that people are simply interested in knowing the things that matter to them. Here are some examples of what to cover in a “what-is-in-it-for-me”-driven meeting:

  • Incentives on revising your approach.
  • Monetary benefits of providing employees with wellness benefits.
  • How employee engagement initiatives drive the bottom line.

2. Opinions: Separate opinions from facts, and be courageous

The real value of an HRBP is that we are positioned in a way in which we can appreciate the context and challenges clients face, and are able to recommend and execute actions towards better employee-related outcomes.

To help clients make good decisions, we need to separate factual information from opinion. Here are some examples:

Performance management 
Facts: What is the company’s performance improvement process?
Opinion: How can you ensure key performance indicators are objective and measurable?

Staff retention
What are the market benchmarks for pay ranges of a particular function?
Opinion: How much should a company compensate employees to stay competitive?

3. Takeaways: Provide key takeaways

Equally as important, we need to be courageous in giving clients honest opinions, no matter how unpopular these may be.

At the end of any client meeting, numerous stands, arguments or decisions will have been taken or made. At times – especially during long meetings – it may be unclear what actions need to be taken by all involved parties. Hence, it is critical to summarise the key points of a meeting, and more importantly, seek alignment on agreed actions and a timeline for delivery.

Not only will this keep everyone on the same page, but it will also provide clients with the means to measure deliverables, and increase the HRBP’s credibility when deliverables are met.


Everyone loves to be recognised by their clients as valued HR business partners. In this role, we engage clients most often during meetings, and the above suggestions can be an effective means of increasing our value.

Although getting “brownie points” from clients is great, the trust and credibility we gain serves a higher purpose:

  • The ability for us to enable an organisation to have a competitive advantage via the human resources management; and
  • The uplifting of the HR profession as a value-adding function.

The views and opinions here do not necessarily represent the views of Visa, only those of the author.

This article was originally published on and is republished here with permission.

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