It’s that time of year again. You are free to read what you like. Just occasionally, magazines are informative and useful – this one, for instance.
However at this time of year the beach beckons. What are you going to read? Is the HR fraternity the same as the rest of the population in choosing the top 10 novels on the airport shelves? Or is this the one time in the year when you can sit down with a book about people at work issues and really wrap your heads round some core truths about personnel and human resource work?
One of the great unwritten academic monographs should be entitled “Where do HR managers get their ideas from?” Are there people in the HR world whose next book is awaited with a fraction of the anticipation enjoyed by Harry Potter? Hardly.
HR is one of the least book-learned managerial disciplines. Most HR managers pick up their people skills at work direct. Nevertheless, there are some outside influences that work their way into our consciousness from a variety of sources. Some dread the return of the CEO from his MBA re-union group dinner armed with the question, “Why don’t we do this?” Others attend the growing number of one-day conferences held in the smallest rooms underground in some of our most famous hotels. Others ask their computer for advice.
One author who never writes anything but practical wisdom will send me off to my Greek beach. Along with my collection of novels, I will pack Bob Garratt’s latest book, The Twelve Organizational Capabilities – valuing people at work. He is the best advocate of treating people properly as the best route to organisational success. He writes of “incapable organisations”. He writes of how learning organisations utilise their human resources with skill and sensitivity. He knows that “there are now so many examples of the disastrous consequences of the unthinking application of… over-rational, action-fixated and cost-cutting approaches to organisational change that the damage caused by them can now begin to be assessed”.
I shall be taking Bob Garratt’s book down to the sea. The last piece of paper I have thrown across my office en route to the bin is a short report in The Times that quotes the Conservatives as pledging themselves to repealing the trade union recognition clauses in the Employment Relations Act because they encourage strike ballots to be held. I thought that accepting the minimum wage was a first step towards a stumbling consensus on industrial relations/HR law. Clearly, my friends and I are still the enemy within. If only the unreconstructed class warriors in the Tory Party would read and absorb Bob Garratt’s books on the beach this year. Then we can all relax by the sea knowing that the beast from fifty thousand fathoms is back in its box.