Dave Ulrich Talks About How to Make a Successful HR Transformation

HR author and expert Dave Ulrich

Here’s a great topic to be thinking about as we head into Labor Day: HR Transformation.

What is HR transformation, you ask? According to author, University of Michigan business professor, and all-around HR Guru Dave Ulrich, HR transformation is “how to transform HR practices so that they are aligned to customer needs and integrated around organization capabilities.” He even co-authored a book about it — HR Transformation: Building Human resources From the Outside In.

According to Ulrich, the overall model for HR Transformation is simple. You need to ask:

  • Why are we doing it? (what’s the context?);
  • What do we get if we do it well? (the outcomes);
  • How do we do it? (the department, the people, the practices); and,
  • Who does it? (the line managers, the employees, and the HR professionals).

It’s a great topic to be thinking about, especially if you are planning for a big fall push and perhaps some changes in your HR department after Labor Day. And, who better to listen to about it than Dave Ulrich, one of the greatest HR thinkers of our generation?

This video is from 2009, but it does a good job explaining the basics of HR Transformation and what you can get out of it — if done successfully, of course.

But Ulrich has some words of caution, too, because just like you can’t really pick up a “best practice” from somewhere else (where perhaps the company is doing a number of different things that are their “best practices”), just plug it into your organization and make it work.  As Dave says, “a best practice alone doesn’t work; you need a best system.”

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So it also goes with HR Transformation.

“What sometimes happens with HR Transformation is that somebody takes one practice … and (will say) we’ve transformed HR,” he says. “And it’s not true. What we want to do in this book is give you the entire road map of what HR Transformation looks like.”

Here’s the video. It’s well worth taking five minutes to listen to, because as in most everything having to do with HR, Dave Ulrich has a lot of smart and insightful things to say.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.

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