Magic for HR professionals

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is a neat trick, if you can do it, though probably not terribly useful in real terms. Magic isn’t that helpful in HR because it is difficult to describe, measure and compare and really HR should be rather more scientific.

Wikipedia says that modern Western magicians generally state magic’s primary purpose to be personal spiritual growth. At 10Eighty we believe in personal development and we like to keep an open mind, but we do practical work with organisations and managers to help them improve what their people actually do at the sharp end.

Magic may well work if you believe in it; if it is the ability to bring about change in the universe by focus and sheer will, then a lot of us do it without knowing. The truth is, the things you want can be made to happen, but you better be well prepared and have done the groundwork and then be ready to deal with the consequences; often what we want is not what we need.

Magic of HR HR, generally, makes decisions and manages change based on expertise, evidence, resources and context. We all have to do more with less and find innovative solutions at the drop of a hat but spells won’t help, what HR professionals really need is commercial awareness, political savvy, professionalism and the strategic awareness that gives them credibility within the organisation.

Follow the evidence

Evidence-based HR (EBHR) is a useful place to focus. Boudreau and Jesuthasan (2011) suggest five principles of evidence-based change. For them, business-thinking is linking EBHR with a systemic view of human capital management.

  • Logic-driven analytics – using logic models, data and analysis of key issues.
  • Segmentation – to understand the strategic value of different employee groups and treat segments differently where it makes sense.
  • Risk leverage – to understand HR risk as it affects the business.
  • Integration and synergy – to inter-connect HR across processes and organisation units.
  • Optimisation – to focus on HR interventions with the biggest business impact.

Rob Briner, professor of organisational psychology at Bath University’s School of Management, says “The term ‘evidence-based’ describes something people always do, which is basing decisions on information, but doing more of it, doing it better and doing it more critically”.

Critical thinking

HR professionals should be curious, willing to question received wisdom and management fads, able to apply critical thinking skills in exploring alternatives, seeking understanding and testing assumptions about the effectiveness of activities and decisions.

Rousseau and Barends (2011) suggest that EBHR means making decisions, promoting practices and advising the organisation’s leadership through the conscientious combination of four sources of information:

  • the best available scientific evidence;
  • reliable and valid organisational facts, metrics and assessments;
  • practitioner reflection and judgement;
  • the concerns of affected stakeholders.

HR-Grapvine-Magic-of-HR-2017We work in globalised environment that is unpredictable, complex and volatile, and HR managers need to be realistic about what can be learned from past practice. We need to learn how to respond quickly and positively to uncertainty by employing flexibility and versatility in the face of unpredictable events and talent shortage.

The Magic of HR

Regular visitors to these page will recall that we’re sponsoring the HR Grapevine annual conference “The Magic of HR” on Thursday 16 March 2017 at The Brewery 52 Chiswell Street, Moorgate, EC1Y 4SD.

Click here for more information about the event and to secure your place (tickets are still available).

Join the conversation

If you’re going, or if you can’t make it, you can join the conversation about magical HR on Twitter on the day using #HRGV2017

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.