16 Oct 2020 | Culture & Careers | by Milan Trimborn

Acting as a psychologist, negotiator or police officer at work – the diversity of a People Partner role

Hi! My name is Milan, I am a People Partner in Delivery Hero’s People Operations department. As the name suggests, the role of a People Partner is all about: people

At Delivery Hero, People Partners (also known as HR Business Partners) are in touch throughout the entire employee lifecycle, across every department and level. But how exactly do we support? Read on to find out more. 

Milan Trimborn, People Partner at Delivery Hero

So, what exactly is a People Partner?

From onboarding to leading teams, talent development to performance reviews, a People Partner is a first point of contact, an advisor, a relationship builder. 

People Partners act as connectors between all business units, by mapping out dependencies and creating partnerships in line with our company values. We strengthen employee relationships across the company, which in turn supports management in achieving their strategic goals. That’s the official definition – let’s break that down a bit. 

First and foremost, we build relationships with managers, supporting them with leading their teams and identifying opportunities for growth. 

As a People Partner, you act as a point of contact and advisor for managers on all people related topics, including:

  • Employee relations
  • Performance management (incl. levels, titles, compensation, career paths, development plans)
  • Feedback survey action planning
  • Organizational design and planning

One of our main goals is to provide a great employee experience here at Delivery Hero, and we’ve found that supporting managers to empower their teams goes a long way. From all the feedback we receive through meetings and surveys, we identify patterns and initiate solutions wherever possible.  

People Partners are a bit like chameleons… 

As a People Partner, your role comes in many shapes and forms. Depending on the day, moment and stakeholder in front of you, you need to act either as advisor, mediator, punching ball (figuratively!), rational soundboard, psychologist, consultant, negotiator, police officer, team player, etc. We answer questions, lead calibration meetings, have 1:1 meetings with leaders and employees, work on level frameworks, policies and projects, present at department all hands, work cross functionally and much more.

Each People Partner has designated teams they work with every day, usually broken down per department (Marketing, Tech, Operations, etc…). It is important that each person has the possibility to work with teams and departments they are interested in or want to learn more about. We evaluate this roughly on a yearly basis. Actually, we recently looked at our team alignments and shuffled it around a bit, to ensure we all get the exposure to learn new things, or to dive even deeper!

For example, I support Tech & Product professionals in the company. Mostly I work directly with leaders that are managing a team. We meet regularly and in those meetings we talk about how their teams are doing and what we can do to positively influence this. Suggestions for improvements can be quite practical or operational, while others are more on the behavioral side. This is where the company values or the People Leadership Principles (PLPs) come into play, which guide us how we want to work as a company. The principles outline leadership behaviors that we aim for and expect from our leaders. Therefore, they really help to guide our collaborations and set the foundation for impactful leadership.

Apart from working directly with the leaders, I am usually also involved in wider People Operations projects (such as facilitating our company wide onboarding or establishing our People Leadership Principles) where I work with other members from the department. Also, I have a passion for Talent Development, so I act as a co-trainer from time to time as well (specifically for our trainings “Unconscious Bias” and “Coaching for development and performance”).

What does this mean for employees?

It’s always nice to know that there is someone you can reach out to when you are having issues. Line managers will always be the first point of contact, but employees might come across situations where this does not feel right. That’s where People Partners come in! 

Employees can always reach out to their People Partner on topics like a conflict with your manager, team dynamics, development plans, misbehaviors you might have witnessed or other concerns you might have. We have a duty of confidentiality and treat all information with the utmost care. 

Keeping the ‘people’ in People Partner throughout the pandemic

Sometimes it feels as if our job has not changed over the past few months, apart from the fact that all our meetings are now video calls, and screen time has increased significantly. However, we noticed that the topics that our business partners raise have changed over that time and we had to become much more agile.

We have been involved in creating new policies or changing existing ones, to adjust to the new normal. It has been a challenge and it requires us to work creatively.

For me personally, it was definitely a big change to switch to working remotely and I know some other team members felt the same way. Being a People Partner, we love to work with people. Therefore we very much miss face to face interactions or these bump-into-each-other-in-the-hallway-moments. Connection is key, and luckily we’ve found ways to create these connections digitally: through standups, team meetings, Slack check-ins, team buildings and virtual Friday socials.

Our purpose: Creating something meaningful and lasting

When it comes to my role as a People Partner, helping others is definitely the number one reason why I enjoy doing what I do. It is so rewarding to provide clarity, offer an ear to listen, offer solutions or help brainstorming how to tackle challenges. I truly appreciate that people put their trust in me and allow for an open discussion. 

On the other hand, it can be hard to realize that sometimes your options to provide help are limited. Although we offer support, we do not always have decision-making power. But although there might not always be a plug and play solution, I have noticed that it can help to simply listen and acknowledge the situation.

Another plus is the variety of my day to day work. There are quick wins, like problem solving slack questions, but also long-term or group projects that make me feel like I am a part of creating something meaningful and lasting for employees. I switch between these two each day and it keeps me feeling energized. 

I also have the opportunity to work with many different people from all over the company. From People Operations to Tech & Product departments, I have met many wonderful people throughout the years! 

About the author


Milan Trimborn

People Partner
Delivery Hero