Thoughts along the way

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Change Channels

Why the ‘best’ practice may be the worst

Every year HR Magazine ranks the most influential practitioners and thinkers in the field of HR. In 2016 Rob Briner made the top of the list - at Odd Agency we are not surprised that his work is being appreciated. Using evidence-based practices to turn Human Resources into the amazing force of change they are capable of being. Challenge your team, and yourself, to evaluate your work and be brave enough to pivot when evidence tells you to do so.
Rob Briner is a key advocate of evidence-based management and HR. Evidence-based management is defined as “making decisions through the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of four sources of information” (Briner, et al., 2009). The four sources of information are:
  • Practitioners' own expertise and judgement.
  • Evidence from the local context.
  • A critical evaluation of the best available research evidence.
  • The perspectives of those who might be affected by the decision.
Briner argues that that there is an evidence deficit in many of the classic HR activities. We simply do not bother to investigate why some initiatives work and why others  fail. What is even worse is that even if we realize that something is not working, we are not questioning, nor challenging the practice with the help of research. Rather, we keep on doing ‘business as usual’. As someone who has worked in HR for 15 years, it is beyond chocking to think that one’s work may have had no effect,nor added value. But is that what Rob Briner is claiming? Yes and no. Referring to research, he concludes that some practices - performance management and forced ranking, for example - are a waste of time for most organizations. However, Briner also argues that by implementing an evidence-based practice when analysing problems and making decisions, HR can have far greater impact on overall business performance. I guess, just because you do not evaluate and document the impact of your work, that does not mean that there is no impact. Your HR-team still could be doing highly valuable work. At Odd Agency we implement an evidence-based approach in the following ways:
Our development and training programs, often an important change channel from an HR perspective, always build on valid research and tested methods. When designing change processes for organizations, we ensure that purpose, deliverables and success criteria are well-defined to enable anvaluation of the degree to which the process has been successful.   We think of people as engines and enablers of change which is why our change design always seeks to involve 'end-user' perspective and participation.  
Using this framework gets you a bit closer but not all the way - working evidence-based requires a big commitment. A good place to start is to read up on the latest research around the classic HR-activities-  much needed to take our profession (and ourselves) seriously. When we, meaning HR-heroes around the world, are convinced, we can start to convince the rest of the organization. Our suggestions and initiatives will then be based on evidence, rather than doing ‘what we’ve always done’. Challenge your team, and yourself, to evaluate your work. Maybe you are on the right track, if not, be wise enough to change course when evidence tells you to do so. Center for Evidence Based Management has a great archive with articles and tools free to use, it can be a good place to start. If you cannot find the time to read a ton of research articles, or if you have an issue you cannot get your head around, your welcome to contact us at Odd Agency.      

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Every year HR Magazine ranks the most influential practitioners and thinkers in the field of HR. In 2016 Rob Briner made the top of the list - at Odd Agency we are not surprised that his work is being appreciated. Using evidence-based practices to turn Human Resources into the amazing force of change they are capable of being.  Challenge your team, and yourself, to evaluate your work and be brave enough to pivot when evidence tells you to do so.
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