Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review: Reality Bytes - The Role of HR in Today’s World

Book Review: Reality Bytes - The Role
of HR in Today’s World
Author: Aparna Sharma

Good read as the first book in HR. Remains focused on the HR topics as a text book but falls hugely short of a text book, if compared with best HR text books. As a reference book, it again disappoints when the book has remained in a teaching mode and hardly has any place for developing any connect with the reader. No jargon makes it easy for anyone to read.  Being author’s first book with a disclaimer that it is primarily for the HR students at undergrads and masters and still good enough for the new HR Managers sets the expectations right.

At times it is difficult to find out, if this is a text book or a reference book. Ideally looking at very little touch of reality into the book, be it caselets or the stray examples, book travels mostly into the past. None of the caselets have any close significance or resonance with recent corporate examples. Not sure why author did not pick up any examples from companies she worked for. This is a big let down to anyone who is buying a book written by practicing HR professional. Had it been written by an academician, it was fine.

As a reference book, it must have got some contemporary reference. Missing them!
On the content side, it confuses a reader, whether it is just a reproduction of the old HR concepts with some touch of modern HR terms.
One example of black car reward at Kirloskar draws attention to the old reminisces, however, hardly any HR manager in the era of Google and Amazon and huge army of start ups in India would associate with such example.

Book is a monologue and has run mostly in memory lane at times and then a mix of providing definitions of new and old HR terms!  It has missed the aspect of building a relationship with the reader!
There are references of McKinsey at times but no reference of the report and the research, the cited fact was part of.
Design of the book is good. Cover could have been much better!

The book never talks about the great HR thought leaders and what happened to the biggest HR cornerstone theories in the transit. How many survived and what made them lose significance. Who are modern day HR thinkers students must watch closely.
While the name of the book provokes thought of getting to hear the reality of HR and all good-bad things have been told about HR as a function.
Book likely deliberately kept itself away from intriguing new thoughts into HR to become the much expected business partner, be the CEO advisor and create great places to work. Missed any great experiments done in HR in recent past. Why there are no talks of patents in HR?

Book does not talk about any recognized business leader, either from India or global, who may have been shaping and forming the HR as a function. There are examples galore.
While the book begins with the EVP talk, it does not provide any real examples of good-bad EVP and how HR could have shaped a better EVP. It is also surprising that while creating and identifying EVP, other marketing and business stakeholders were ignored. Does not talk about companies working in the Talent branding space and their reports and how students/HR Managers can benefit from them.

It does not talk about significance of review platform of Glassdoor.com, which is universal test for the EVP, culture included.
Book does not talk about Great Place to Work survey, SHRM, Gallup, some top HR consulting (Towers Watson, Hewitt, Mercer, DDI, Watermark, do for HR). Does not talk about Salary.com, payscale.com, etc.
Does not talk about the HR revolutions created by likes of LinkedIn, twitter, FB, Quora.
Does not talk about ethicspoint.com and governance into HR. How to deal with unethical practices, report them and how to maintain confidentiality!

Does not talk about changing trends in hiring, shaping HR for the new age start ups with founders in early 20’s and they know mostly product and technology. How to make HR work there? 
No reference of HR's status in industries of modern age and how HR is heading for the vertical split into HR admin and HR-Leadership organization. HBR article of Ram Charan was a reminder!

While old day industries remain there with HR managing canteen and crèche, uniform, diwali sweets and transport; automation and breakthrough technology has made HR too, a shrunk function. How is HR changing there.

It would have been great to have experiences from HR professionals on each item of HR significance.

 But there is now opportunity for us to see her subsequent books with real touch of ‘Reality Bytes!