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Problems with Standard Approaches to Human Resources (HR)

Posted on January 27, 2014
Connie ManiscalcoWritten by Connie Maniscalco | Email author

Often we hear much about the best practices in Human Resources Management (HRM).  So much so that there is frequently confusion about what that exactly means and what the universal practices really are.  While a segment of these best practices can be applied comprehensively in most organizations, what might be considered an HRM best practice in one corporate culture, industry, or organization might not be transportable as a best practice in another.

HRM best practices can be highly dependent on the organizational culture, demographic composition, socio-economic factors, employer size and resources, and lastly the legal/ regulatory environment in which the organization is operating.  Seemingly, an HRM best practice that is effective in one environment can’t simply be adopted and implemented in another without considering the overarching influences and implications of organization structure.

Essentially, if an adopted HRM practice works well for a small commercial entity, that does not automatically mean it will be effective for implementation in a complex organization.  All too often “cookie cutter” solution strategies seem to be that “easy fix” and while they may be fiscally prudent early on, they may subsequently fail and cost an organization exponentially more due to the problems the failure produced.  This is where soliciting the expertise and acumen of an HR consulting firm makes the difference between compliance, cost savings, and success or continued frustration because the 70% solution was just not good enough!

For instance, one of the leading challenges that globally confront enterprises worldwide is constructing and sustaining a strong talent pipeline.  If the design and implementation of this strategy is flawed, the results can have a long lasting negative impact.  Not only are contemporary organizations required to evolve for shifting demographics and work-force preferences, but they must also concurrently build new capabilities, revitalize their organizations, and contend with new competitors who are competing for the same talent pool.

In a recent MIT Sloan Management Review, Stahl, et. al., noted from their research that:

The range of talent management issues facing multinational companies today is extremely broad. Companies must recruit and select talented people, develop them, manage their performance, compensate and reward them and try to retain the strongest performers. Although every organization must pay attention to each of these areas, our research convinced us that competitive advantage in talent management doesn’t just come from identifying key activities (for example, recruiting and training) and then implementing “best practices.” Rather, we found that successful companies adhere to six key principles: (1) alignment with strategy, (2) internal consistency, (3) cultural embeddedness, (4) management involvement, (5) a balance of global and local needs and (6) employer branding through differentiation. (Günter K. Stahl, 2011)[i]

HRM best practices are only “best” while they’re applied in a given context; what works for one company may not work in another. The indispensable requirement for internal alignment with organizational culture, strategy, and environment devises profound implications for talent management.  Organizations cannot simply imitate the perceived highest performers; they must adapt talent management practices to their own unique strategies and circumstances.  Moreover, bring them into line with their leadership philosophy and value system, while at the same time finding ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors (Günter K. Stahl, 2011).

As a client-centric business focused on custom solutions for each unique problem, Helios HR believes in delivering the best possible service tailored to each client’s needs.  Our experienced professionals are passionate about human resources and helping your organization achieve its goals.


[i] Günter K. Stahl, I. B. (2011, 12 21). Six Principles of Effective Global Talent Management. Retrieved 12 30, 2013, from MIT Sloan Management Review: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/six-principles-of-effective-global-talent-management/

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