BOOK REVIEW

Strategic Human Resource Management: A Guide to Action by Michael Armstrong, published by Kogan Page (ISBN 0749433310)

Most management strategy books these days take great comfort in substituting common sense for buzz word-laden, ill-thought-out theories without a thought for practical application.

Refreshing, then, is Michael Armstrong’s Strategic Human Resource Management: A Guide to Action. It is a book which does a whole lot more than just what it says on the cover. Processes and approaches are clearly defined without the use of confusing jargon. At the same time as focusing on HR, it looks at the broader picture, placing human resources firrmly within the corporate business structure.

It guides the reader smoothly through the complete business model. Starting with an outline of the concepts involved, it moves on to practical application of said concepts before applying the same theories to wider business structures. The final conclusions drawn in the last chapter bring everything together in a manageable format, providing a step-by-step guide to running a better company.

Strategic Human Resource Management: A Guide to Action provides the reader with a sensible guide that combines simple business acumen with proven published theory – something that any HR manager should know.

And perhaps here lies the problem. Apart from some of the finer points, any HR manager worth their salt should already be practising what the book recommends. Statements such as “keep people informed of progress” and “be realistic about what can be achieved” could be seen as telling a granny to suck eggs. Most modern businesses are, or should be, run this way already.

Unless you are just starting out or are refreshing what you already know, if you need to read this book then you are probably in the wrong job. As a review of current proven practices, the book is an undeniable success. As a guide to changing your strategy, it probably won’t pull any punches.

Overall, though, Armstrong’s style and approach is easy to understand, easy to read and easy to digest. Where other guides fail by overcomplicating simple issues, this simplifies complex issues in a neat and accessible package.