Sustainable, non-toxic, and low on chemical fertilizer, Organic HR is something I have been developing for the last couple of years, based on over thirty years in the trenches of large and small organizations. Throw out lengthy interviews, do away with performance appraisals, and stop giving annual salary raises to everyone.Since it is unlikely that large organizations will ever see their way out of the tangled web they have woven for themselves my focus is on small business (under 150 employees, to read more of the why behind this number read Bo Burlingham's gem Small Giants).

Extensive research has shown that even the best, most structured interviews are as good as random choice (flipping a coin) at predicting future success in a job. Performance appraisals are lagging indicators that rely on witness reliability (ask any police detective about the reliability of multiple observers - see 360 degree feedback systems). What good is knowing how someone did or didn't perform six months ago (come on, nobody does this stuff as frequently as they're supposed to)? Times change, circumstances change but HR still wants you to talk about the past!

So, what is Organic HR? Common sense, really. Since you can't trust what people say about their performance, in previous jobs or their current ones, and since you can't trust what other people say about their performance (reference checks) the best thing to do is to hire for talent (as defined by Marcus Buckingham - a recurring pattern of behaviour), hire fast and at the entry level wherever possible, train for skills, watch for performance achievement and push their buttons to increase that achievement, be obsessive about making sure the talent fits with the organization role, and get rid of anyone who doesn't find a productive, positive slot fast. Talk to your people on a daily basis, ask them how the company can do a better job of aligning their talent with a need in the company's business process or a better job of giving them the tools they need to be successful.

Get rid of any HR person who doesn't know how to align their work with achieving the company's business goals. Don't measure activity on behalf of your HR function, be zealous about requiring them to produce tangible business results - more productivity and less cost. Simple but hard to do, Organic HR requires vision, discipline, ethics and hard work but the rewards are a sustainable, healthy and productive company.

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Comment by Franny Oxford on February 14, 2010 at 11:28am
Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes! You are my new BFF.
Comment by Saleem Qureshi on February 15, 2010 at 12:08am
What a great way to think!! about using advanced technology during talent assessment?


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