The Corvinus University of Budapest and the Flow Consulting Kft. have renewed their specialist postgraduate programmes in line with the latest HR trends. We talked to Diana Miskó, lecturer of HR Business Partner’s programme and partner of Flow Consulting.
Applications are still open for the HR Business Partner/Specialist Economist specialist postgraduate programmes on the University website.
Why and how was the programme created?
When I first met Dr. Sándor Takács, a university professor at Corvinus 13 years ago, I had already been working at Flow for a few years. I switched to external consulting after working as an internal organisational developer and HR manager, and I was very enthusiastic about the idea of creating a programme that would prepare participants for an HR senior manager role based on partnership with business leaders. As an HR manager, I have often had the experience of just following decisions, being an implementer. We therefore envisioned HRBPs and HR managers who actively shape the way organisations operate and provide direction to managers – we want to offer confident knowledge and best practices from home and abroad.
Participants will also learn business management skills, organisational diagnostics and methodology, as well as skills development and professional self-awareness courses related to the role of internal organisational development consultant. Corvinus lecturers will introduce students to the basic and latest models of strategic management, performance management and controlling, organisational development and learning organisation, among others, and will support them in their daily practice during the programme. We, Flow lecturers add our behavioural-based approach to organisational development; our practical know-how in change management and organisational culture development; best practices in different HR functions; coaching and our methods for professional self-development. In addition, of course, we will also talk a lot about the role and value proposition of HRBP, introduce exciting strategic HR cases, and give students a roadmap on sub-disciplines such as business ethics and employment law. In line with the comprehensive subject structure, a diverse teaching staff from both Corvinus and Flow joined the programme.
For HR managers to show direction, they need to take some perspective. What do you think is important to stand for as an HR manager today?
Mostly that everything is changing so fast in the world and therefore in the business sector, that it is important to be able to learn on an ongoing basis. We also have to accept that the market works differently because of all these changes, and so do the people in it. Sometimes we need to stop and look at ourselves and how the organisation is working, to recognise when we are not on the right track and need to change. So individual and organisational self-reflection is becoming increasingly important.
Agile operation is also the answer to managing change. How are you trying to incorporate this approach into the programme?
The programme’s subjects cover new trends, including agile and data-driven HR. We have many subjects that are about reviewing and revising our own operations. So, we want to encourage a willingness to act in the participants, so that they are able to change, learn and develop on an ongoing basis. This is also helped by the fact that lecturers bring in a lot of models for strategy development or organisational development, and we at Flow add our diagnostic tools, at organisational, group and individual level. We give participants the opportunity to try them out on themselves and their organisation. We also invite our own clients or former students to tell us how they have used these tools to shape their organisational development processes or how they have built organisational transformation around them.
What do you teach in the programme starting in September and what is it like to go into a group of such experienced participants?
Together with the study programme leader, Dr. Sándor Takács, we will monitor the whole programme. We ensure that we can make changes in an agile way if necessary and listen to students’ needs on the fly. I coordinate the involvement of my own colleagues who participate as lecturers from Flow, as well as the involvement of our clients. In addition, I teach change management, action learning, group coaching, psychodrama and action-oriented case management in the programme. I prepare a lot for my classes – after all, I come to professionals. What I see is that we build up the programme right from the team building stage, so that there is a very strong atmosphere of trust. This trust is shown towards each other and towards the lecturers. I am aware that I have a very strong approach, but I don’t have an attitude to this that I am the one who knows everything, but I bring in my models, my studies and my experience and together we see what they can do with it. Participants really enjoy the fact that the knowledge and experience they bring to the programme is just as valuable as that of the lecturers. It is basically a partnership between us, which also increases the participants’ confidence.
You mentioned that you could change the programme on the fly if necessary. Have there been examples of this in recent years?
When we started the programme, we took it so seriously that after each Friday-Saturday training session, we had a feedback loop and passed on the lessons learned to the lecturers. Over time, this has become less common, but as a principle, it remains. Building on the feedback we have received recently, we have completely revamped the programme, which will start in September with a fresh new theme. We have added new subjects such as organisational network analysis or data-driven HR. In my own field, for example, we have received so much positive feedback about the professional “life-changing” effect of psychodrama taught together with Sándor Takács that we will start an action-oriented case study class based on it in the final semester.
What is action-oriented case management?
Using dramatic tools, we give participants a virtual supervision platform. We’ll look at specific HR cases, halts in role which they bring to the class. We practically act out the situations to explore the possibilities they contain. We can replay the situation in many different ways to understand the web of interests from above. So, we try to find the best possible solution to the situation. Sometimes it is enough for a participant to understand how he or she came to be in a situation that he or she perceives as difficult to handle, or why an organisational actor reacted negatively and how he or she can influence it. It’s a very exciting method, it can suck the participants in; it often has a cathartic effect. Even years later, they remember the insights that come out of these sessions. I recently met with a former student who had taken the programme four years ago, and they talked about how they had been able to change their own organisational impact and their relationship with their senior manager partner from the situation they had played out in psychodrama to building on their understanding of the future. After all these years, they clearly remembered the programme and have linked its lessons to their own development and successes since then.
Do you also work on building the HR partnership and helping participants to find themselves in it?
This is certainly the backbone of the programme. On the one hand, we will explore what role development opportunities exist within HR, even within the business partner role. We look at the competences they need and support them to become business partners. Participants will be given models and can try out which one suits them and their organisation. The programme may seem long at first glance, but these two years give participants the opportunity to develop their roles. What inspires me most as a lecturer is to see them really move forward – not just themselves, but their organisations. For example, in one year group, there was a sales manager who wanted to move to a HR manager position, which they did by the end of the programme. They took home the action learning toolkit, on which they built a learning organisation in their organisation. Today, as a regional HR manager, they support this culture in their company. The example also shows that the programme can be the basis for a successful career change. It’s just important that applicants from outside HR have some management experience and sufficient insight into how HR works.
What are the most important competences that an HR business partner should have today?
I think it’s important to have an overall, holistic view, so that they are not just looking from their own HR perspective, but they are also looking at the way the business leaders are looking at the organisation. It is also important they have very strong collaborative skills (e.g., empathy, conscious conflict management), so that they can work with other leaders in heightened situations. We build their self-awareness and encourage them to admit their vulnerability: it’s important to admit when they do not know something or when they have made a mistake. I also believe that classic change management and more general leadership competences, such as the ability to prioritise, are important. Throughout the programme, there are subjects on approach, HR counselling and methodology, skills development and professional self-awareness to support this. What I think is most striking about our HRBP programme is that the participants say that these two years are a very exciting journey, which offers serious challenges but also support alongside concrete knowledge.