Monday, 7 November 2011

Julian Birkinshaw on Human Centric Management


   And while I’m on the subject of human centricity, let me point out that I, and ConnectingHR, are not alone in prioritising this.  For example, it’s interesting to see that Julian Birkinshaw’s latest research is on “Employee Centred Management”.  And in a session at MLab recently, Birkinshaw encouraged everyone to see management through the eyes of their employees.

Basically there are two ways of managing people – as a resource to support the business (HR), or as the driver for business success.  This is what I’ve been calling strategic HCM (human capital being based on employees’ latent skills and enthusiasm):


Birkinshaw concludes that to become a better human manager by seeing the world through your employees’ eyes you should

  • Spend time in their shoes, in their space
  • Package work - even routine work - into projects
  • Work yourself out of a job.


You can find further advice on this blog, or my book.



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  1. Jon,

    We also take an employee-centric approach, borrowing heavily from customer-centric approaches. Hence why we apply so many marketing-developed techniques such as segmentation, a strong focus on understanding employee needs (often their employment needs in the context of overall life-needs).

    My deep frustration with most HR systems and reporting in that they consider the organization, and positions as the central element and assign people to those. We do the opposite making the employee central. It is the equivalent of moving from product focussed to single-view of the customer.

    Furthermore, and this links to your earlier post, most HR systems and designed to make HR's life easier not the employees'

    Employees, like customers, are free agents. 'Capital', (as used so often in Human Capital) has no voice, makes no decisions. Neither customers nor employees should be viewed as resources because in the end of the day a firm owns neither.

  2. Agreed Andrew (although I always say - and write - that people are providers of human capital, not capital themselves).

    You'll also find posts on here about things like job sculpting - developing a job based on an individual's strengths vs fitting them in a box.

    There are a lot of things we can do - both differently and better - with this perspective.


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