Book Reviews: Human Resource Management

Aligning the Stars: Organizing Professionals to Win, by Jay W. Lorsch and Thomas J. Tierney. Harvard Business School Press.
The central argument is that key talent is a professional service firm's (PSF) organization strategy. The authors show how 18 outstanding PSF's leverage and build on their premier talent, focusing on how they identify, attract, and retain star performers; get them committed to the firm's strategy; manage them across geographic distance, business lines, and generations; and lead so that both the organization and their stars prosper and feel rewarded. Alignment means creating organizational practices and structures that simultaneously fit the strategy requirements of a business and the needs of its key employees. Recommended. 240 pp. 2002.

The Brave New World of eHR: Human Resource Management in the Digital Age, by Hal G. Gueutal and Dianca L. Stone, eds. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
This book provides an overview and guidelines to the ways in which information technology (computer hardware and software, the Internet, intranets) are profoundly transforming the HR field. Areas covered include: personnel administration; recruiting; selection; distance learning; performance management; compensation. Other major topics covered are trends in delivery methods, affects on system acceptance and effectiveness, and future trends, technologies, and recommendations. An outstanding book. 300 pp. 2005.

Competency-Based Human Resource Management, by David D. Dubois and William J. Rothwell. Davies-Black Publishing.
Competency-based HR management focuses first on the person and then on his or her outputs or results. With all aspects of HR integrated through competencies, rather than through jobs and work activities, the organization has a competency-based HR system. Competencies are enduring while work activities and tasks are transitory, therefore, the book proposes that a person- versus job-oriented perspective makes good sense. Additionally, the authors present a strong business case for taking the competency-based approach to HRM. Driven by six business trends, the competency needs of most organizations are discussed. In response to these trends, HR practitioners must assume responsibility for leading the way in their organizations to add value; the competency-base approach is the single most useful approach to achieving this central goal. For planning and implementing a customer-driven competency-base HR management project, a nine-step model is presented. This is the first of several action-oriented models the authors have developed. Six chapters (representing nearly 55% of the book) are devoted to competency-based 1) HR planning, 2) employee recruitment and selection, 3) training, 4) performance management, 5) rewards, and 6) development. Each of these six chapters presents a multi-step model to serve as a guide for implementing the competency-base approach in these six HR areas. The penultimate chapter presents a 12-step model for transforming to a competency-based approach to HR management. The final chapter takes a brief peek into the future of competency-based HRM. This book is highly successful in offering the big picture; in the process it covers a great deal of ground in a very well organized manner, without delving deeply into details that would distract from the theme. We at Stern's Management Review (HRconsultant.com) very strongly commend this book to all HR professionals. 300 pp. 2004.

Developing Global Executives, by Morgan W. McCall and George P. Hellenbeck. Harvard Business School Press.
Based on extensive research, the book provides insights into the the development of global executives including: the nature of global work, the seven major competencies and five key developmental experiences of these executives, challenges of leveraging these experiences, and much much more. Enormously interesting. 320 pp. 2002.

Employing Bureaucracy: Managers, Unions and the Transformation of Work in the 20th Century, by Sanford M. Jacoby. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
An excellent historical portrait of the employment system in American from 1875 to the present. This second edition addresses the changes that have occurred from the high-point of the bureaucratic system in the 50s and 60s to the present with offshoring, dejobbing, etc.. 314 pp. 2004.

The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want, by David Sirota, Louis Mischkind and Michael Irwin Meltzer. Wharton Center for Human Resources.
Based on 30 years of research, the authors demonstrate a clear relationship between financial performance and employee morale. Data reveals three dimensions of morale, each having subfactors: 1) equity (job security, compensation, respect), 2) achievement (organization purpose and principles, job enablement, job challenge, and feedback, recognition and reward, and 3) camaraderie (teamwork). Chapters are devoted to each of these subjects and provide illustrative examples. Furthermore, the authors have developed a People Performance Model consisting of: leadership; management practices; employee morale; individual performance, customer satisfaction; customer behavior; and business performance. Includes a questionnaire and statistical tables. Exceptionally informative and insightful, this is one of the best books on managing people. 363 pp. 2005"

The Future of Human Resource Management: 64 Thought Leaders Explore the Critical HR Issues of Today and Tomorrow, by Dave Ulrich, Michael Losey, and Sue Meisinger, eds. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
To create this collection, the editors asked 64 HR thought leaders, "What is the future of HR?" Their responses comprise the 45 brief chapters that make up this work, and cover a broad spectrum of issues confronting the field. The chapters are clustered into nine parts that focus on outcomes and results—not actions or activities. This non-traditional organization captures a dynamic, value-generating spirit. The authors' aim was to provide a "road map for the profession," spotlighting HR practitioners' continutal reinvention of themselves to be of value to people, organizations, and societies. The books' core value is its encompassing of so many key and leading-edge topics, written by people who are forging the field's future. The book is a vivid snapshot of the HR field--past, present and future--and the many challenges it's confronting. 424 pp. 2005.

Hire and Keep the Best People: 21 Practical and Proven Techniques You Can Use Immediately., by Brian Tracy. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
This succinct book provides twenty-one basic guidelines for finding, motivating and retaining good people. Practical insights for anyone who managers people. 126 pp. 2001.

The HR Value Proposition, by Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank. Harvard Business School Press.
This book is about what remains in HR's domain, once its transactional work has been automated, centralized, eliminated or outsourced. The authors consider such future-focused questions as: Why does HR matter so much today? How can HR get line managers to be concerned about HR issues? What can HR do to connect with the interests of all stakeholders? How can companies create a strong line-of-sight between business strategy and HR? How does HR contribute to intangible value creation? What are the evolving roles of HR? And how can HR be organized to be strategically focused? Ulrich and Brockbank's central message in answering these questions is that HR must deliver value in the eyes of line management, investors, customers, and employees. The book is organized around an "integrated HR blueprint" consisting of five elements (external realities; stakeholders, and HR practices, resources and professionals) from which fourteen criteria for effective HR functions are developed. A four-phase process for transforming the HR function integrates and applies the book's themes. We strongly recommended this book. 304 pp. 2005.

The Human Capital Edge: 21 People Management Practices Your Company Must Implement (or Avoid) to Maximize Shareholder Value, by Bruce N. Pfau and Ira T. Kay. McGraw-Hill, Inc.
The authors' research has identified specific human resource practices that, when combined, are associated with a 47 percent jump in sharholder value. According to the authors, their data shows that superior HR practices drive financial results more than superior financial results drive HR practices. The book examines 21 practices to avoid or implement. These are clustered into five key areas: recruiting and retention; total reward and accountability; collegial, flexible workplace; open communication between management and employees; and implementing focused HR technology. Chapters are devoted to discussion each of the practices. The book's grounding in research findings makes it uniquely valuable. Very highly recommended. 332 pp. 2002.

Human Resource Essentials: Your Guide to Starting and Running the HR Function, by Lin Grensing-Pophal. Society for Human Resource Management.
A comprehensive guide to starting and managing a human resource function covering: staffing plans and legalities; recruitment and selection; performance management; termination; training and development; compensation and benefits; rules, communication, and record-keeping; safety and security; management reports; and outsourcing and consultants. Includes 17 sample forms and surveys, federal requirements, fifty behavior-based interview questions, resources, and reading list. Excellent for any HR generalist practitioner. 260 pp. 2002.

Human Resource Management (9th Edition) Human Resource Management, by Gary Dessler. Pearson Education Ltd., Prentice Hall.
Presents a very comprehensive overview of the field. Major subject areas covered are: strategic role of human resource management; equal opportunity and the law; recruitment and placement (job analysis; HR planning and recruiting; employee testing and selection; interviewing candidates); training and development (managing strategic organizational renewal; appraising and managing performance; managing careers and fair treatment); compensation (establishing strategic pay plans; pay for performance; financial incentives; benefits and services); labor relations (collective bargaining; employee safety & health); and global HRM. Includes cases, activities, discussion questions, glossary, summaries, recent research findings, and illustrations of practices in high-performance companies. Includes a companion website with interactive study guide, Web links for all the companies and resources listed in the text, a video tutorial, and an HRCI Certification Exam Guide. Very highly recommended. 558 pp. 2003.

Human Resource Management, by Raymond A. Noe, John R. Hollenbeck, Barry Gerhart, and Patrick M. Wright. McGraw-Hill, Inc.
This text covers: HRM in its environment; acquisition and training; assessment and development of HRM; compensation; and special topics in HRM including collective bargaining and labor relations, managing human resources globally, and strategically managing the HR function. Chapters end with an article from BusinessWeek, questions, and a Web exercise. Includes special boxed areas that focus on competing: in the New Economy, through globalization, by meeting shareholder needs, and through high-performance work systems. Glossary. Supplements for students and instructors includes student CD-ROM and access to a special website for: tips; links; updates; current reading from annual editions; news; Web research guide; and access to articles from 6,300 sources. Also available: instructor's manual; test bank; test generator; instructor presentation CD-ROM; powerPoint slides for each chapter; online learning center. This is an incredibly rich and comprehensive text that introduces HRM in the context of real-world issues and challenges. 740 pp. 2003.

Human Resource Management in the Knowledge Economy: New Challenges, New Roles, New Capabilities, by Mark L. Lengnick-Hall and Cynthia A. Lengnick-Hall. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Explains how the knowledge economy presents new challenges for HRM and demands new capabilities and roles. The authors examine these roles using examples from business, and discuss the implications for HRM research and practice. The book is very rich in new perspectives and idea. Among these are that HRM can focus on external, as well as internal, customers; serve as a steward of human capital; become involved in knowledge management as a knowledge facilitator; a relationship builder, strengthening informal connections both within and external to the firm; and rapid deployment specialist, getting the right people to where they are needed in quickly. This book stretches the imagination about how HRM can create value. 204 pp. 2002.

Human Resource Management in the Knowledge Economy : New Challenges, New Roles, New Capabilities, by Mark L. Lengnick-Hall and Cynthia A. Lengnick-Hall, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Explains how the knowledge economy presents new challenges for HRM and demands new capabilities and roles. The authors examine these roles using examples from business, and discuss the implications for HRM research and practice. The book is very rich in new perspectives and idea. Among these are that HRM can focus on external, as well as internal, customers; serve as a steward of human capital; become involved in knowledge management as a knowledge facilitator; a relationship builder, strengthening informal connections both within and external to the firm; and rapid deployment specialist, getting the right people to where they are needed in quickly. This book stretches the imagination about how HRM can create value. 204 pp. 2002.

Human Resources Business Process Outsourcing: Transforming How HR Gets Its Work Done, by Edward E. Lawer, Dave Ulrich, Jac Fitz-enz, and James C. Madden. Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
The thrust of this book is about how to make the HRM function effective by redefining it. The authors explore outsourcing transactional work as a middle ground between being trapped in an administrative role or becoming strategic at the cost of abandoning these duties. The book addresses such basic questions as: How do new business realities increase the demand for HR services and actions? What can HR departments do to deliver value? How well will the new business models for delivering HR work? And how can HR effectiveness be measured? The book examines a major HR business process outsourcer in action and provide case studies of four major companies that have reinvented their HR functions. This is a must read for anyone charged with managing the HRM function. 255 pp. 2004.

Human Resource Professional's Guide Career Guide: Building a Position of Strength, by Jeanne Palmer and Martha I. Finney. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
This book provides inspiration and practical information for readers at almost any stage of their careers. It is about cultivating an HR career over time. The chapters examine core competencies and key characteristics and how to: tell the stories behind career choices and accomplishments; lay out and track your career plan; plan your next career move well in advance; build a powerful network; overcome career missteps; come to terms with what you can't change mitigate hazards to career prospects; deal with senior-level interviews; and prepare for unexpected changes that offer new opportunities. Includes interviews with senior HR executives that provide lessons learned and insights. Appendices offer a map of career paths linked with qualifications and a list of valuable websites. A 'must read' for every HR practitioner. 250 pp. 2004.

The Human Resources Program-Evaluation Handbook, by Jack E. Edwards, John C.Scott, and Nambury S. Raju, editors. Sage Publications, Inc.
An in-depth source of information about state-of-the-art procedures for evaluating and improving HR programs. In addition to providing a framework, the book's major sections concern: staffing; evaluating and rewarding employees; employee effectiveness; team and organizational effectiveness; organizational communications; health and work-life balance; and issues spanning HR programs. Many of the chapters offer examples of evaluation methods or instruments, cases, or guidelines. Includes a chapter on HR strategic planning and a glossary. The text is very complete in its scope and impressive in its detailed content. Highly recommended. 571 pp. 2003.

The Human Resources Scorecard: Measuring the Return on Investment, by Jack J Phillips.Ron D. Stone and Patricia Pulliam Phillips. Butterworth-Heinemann.
Provides a comprehensive, practical presentation of ROI for HR using an ROI model and 10 strategies, e.g., pilot studies, forecasting models, trendlines. The model isolates the effects of HR and shows how to convert the data into monetary values. The elements encompass evaluation planning, data collection, analysis, and reporting. Chapters detail the model's elements, with numerous guidelines, techniques, formulas, examples and illustrations. Chapters also discuss: forecasting ROI and implementation issues. A key feature is the presentation of cases on: sexual harassment prevention; competency-based pay system; absenteeism reduction program; stress management; safety incentive program; executive leadership development; and technology-based learning. Includes an HR function assessment test. This book is a 'must' for HR practitioners! 518 pp. 2002.

The Human Resources Software Handbook: Evaluating Technology Solutions for Your Organization, by James G. Meade, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
This book guides you through the process of evaluating and selecting HR software. Part one gives you an introduction to the marketplace, the players, and the software features. Part two provides a step-by-step guide for through the latest process for evaluating software including defining your needs, getting the right information from vendors, and shows how to script a demo and check references. Part three introduces best practice in the crunch-time of software selection. Sections four and five examine HRIS system vendors for smaller and mid-sized companies. Includes an appendix of vendors and a CD-ROM of selected programs. An outstanding, information-rich and very comprehensive, reference, accessible to those who are not techies. 375 pp. 2003.

The Human Value of the Enterprise: Valuing People as Assets: Monitoring, Measuring, Managing, by Andrew Mayo. Nicholas Brealey Publishing (London).
The book aims to answer the following: why is it essential to have a system of measurement for human assets? How should we go about measurement? And, How can this make us manage more effectively and create more ultimate value? Mayo discusses: the meaning of value and the role of people in value creation; the process of measurement in the context of people; the intrinsic worth of people as assets; how to maximize human capital through acquisition, retention and growth; motivation and commitment; how to define and track critical indicators; managing the human side of acquisitions and mergers; and current trends in reporting human capital measures. An appendix reviews the literature on the measurement of intellectual capital. This is a first rate book. Highly recommended. 307 pp. 2001.

Leveraging the New Human Capital: Adaptive Strategy, Results Achieved, and Stories of Transformation, by Sandra Burud and Marie Tumolo. Davies-Black Publishing.
This is an ambitious overview of new approaches to human resources. Key to the book are five adaptive strategies: 1) choosing to invest in people; 2) adopting a new set of beliefs; 3) redefining organizational culture; 4) transforming management practices; and 5) ensuring a fit between the first four strategies based on purpose, culture, and management practices and policies. These adaptive strategies involve rethinking how to achieve business results, reexamining how work is organized, and transforming how people are managed. The book concludes with the effects of adaptive cultures and practices on organizational performance. This is an excellent grand tour of new ideas and practices in organization and human resource management. Extensive references. 398 pp. 2004.

Managing Human Resources, by Wayne F. Cascio. McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Looking for a good introductory text? This is one the best. Key subject areas covered includes: financial impact of human resource management (HRM) activities; legal context of employment decisions; diversity; analyzing work and planning for people; recruiting; staffing; training; performance management; managing careers; pay and incentive systems; benefits; union representation and collective bargaining; procedural justice and ethics in employee relations; safety, health and employee assistance programs; and the international dimensions of HRM. Provides numerous examples, exercises, special topic articles and a glossary. The book is gear to small, medium and large companies. A terrific introduction to the field. Very highly recommended. 703 pp. 2003.

New Directions in Human Resource Management, by Chester R. Schriesheim and Linda L. Neider, eds. Information Age Publishing.
Reports on the highlights of research covering six studies: 1) customer feedback as a critical performance dimension; 2) accountability in human resource management; 3) ergonomic training and organizational stress; and 4) research on political perceptions; 5) relationship between group incentive plans and alignment with organizational goals and other factors relating to performance; 6) and evaluating recruiting effectiveness. These scholarly research reports contain some very interesting findings and conclusions. 170 pp. 2003.

No Best Way: An Evolutionary Perspective on Human Resources Management, by Stephen M. Colarelli Quorum Books / Praeger Publishers.
This book reflects the author's belief that problems of theoretical coherence, utilization and effectiveness of HRM practices can best be addressed by an evolutionary perspective, including sociocultural evolution and evolutionary psychology. The title reflects the view of successful HRM must emerge in the context or the organization and its environment; there is no one best way. The author's aim is to show that the mechanical perspective in HRM, which presumes that expert-designed interventions will produce intended outcomes, has outlived its usefulness and show ways an evolutionary approach can be applied, specifically in hiring and training. The book presents penetrating thought, incorporates an historical perspective, and presents unconventional insights. 334 pp. 2003.

Organizational Success through Effective Through Effective Human Resources Management, by Ronald R. Sims. Greenwood Press, Inc. (Quorum Books).
Argues that the most important determinant of organizational success in coming decades will be people management. Accordingly, human resources is pivotal. The book covers all areas of HRM including: HRM and organization strategy; the legal environment; job analysis; recruiting and selection; human resources development; career development; compensation and benefits; safety and health; labor relations; and international HRM. A well written, accessible, and excellent overview and introduction to the full gamut of the human resource management field. Strongly recommended. 408 pp. 2002.

Responsible Restructuring: Creative and Profitable Alternatives to Layoffs, by Wayne F. Cascio. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
This book is the product of extensive research on the approaches companies take to restructuring. Cascio found a huge distinction between those that see people as a cost (the downsizers) versus assets to be developed (the responsible restructurers). The book presents an analysis of the financial consequences of alternative restructuring strategies in terms of profitability and attractiveness as an investment. Cascio explodes myths about downsizing and presents the actual facts. He examines the approaches of the responsible restructurers, i.e., high-performance work practices, and explores the practices and experiences of many companies. The final chapter illustrates what to do, and not do, when restructuring. Rich in insights and sound advice. 125 pp. 2002.

Solutions for Human Resource Managers, Society for Human Resource Management Book Store.
Presented in a Q&A format, this book is based on key questions received by SHRM's information center. The several hundred questions and answers, covering an enormous number of issues, are clustered into nine chapters; human resource management; employment practices; staffing; HRD; compensation; benefits; employee and labor relations; health, safety and security; and international HRM. Highly recommended. 225 pp. 2000.

The Talent Management Handbook: Creating Organizational Excellence by Identifying, Developing, & Promoting People, by Lance A. Berger and Dorothy R.Berger, eds. McGraw-Hill, Inc.
The concept of talent management is a systematic, proactive approach to the integration of business and organizational planning, assessment, succession planning, performance improvement, competency enhancement, and career growth. Contributors explain: how a talent management plan and process are developed; the four steps to creating a system; how competencies create economic value; finding high-potential talent throughout the organization; and much more. The Talent Management Handbook breaks important new ground. 452 pp. 2004.

Talent Management Systems: Best Practices in Technology Solutions, by Allan Schweyer. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Talent management involves managing the supply, demand and flow of talent in an organization. This book is about technologies, methods and best practices in staffing, retention, learning, performance, and workforce planning. It contains best practices for designing, implementing and optimizing complex Web-based talent management systems (TMS). Web services and protocols that facilitate data sharing and integration between disparate Web-based software at lower costs are examined, as well as how providers are designing software products that focus on all aspects of the HR value chain, from candidate sourcing to hiring, and beyond. This book puts you on the cutting edge of HR, providing insights into the very latest concepts and applications of technology for talent management. Excellent. 420 pp. 2004.

Treat People Right! by Edward E. Lawler III, Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
The author's goal is to provide organizations with a blueprint for treating people right and, by doing so, creating virtuous spiral in which people and their organization both gain through performance, financial results and rewards. Part one presents the strategic foundation of the book, based on a the idea of the virtuous spiral. Chapters 2 and 3 cover what makes organizations and people effective. The remaining chapters discuss the seven principles of treating people right which involves: attraction and retention; recruitment and development; work design; goals; rewards; and leadership. An epilog discusses managing change. This book is right on the money. Read it and put its messages to use. 253 pp. 2003.

Why Don't You Want What I Want? How to Win Support for Your Ideas without Hard Sell, Manipulation, or Power Plays, by Rick Maurer. Bard Books, Inc.
According to Maurer, many books on change and influence focus on making a compelling case for our cause. That's important, but not sufficient. This book asks you to expand your thinking beyond the idea itself to include the relationship with the other person. It focuses on you and your relationship with a person you want to influence. Drawing on the ideas of several great thinkers, it explores why people offer their support and why they resist ideas; the author believes it essential to understand both sides of this coin. The work is about refining the way you try to influence others to accept your thinking. Maurer's offers many very thoughtful insights. You can really learn from this book. Highly recommended. 220 pp. 2002.

Workforce Scorecard: Managing Human Capital to Execute Strategy, by Mark A. Huselid, Brian E. Becker, and Richard W. Beatty. Harvard Business School Press.
This book casts a bright light on how and why an effective workforce strategy is crucial for the execution of business strategy. This vital link is explored in depth. The authors show how building an HR function links to building an effective workforce that drives business success. The four elements of the scorecard form a series of building blocks culminating in strategy execution: 1) workforce mind-set and culture, 2) workforce competencies, 3) leadership and workforce behavior, and 4) workforce success. Ideally, workforce success is measured by its impact on business success (carrying out strategy). An extensive list of metrics is provided for these four elements. The authors bring together the HR scorecard, the workforce scorecard, and the balanced scorecard. There is an extensive discussion of both strategy execution and the role of communication and learning programs. A final chapter provides a diagnostic tool for assessing the big picture—the capability to manage and measure the human capital dimension of strategy execution. Finally, someone has got it right! People turn strategy into business results. Measure that! 2005.

Working GlobeSmart: 12 People Skills for Doing Business Across borders, by Ernest Gundling, Davies-Black Publishing.
The book clarifies common pitfalls in interacting with foreign counterparts and offers solutions structured around twelve people skills: establishing credibility; giving and receiving feedback; obtaining information; evaluating people; building global teamwork; training and development; selling; negotiating; strategic planning; transferring knowledge; innovating; and managing change. The book is based on inputs from experienced country and regional experts. Includes numerous examples, charts, tables and appendixes. Includes chapter summaries and review questions. Bountiful in substance. 408 pp. 2003.