Dictionary of Human Resources and Personnel Management

I laughed when I saw this. Has our esteemed profession become so obscured by elitism that we’ve developed our own language?

Dictionary of Human Resources and Personnel Management
By A Ivanovic and PH Collin
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 400 Price: £9.99 ISBN: 0747566232 Reviewed by Alison Norris
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Have our aspirations for veneration as a chartered profession meant that we have developed illogical terminology impossible to comprehend without the aid of a dictionary? This book is in its third edition, so there must be a demand.

Having pushed my cynicism to one side, however, I flicked through. As with any other dictionary, words are listed in alphabetical order. Words to be defined are in bold, arranged two columns to a page, with guidance on pronunciation, a brief definition and in many cases, examples of correct usage.

There are words that would challenge standard computerised spell-checkers, such as ‘andragogy’ and ‘annuitant’.

There are some interesting Americanisms for the transatlantic professionals among us, such as ‘gold circle rate’, ‘hike’ and ‘gravy job’. And there are some useful abbreviations, such as OPB and GOQ – abbreviations that are so commonplace, we take them for granted.

‘Yappy’ is perhaps my most favourite word gleaned from reading through (meaning “a young affluent parent”, for those who needed to know). I admit, however, to being slightly disappointed at finding no listing of words beginning with ‘X’.

‘Central purchasing’ gets a mention (surely that’s not an HRism?), as does ‘large’, ‘point’, ‘hot’ and ‘real’, so the span of coverage is quite wide. And yet, there is so much more that could have been included. The ‘Peter Principle’ is mentioned, but not the ‘Pareto’ principle; and what about ‘blue skies thinking’, ‘mind-mapping’ and ‘change agent’ – everyday HR speak for some of us, and well worth a mention.

I enjoyed skimming through this book. However, as with any dictionary in a foreign country, it will not help you speak the language. It will help you decipher the odd word, but if you want to communicate with the professionals, you’ll need a phrase book!

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Alison Norris is HR business partner at the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

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