HR people should focus more on results and less on being “passionate”

There’s been much discussion online lately on the evolving role of HR so I have made this the theme of my latest fortnightly round up of articles and links on HR strategy.  
Key messages are:
  • Show a causal link between HR activities and results. 
  • Show that these results help create revenue. 
  • Adapt to changes in the workplace rather than stick with traditional HR processes and programmes designed to drive employee engagement. 
  • Hone your skills as activists, change champions and capability builders.
  • Analyse what people management actions are needed to respond to external business trends.  

HR blogger Trish McFarlane in a blog titled “The Role of HR in an Evolving Workplace”  on her HR Ringleader blog,  says this: 

“HR is not about programs and processes anymore (yes, there will be recruiting, 
compensation, benefits, talent management, etc.) – it is about driving sustainable 
business results that matter – you must be able to answer the question ‘we are 
doing xxxx in order to drive yyyy results’… it is simply not a given or assumed anymore that salary increases, affordable benefits, great training and other efforts are part of the employment deal – do you have a point of view and a business agenda you are advancing at your organization in the context of today’s new realities?” 

HR’s heavyweight champion theorist, Dave Ulrich, has also been talking about this issue in “Evolving Expertise Studies”,  together with co-authors Jon Younger, Wayne Brockbank and Mike Ulrich, published in Human Resource Executive online.

“HR professionals are honing their skills as activists, change champions and capability builders who can turn external business trends into organizational action,” they argue.  

Another respected HR expert, Dr John Sullvan, weighs into the debate with an article “Transform HR Into a Revenue-Impact Function to Increase Your Strategic Impact”

Lastly, before moving on to a list of useful links to content on HR strategy, I’d like to congratulate Graham Salisbury for having the nerve to tell HR people to stop telling everyone how “passionate” they are. On his HR Case Studies blog he says:  

“HR people: for heaven’s sake, stop describing yourself as”passionate” about what you do. Especially when it’s applied to activities such as organisational change or personal development. To be passionate is to be ‘dominated by or easily moved by strong feeling, especially of love or anger.’ Is that the way people really and honestly feel about HR activities?”


Seven ways to fix the system’s flaws, by Martin Wolf, the FT’s chief economics commentator. 

The workplace and jobs

The End of a Job as We Know It” by Josh Bersin on the Bersin & Associates blog.


Directors out of touch with middle managers, research shows. From People Management 

Women matter 2010: women at the top of corporations: making it happen, by Curt Rice 
n the Thoughts on University Leadership blog. 

Employee engagement

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg explains how employee share ownership  is the key to unlocking growth in a “John Lewis economy”. In People Management magazine. 

Philip Whiteley’s blog argues that “Moral capitalism comes from within”. The principles of sustainable capitalism are: commitment to employee engagement; commitment to integrity; and  treating workers and the environment as stakeholders 
to be nurtured, not resources to be exploited. 

expert on employee engagement. 

Change management

Companies don’t generate competitive advantage out of the ability to execute but from the ability to change and adapt on an ongoing basis” So said  leading HR thinker Ed Lawler, at the HR Directors Business Summit ,as eported on John Ingham’s Strategic HCM blog. 

One of the biggest problems within the HR profession is a lack of innovation, argues Neil on  his  Change Effect blog.  Practicality is the enemy of innovation, he argues.

The Flip Chart Fairy Tales blog analyses the finding by MPs that NHS reforms are killing efficiency savings

10 key lessons from culture change, by Torben Rick on his Torben Rick Writes blog. 

Cracking the Code of Change, by Michael Beer and Nitin Nohria in the Harvard Business Review.  


10 ridiculous management practices to dump this year, including forbidding LinkedIn in the office, and requiring a death certificate to be submitted when an employee asks for bereavement leave. rom Ragan’s HR Communication blog. 

Evidence based HR, data and analytics 

Moving from Transactional HR to Strategic HR, where HR professionals have wanted to be, for at least two decades. By Cathy Missildine-Martin on her Profitability through human capital blog. 

Paul Kearns is not afraid of controversy and his latest blog demonstrates this well: “A travesty of EB-HR principles – A book review of Transformative HR, by John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan. It’s on Paul’s Evidence Based HR blog. 

Talent management makes money, says Josh Bersin on the Bersin & Associates blog. 

Joanne Sammer. 

How social analytics can help solve workforce woes, from the IBM developer works social business university.  

CSR and sustainability

CSR and HR in the business of trust, by Elaine Cohen on the CSR for HR blog.  

Organisational culture

10 Commandments of  Great Culture, by William Powell.  


Why Does HR. Too Often Kill Innovation?” By Karl Moore on Forbes.


11th Annual Responsible Business Summit 2012, organised by Ethical Corporation May 
8-9th 2012, London. 

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