Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The HR Value Proposition, by Dave ULRICH and Wayne BROCKBANK

This book is a recommendation from Bryan JACKSON, who told me it is one of his favorite. Bryan is a senior HR professional based in Indiana and the cofounder of a web agency called East44 (www.east44.com). You can find more about Bryan on bjackson.east44.com/about-2/

In this book, HR superstar Dave ULRICH and his associate Wayne BROCKBANK tell us how to build an HR strategy aimed at creating real value for the complete range of an organization’s stakeholders: internal and external.

Broadening the impact of HR

While a traditional approach to human resources would focus on what HR can bring to employees and line managers, the first think the authors do here is to broaden the scope. They invite HR pros to scan external business realities like technology, economic and regulatory issues, demographics and globalization and they tell us how HR should play an active role in relation to:

  • Investors. An organization’s market value is the addition of tangibles and intangibles. Intangibles are qualitative, immaterial characteristics of a firm that have a positive influence on its stock value: quality of top management, ability to change quickly, customer orientation, internal collaboration are only a few examples. HR professionals should be investor-literate and understand how to reinforce this type of capabilities.
  • Customers. We HR pros should understand what is valuable to our organization’s most important external clients. We should put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and ask what kind of an impact our decisions can have on their experience. When hiring new employees or designing a performance system, for example, we should keep the customer’s in mind.
  • Line managers. Their role is to implement the firm’s strategy and to achieve its goals. How do we contribute? By building trust with these managers and by helping our organization acquire or develop relevant capabilities, like talent, a shared mindset, accountability, innovation, customer connection, etc.
  • Employees. Employees will bring value if they think they will get value in return. We should build an Employee Value Proposition that specifies what they will get from the firm. We should also ensure employees have the relevant abilities to implement the organization’s strategy.

How to adapt HR strategies, processes, organization and competencies to this new perspective?

To build an HR strategy that adds value, we should first analyze the impact that global external trends have on our business and reach good internal business literacy, with a perfect understanding of the organization’s strategy. Then we should focus on culture: which traits of our organization (its capabilities) and our people (their abilities) do best fit the strategy? Now, which HR practices will contribute to developing these traits? And what HR competencies do we need to have to implement these practices?

Dave ULRICH has famously analyzed the different roles of HR managers:
  • Employee advocate
  • Human capital developer
  • Strategic partner
  • Functional expert
  • HR leader

In this book, he explains how each of these roles adds value to stakeholders.

ULRICH, BROCKBANK and others also conducted a vast study about HR competencies. In the book, they show which competencies add more value.

How is this book useful to HR practitioners?

As an HR pro, you want to read this book if:
  • You need to define your department’s strategy and organization;
  • You want to gain credibility and impact among the top leadership team;
  • You want yourself and your HR colleagues to develop the right competencies to add maximum value to the organization.
This very serious and visionary book provides the theoretical insight and some useful practical tools to reach these objectives.

  • The HR Value Proposition
  • By Dave ULRICH and Wayne BROCKBANK
  • Harvard Business Press
  • 281 pages
  • Available on Amazon.com:

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