HR Group, founded in Edmonton Alberta in 1993, is a partnership of highly experienced management consultants who specialize in organizational effectiveness and human resource management, and promote participative, lean, and cost-effective management practices. All partners are Certified Human Resource Practitioners with extensive senior level experience in both the private and public sectors.

“Off the Shelf” HR

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (January, 2009), the HR Group newsletter.  In a couple of our recent newsletters we have talked about the prevalent misconceptions about what the Human Resources (HR) Management function actually is and what HR should be if it is to add value and be a respected component of any organization. In this […]

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A Lack of Effective Governance

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (October, 2010), the HR Group newsletter. There is a decided lack of effective governance in many public sector bodies such as agencies, boards, and commissions. The same is also true in the private sector. The Board of Directors of Hewlett Packard, for example, is now being sued by some shareholders as […]

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Again – Flatter is Better

This is an updated version of “Flatter Is Better”, originally published in the May 2004 issue of “Municipal World” If the traditional management style is dead, then why keep the traditional hierarchical organizational structure? The traditional management style was to control the way people work; to control what they do, how they do it, and […]

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Can’t Find Them? Better Train Them!

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces (Spring, 2002), the HR Group newsletter. Can’t find a good millwright? Can’t find a good public works superintendent? Can’t find an assistant manager for a northern location? Can’t find qualified and experienced staff in general? Too many valuable staff retiring? Not enough qualified graduates? Qualified tradesmen all but disappearing?  Good staff […]

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Check Your Alignment

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (January, 2005), the HR Group newsletter. There is a prevalent paradox in many of today’s organizations. They try and create a more productive workplace where employees are intrinsically motivated to show initiative and creativity and provide excellent quality and customer service. Yet they retain many bureaucratic structures and systems of governance […]

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Communications

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (May, 2005), the HR Group newsletter. “People without information cannot act responsibly. People with information are compelled to act responsibly.” (Blanchard et al, 1996, p.34) Ask people to tell you what is not working well in their organizations and they will invariably say that communications could be improved. We frequently hear […]

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Customer Service, Eh?

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Fall, 2003), the HR Group newsletter. “Sorry, but all our operators are busy at this time. Please hold and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received. Thank you for your patience; we value your business.” Ten minutes later, sometimes longer with monopolies, especially in the […]

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Do You Really Need a Job Description?

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Spring, 2003), the HR Group newsletter. If you really require a job description to do your job, then I don’t want you working for my company. You see I expect you to know what your overall responsibilities are and I expect you to fulfill them. Yes we will provide orientation and […]

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Downsizing: An Outcome, Not a Process

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (April, 2009), the HR Group newsletter. Times are tough again and, as usual, downsizing has started in earnest. Microsoft is laying off 5,000; Intel 6,000; Caterpillar Inc. 20,000; Sprint Nextel Corp. 8,000; Home Depot Inc. 7,000; Pfizer Inc. 19,000; Ericsson 5,000; BHP, the worlds largest miner, 6,000; Clear Channel Communications, the […]

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Good Management IS Leadership

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (January, 2007), the HR Group newsletter.  Leadership has, unfortunately, become the latest flavor of the month. Log on to Amazon.ca and a search under books for “Organizational Leadership” will produce 1504 listings, 215 with the actual word leadership in the title. Titles range from the bestselling The Leadership Challenge to other […]

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How to Attract and Retain Employees in Boom Times – And for All Times

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (February 2008), the HR Group newsletter. The lead article in our very first newsletter in the spring of 1998 was entitled “How To Attract And Retain Employees In Boom Times – And For All Times.” Not much has changed except that the circumstances prompting that article have only gotten worse in […]

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How To Avoid Bureaucracy

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Spring, 1999), the HR Group newsletter. Bureaucracy is defined by Webster’s as, “a system of administration marked by officialism, red tape and proliferation.” Many organizations, both public and private, suffer from one degree of bureaucracy or another. Bureaucracy, however, is too slow, too unresponsive and too incapable of change to survive […]

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Just Do It!

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Fall, 2002), the HR Group newsletter. Thank you Nike. You’ve got it right – “Just Do It!” This is what is so lacking in our society today and in today’s managers and leaders in both the private and the public sectors. Where is the will to just get things done instead […]

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Management Competencies

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (January, 2004), the HR Group newsletter. Managers, traditionally, have usually been selected and/or promoted on the basis of technical competence. The best engineer has been promoted to head the Engineering Department, the best accountant the Finance Department and so forth. The same can be said for the chief executive officer in […]

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Pay for Performance

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (May, 2010), the HR Group newsletter.  “We don’t want to keep paying the same increase to all staff; we want to reward those that are truly productive and give less to those that are not.” What’s wrong with this common request by so many boards of directors of both public and […]

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Performance Management Is Management’s Primary Responsibility

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Fall 2001), the HR Group newsletter. And yet it is also the most neglected management function. We have become convinced through our practice and our careers that poor performance management is the most frequently encountered organizational problem and that it is also the root cause of so many others that may […]

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Policies or Common Sense

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Fall 1999), the HR Group newsletter. There are two incidents that I always recall when thinking about the usefulness of organizational policies. The first was a presentation to approximately 2000 employees about the introduction of a corporate Quality Management program. As Director of Human Resources, I put an 11 lb, 9 […]

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Poor Performance Requires Action, Not an Evaluation

Reprinted form “Productive Workplaces” (October 2005), the HR Group newsletter.  If you give an employee a poor performance evaluation, it begs an extremely important question: “What have you done about the poor performance besides fill in an evaluation form and put it in the employee’s file?” The document itself accomplishes absolutely nothing and is a […]

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Productive Performance Evaluation Requires Ongoing Performance Management

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Winter, 1999), the HR Group newsletter. Performance Evaluation, in and of itself, is a useless and unfair practice unless it is part of an ongoing process of Performance Management.

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Productive Termination: The Earlier, the Better

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Fall, 2000) the HR Group newsletter. Termination can and should be productive for all concerned. The earlier it is done, the more productive it can be. Not to terminate an employee for justifiable reasons such as poor performance, lack of “fit” or plain position redundancy is misguided compassion at best. At […]

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Productivity is Not a Dirty Word

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (May, 2006), the HR Group newsletter. A recent article by The Canadian Press reported the results of a public opinion analysis conducted by Decima Research for the federal Finance Department. This analysis showed that  Canadians get really annoyed by the word “productivity”, used in relation to our economic performance, as well […]

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Quantitative vs. Qualitative

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (October, 2011), the HR Group newsletter. Peter Drucker once said that “what gets measured, gets managed”. Today you cannot escape the prevalence of management metrics to measure all aspects of organizational as well as individual performance. KPIs or Key Performance Indicators include such measurements as CPO or cost per order, number […]

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Rethinking Human Resources Management

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (June, 2008), the HR Group newsletter. The Human Resources Department, in most organizations, has been responsible for numerous policies, practices, and procedures designed to control human behaviour. Such controls prevent the creation of a participative workplace where employees are free to use their own intrinsic motivation to improve productivity. Human resources […]

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Reviewing the Organization to Create a More Productive Workplace

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Winter, 2000), the HR Group newsletter  Many view an Organizational Review or Audit as an excuse for the termination of specific employees,  especially senior managers. It is also frequently viewed as a cover for downsizing which has already been predetermined. This skepticism or cynicism is not without foundation as too many […]

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Scarce Labour: No Excuse for Poor Hiring

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (October, 2006), the HR Group newsletter. Yes we know it’s an employee’s market. Yes we know that qualified staff are extremely rare, if not non-existent, in certain fields. And yes we know that employers are desperate for staff now, not later. BUT, this does not excuse some of the shoddy hiring […]

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Silver Bullets Don’t Work

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Spring, 2000), the HR Group newsletter. Core Management Principles and Supportive Organizational Values are all you really need to create and sustain a Productive Workplace. So many organizations, however, continue to embrace the latest buzzword or fad in organizational effectiveness: Reengineering, Restructuring, Total Quality Management, Continuous Improvement, Competitive Benchmarking and Teamwork […]

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Start Right; Hire Right!

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Spring and Summer 2001), the HR Group newsletter. “If you had hired the right person in the first place *! *!, we wouldn’t ……”  Avoid significant grief! Get it right in the first place! Most organizations and their managers spend far too little time on the whole process of recruitment, selection […]

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Succession Planning

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (Janauary, 2006), the HR Group newsletter. We already have a marked shortage of skilled labour in virtually all sectors of our provincial economy and at all levels of our organizations, both private and public. With a booming economy, coupled with a quickly aging workforce, this shortage is only going to rapidly […]

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The HR Function: What Is It?

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (October, 2007), the HR Group newsletter. The booming Alberta economy has sparked a rising interest in Human Resources Management. Many organizations are exploring their Human Resource Management needs and trying to determine whether or not they need resident expertise in the form or an HR “specialist” or whether or not they […]

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Undercover Boss

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (May, 2011), the HR Group newsletter. No matter how much we believe in and promote a participative workplace culture, it is the manager who is still in charge and ultimately responsible. But how can managers say that they are  ultimately responsible and hold staff accountable, if they do not know what […]

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Use Your Discretion

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (November, 2009), the HR Group newsletter. One of our clients recently said that he “didn’t feel all that comfortable playing God” when he knew that he had a serious performance issue to deal with and that termination was required. He knew what he had to do and he fulfilled that responsibility, […]

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Why Managers Get Fired

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (April, 2004), the HR Group newsletter. Managers traditionally required technical competence in one field or another. General organizational and people management competencies did not matter as the traditional management style has been to control what employees do, how they do it and every other aspect of their work. Managers today, however, […]

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You Get What You Pay For

Reprinted from “Productive Workplaces” (October, 2004), the HR Group newsletter. “The greatest single obstacle to the success of today’s organizations is the giant mismatch between the behavior we need and the behavior we reward.” – Michael LeBoeuf (1985, p.23) When we talk about rewards, we are referring to all monetary compensation, all health and insurance […]

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