The Book Corner - Review

The Trouble with HR: An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People by Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. and Gary M. Stern

The Trouble with HRThe Trouble with HR: An Insider’s Guide to Finding and Keeping the Best People
By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. and Gary M. Stern
AMACOM, 2009


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3 stars: Valuable information and a good readDespite the challenges posed by the current severe recession, the need remains for business organizations to attract, hire, and retain the most qualified and experienced employees. In this book, Taylor and Stern provide the reader with practical, viable tools that can serve to create and sustain a flexible, integrated, and creative business organization.

The authors first offer something of a guide to identifying and hiring the “right people.” In Chapter one, 10 common hiring mistakes are explored with examples and suggestions of how to address the mistakes. The authors contend that the actual hiring of the “right people” occurs at literally every level of an organization. A “holistic” hiring approach is advocated. The reader is encouraged to write a detailed job description and to focus upon the job candidate’s attributes and whether they are a cultural fit as opposed to merely their skills. Interestingly, Taylor and Stern argue that selecting the “right people” is merely the beginning point. The need then arises to inspire them to actually become part of the organization’s vision and to make meaningful, substantive contributions to its business goals. The insights provided by the authors are derived from and predicated upon their respective careers. In my opinion the hiring practices discussion are invaluable  for any company, large or small, profit or not-for-profit.

The book offers a five-step program for “talent acquisition,” suggesting that the “talent acquisition director” is the equivalent of the organization’s sales director. The steps are discussed in part by considering examples of how three companies have implemented the strategy. I found this section intriguing and of significant value.

One of the most challenging issues for any employer is how to retain the “right people” that they spent so much time and effort identifying and then hiring. This book posits that by making them fall in the love with the company you will accomplish your goal of retaining them. However, the term “retain” has a new meaning in today’s workplace. As the authors point out, a generation ago retention meant that the employee would stay for 25 years or more. Today the employee may only remain for three to five years. However, retaining an employer for three to five years represents a “very good return on your recruiting investment.” Simply put, the authors urge the reader to hire for the long term, offering examples of good retention practices from successful businesses.

The book also considers how to effectively assess resumés, references, as well as the interviewing process. I found the consideration of behavioral interviewing to be of particular note. Such interviewing practices are somewhat controversial and far too often are not addressed in this type of book.

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