The ONLY 10 Articles that a HR Must Read

Welcome to our latest blog post, dedicated to every Human Resources (HR) professional striving to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-dynamic corporate world. As HR practitioners, you play an integral role in shaping the workplace culture, fostering employee engagement, and propelling strategic decisions that drive organizational success. Your ability to manage people, understand organizational behavior, and apply strategic thinking to human capital is vital.

In this blog post, we have curated a list of the “Top 10 HBR Articles Every HR Professional Must Read”. These articles span a wide array of topics from talent management to organizational strategy, from leadership development to diversity and inclusion. Each article provides valuable insights that can enhance your understanding and inspire innovative practices in your HR role.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and explore these thought-provoking pieces that promise to elevate your HR expertise to new heights!

(Note: Each title is linked to the respective HBR article)

McCord details Netflix’s HR reinvention, emphasizing hiring mature individuals, fostering logic, common sense, and no formal policies. Key aspects include truthful performance feedback, generous severance, managers building teams, and leaders modeling behavior. This strategy repositions HR personnel as businesspeople and innovators.

The ‘agile lite’ shift in HR, as explained by Cappelli and Tavis, includes immediate feedback, coaching, management of team dynamics, and changes in compensation and recruitment. Firms like IBM, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and the Bank of Montreal are leading the way in this transformation. With frequent salary adjustments and swift, nimble recruitment, along with new learning and development practices, these organizations exemplify the adoption of agile principles, enhancing adaptability and resilience in a rapidly changing business environment.

Penned by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, the article discusses Deloitte’s redesigned performance management system, which separates compensation decisions from day-to-day performance management. The new system emphasizes agility, individualization, and real-time feedback, underpinned by constant learning and reliable performance data. The system introduces ‘performance snapshots’ and weekly check-ins with managers, moving away from backward-looking assessments. The design was influenced by ‘idiosyncratic rater effects’ and an empirical study of high-performing teams.

While people analytics uses employee data to inform talent management decisions, its focus on individual attributes overlooks key performance factors. Relational analytics, proposed by Paul Leonardi and Noshir Contractor, underscores the importance of relationships in predicting outcomes like influence, efficiency, innovation, workplace silos, and retention. By identifying ‘structural signatures’ in social networks and leveraging ‘digital exhaust’ from internal communications, this approach also predicts who will generate good ideas, offering a holistic view of workforce dynamics.

In his article, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz articulates the need for 21st-century talent spotting to focus on potential in response to rapid changes in geopolitics, business, and industries. He exemplifies this with the case of a family-owned electronics retailer intending to professionalize its management and expand operations. The CEO, despite having relevant competencies, couldn’t adapt to technological, competitive, and regulatory changes. Fernández-Aráoz identifies five markers of potential and stresses the importance of retaining high potential through development opportunities that tackle evolving job requirements.

Rob Goffee, an emeritus professor at the London Business School, and Gareth Jones, a visiting professor at the IE Business School, explore the relationship between authenticity in leadership and effective workplaces. They identify six essential imperatives from global executive surveys for an ideal work environment. Implementing these elements, they admit, is challenging, requiring careful balancing of competing interests and time reallocation. Companies like Arup, LVMH, Waitrose, and McDonald’s exemplify varying degrees of implementation, reflecting executives’ pursuit of authenticity in their organizations.

Dobbin and Kalev analyze the failure of traditional diversity programs, mentioning firms like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. They critique compulsory courses, negative incentives, and outdated advice from diversity experts. Despite big data and social science research, progress in U.S. commercial banks and Silicon Valley is limited. They recommend manager-involved recruiting initiatives, mentoring programs, and diversity task forces for improved results.

In ‘When No One Retires’, part of ‘The Aging Workforce’ series, Paul Irving, associated with Milken Institute and USC Leonard Davis School, examines the unprecedented demographic shift where, for the first time in U.S. history, retirement-age individuals will outnumber younger ones. He emphasizes that 10,000 Americans turn 65 daily and the global elderly population will reach 2 billion by 2050, impacting consumer behavior, business management, and retirement planning.

Involving 1,500 firms, the study shows AI’s most significant impact is in decision making, product personalization, and in performing physical labor tasks. It highlights the importance of training AI agents and ensuring their responsible use in roles like data crunching, information gathering, and customer service. The article underscores the concept of collaborative intelligence and the need for business process redesign. It argues against replacing human roles with AI for short-term productivity gains, advocating instead for the integration of AI to augment human capabilities and enhance operational flexibility, speed, scalability, and service personalization.

Charan, Barton, and Carey, citing McKinsey and Conference Board studies, underscore the undervaluation of human capital by CEOs. They advocate for a redefined CHRO role, involving a CEO-issued contract and strategic tasks like diagnosing people-related problems. They emphasize the CHRO’s potential contribution to brand recognition, market share, and margin, using GE and BlackRock as successful examples.

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