Transformational HR

Transformational HR

Author: Perry Timms

Reviewed by: Emma Browes

This is a book that does what it says on the tin.  The blurb says that it puts “transformational HR in context, exploring what has and hasn’t worked.  It sets out a vision of what HR can be.” and this is exactly what it does, and it does in an engaging and practical way.

From the beginning Transformational HR is very much grounded in reality, or a least a version of reality that rings true with me.  You will find all the words you might expect from a book about what HR can do to be transformational – Lean UX, holacracy, disruptive, futurology, work-as-a-platform.

But if that sort of thing isn’t your bag, or you’re simply thinking ‘eh?’,  don’t be put off.  This book brings a refreshing clarity and perspective on the HR profession in the current context.  Not faddy, but grounded in experience & case studies of ‘real’ organisations, River Island for example.

I found the descriptions of the context particularly helpful – asking ‘How have we got to this?’ and ‘What’s HR ever done for us?’.   Think less of the introspective ‘woe are we,  no one understands us’ and more of a rolling up of sleeves and cracking on with transformation knowing that value to the organisation will follow.  When HR does get confident and good at it’s own PR, so will appropriate position & recognition.  All of this is delivered with respect and an acknowledgement of the everyday pressures and demands on the HR function.

What I really like about this book is that it does not forget the importance of what the rest of the world sees, experiences and judges us on (recruitment & selection, pay & benefits etc) and outlining what HR professionals need to be (or become) practiced and skilled in to drive ‘more progressive versions of the surface level practices’.

As Perry says it is “a little like having a super-hero alter ego in HR”.  “Transactional HR does not switch off waiting for transformational HR and nor does transformational HR need transactional HR to totally pause whilst it does it’s thing.”

The vision that I take away from this book is one where we find ‘transformation as usual’, not a separate ‘thing’. It is the day job.

I checked with the internet and my superhero name is The Silver Shadow. Just so you know.

Emma Browes – Senior HR Officer at Leeds City Council

Published by Kogan Page