Review: Transformational HR

Perry Timms is eternally optimistic about the HR profession's capabilities

Perry Timms, Kogan Page, £19.99

HR professionals have little difficulty articulating the difference they make. In some parts of the business world, however, HR has a ‘reputational deficit’ it struggles to overcome. Which is why blogger and consultant (and social media stalwart) Perry Timms asks everyone – HR professionals, executives and employees – to think again about what HR is and what it can do, to make it a truly disruptive force fit for the 21st century.

That’s quite a task. Fortunately, Timms is up to it. At its heart, Transformational HR is a call for the profession to prioritise and organise, to find a mission that will elevate it beyond being merely reactive and make it as indispensable to organisations as marketing or finance at a time when the relevance of people to business has never been greater.

To Timms, creating a ‘just’ business is HR’s ultimate purpose, and he shows us powerfully how the function can increase both obvious and less tangible measures of fairness: by removing barriers to optimal performance to enable true agility, deploying data and science to make better decisions, and acting as a futurologist to create a more capable workforce.

The result is at times a ragbag of ideas – most from Timms, some co-opted from a small army of expert contributors – that straddles everything from the Ulrich model to employer brand, and at first feels overwhelming. But delved into more deeply, it reveals itself as a passionate, expert and credible endorsement by an author who realises HR’s unique capacity for self-doubt sometimes holds it back, and who retains an eternally optimistic outlook on its capabilities. As he puts it: “Those very conditions that tarnish HR’s reputation are the very things that may cause its renaissance or even metamorphosis.”