As people professionals, it’s critical that we understand organisations– their purpose, future direction, priorities and performance – as well as the external influences and trends impacting them.

We also need to understand the wider world of work – and how organisations contribute not only to the lives of their employees and customers, but society as a whole. Understanding these aspects of work enables us to anticipate external events and internal issues, and identify how we can add the most value – and, therefore, contribute to the sustained success and development of organisations.

Within this area you’ll also find the practical business knowledge that you need, such as financial literacy, business planning, and supplier management. Knowledge of how to use these business skills is critical to operating successfully as a people professional within different types of organisations and environments.  

This is why Business acumen is one of the largest knowledge areas in the new Profession Map; we need a deep understanding of the world of work if we are to be effective in creating value for organisations, their employees and wider society.

Things to start thinking about

Use these prompts to reflect on your understanding of Business acumen and uncover areas for future professional development.

  1. What steps do you take to fully understand the organisation - its strategy, product/services, and its customers?

  2. What drives organisational performance, and when did you last review the people strategy to ensure its contribution to this performance?

  3. How do you use financial and commercial information to inform your work?

  4. How does the organisation’s success contribute to the wider community/society?