Towards a new HR mindset

HR departments are ailing and aging. Some are dying. Some may be dead already. 

That’s the message that will ring repeatedly in your head when reading the book – if your HR department continues with its traditional functions such as salary administration, recruitment, meting out punishments or formulating HR policies. 

The book shares with us the forces at work that can be opportunities or threats for HR so that HR professionals act and act now to face the challenges in the business landscape that are already taking place. 

If you prefer to read Chapter 10 (Human Resource Management and Business Performance) first, that would not be a problem. It's perfectly fine, too, to jump straight to Chapter 28 (Transforming Your HR Department Into A Start-Up Professional Services Firm).  

That's because the book is non-linear, i.e. it’s a collection of 34 essays (hence, 34 chapters) by – and, as a corollary, represents diverse views of – HR professionals, consultants and professors. This makes the book an engaging and interesting read. 

The essays look to the future in five areas. Here’s a quick feel on what you can expect. 

Wrestling with people issues or challenges such as how to get extraordinary results from ordinary people? The essay by Yahoo’s senior vice-president of HR would be insightful. Or wrangling with issues arising from a long-serving or aging workforce?  

There’s an essay that outlines how HR can prepare for it by assessing an organisation and employees’ needs, and by developing HR’s understanding of the organisation and its skills at handling change.  

Another essay gives tips on how to manage different generations in the same workplace. 

Or looking for emerging HR practices? Then read the essays on how HR can help you to say “goodbye” to traditional work models, and “hello” to building or instilling pride to work and using data to show that HR enhances organisational competitiveness. 

There’s also an essay on how a financial services firm created an in-house coaching team. Another diagnoses “the Icarus syndrome” and discusses ways HR can better select and groom potential high fliers to increase their odds of success in their climb up the corporate ladder. 

Interested in how to build an innovative culture and create employees’ loyalty? Zoom in on Linda Gratton’s essay which focuses on innovation, adaptation and flexibility to choose their jobs, their rewards and benefits, locations, and work schedules. 

Or keen to learn more leadership and change issues in HR? The essay that outlines the skills today's leaders need to keep up in turbulent and innovative times would interest you. Other essays discuss the relation between leadership and business strategy and how to drive effective change.  

How about a peep into the future of HR? The section provocatively asks if HR faces a coming demise or new beginning.  

One essay talks about six strategies a HR head can use to become a trusted CEO advisor and a truly valued partner to senior management. Yet another urges HR to think of itself and operate as a business. 

Expect this book, including its foreword by a Harvard professor, to challenge conventional HR thinking, assumptions and beliefs. It is thought-provoking and helps you to acquire a diverse perspective of what’s ahead for HR. Here’s a quick feel: 

·Most mergers and acquisitions fail because of people issues. So, why isn’t the HR department in the process of due diligence in mergers and acquisitions and integration? 

·Change cannot be managed. So, why does HR keep emphasising change management and not strategic leadership for change to be effective? 

·How would your subordinates respond when you are momentarily absent or too far from the frontline to render meaningful assistance in times of a crisis? 

Ultimately, this book is about changing your HR mindset to prepare for the 21st century. Don’t miss it if you consider yourself a true HR professional. 

I do, however, hope that essays on these three areas would be included in the book’s next edition: Emotional Quotient, HR Branding and Outsourcing.  


l Guest writer Dr Goh welcomes feedback at 

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