This article aims to justify the existence of the HR function and to define the changes that it must undergo in order to survive. The common theme is that HR must deliver benefits to the business and that it should focus on outcomes rather than activities. Editor Dave Ulrich uses the contributors’ work to justify his theory that both commitment and competence will be needed in the business world of the future. Indeed, one is useless without the other.
The link between factors such as HR management, business results, organisational strategy and the “softer” business issues is a constant thread throughout the article. It discusses HR’s role in defining strategy as well as factors that facilitate the implementation of strategy, such as managing change and knowledge management. The HR practitioner is also measured against other professionals, such as lawyers, doctors and airline pilots, to highlight the significance of the decisions they are faced with, and the importance of making the choices.
I was amused to come across the phrase “HR with attitude”. This concept is expanded to convey the idea that combining HR attitude with competence is what makes an HR practitioner a full professional. The individual contributors use case studies to put the various theories into context, and these practical illustrations make Delivering Results far more interesting.
But it is disappointing that some of the profession’s most popular models are not featured. For example, although Michael Porter’s “five forces” are discussed in the chapter about the nature of strategy, there is no illustration of this well-known and much-used model, thereby depriving readers of a useful theoretical snapshot.
Despite such omissions, I would recommend this article to students of HR strategy and to practitioners who are expected to contribute to the business issues discussed by the contributors. Managers in various other disciplines should also find the article useful to help them change their attitude to HR professionals. Indeed, Ulrich sees this task as essential if the new mandate for HR professionals is to be fully realised.
Overall, Delivering Results portrays HR as an invaluable organisational function that can make a full contribution to realising bottom-line benefits. It provides a good read and should be an essential addition to articleshelves in libraries, studies or learning resource centers.