Book authors want everyone to read their book. It’s a universal law. They spend a year or longer typing and retyping words, and when they’re done, they want as many people as possible to read what they’ve written. And I’m no different.

But it occurs to me that some people may want to avoid my book.

Firing at Will is listed (and intended) as a management book. My publisher (Apress) even included a handy little instruction on the back cover: “Shelve in Business/Management.” But so far, in every Barnes & Noble store I’ve checked, they’ve filed it under “Human Resources.” And I get that, because as much as it is a book for managers, it’s also a book for HR professionals.

But HR professionals who read it may be in for a surprise. Because the book takes on many of HR’s long-held beliefs, showing how some common practices harm employee morale and business profitability.

Many of the rules and policies that well-meaning HR professionals and employment lawyers put into place lead to toxic, dysfunctional workplaces. These rules are designed to protect companies from bad employees, but they instead drive away good employees.

Instead, the book promotes doing away with outdated management tools that end up becoming crutches for managers and take away their independence and discretion. For example, instead of sticking with these outdated tools, the book advises employers to:

  • Throw out your personnel handbook (the title of Chapter 16)
  • Abandon annual performance reviews (“the dumbest managerial tool”)
  • Dump progressive-discipline policies
  • Avoid performance-improvement plans (PIPs)
  • Stay away from arbitration agreements
  • Treat employees differently

That last one might be the biggest surprise. Employment lawyers are always telling companies to treat everyone the same. But when you do that, you end up treating everyone equally badly.

HR pros who have grown comfortable with these conventional notions may be put off by the shots taken at accepted wisdom.

On the other hand, there are things in the book that many HR people will appreciate. The book advocates for more responsibility and autonomy for human resources. It favors changing “human resources” to “talent” and elevating the role to the C-suite level: “Every company should have a chief talent officer reporting to the CEO.”

If you’re a human-resources professional, or any kind of manager or employer, and you’re thinking about reading Firing at Will, please proceed with caution. Some of what you read might be upsetting to you.

And some of it might just change your mind.


To order your own copy, click the following links:

To read Chapter 1 for free, click the link at the top of the page.

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1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Lee Ricci

    2 March 2012

    Michelle Golden recommended reading your book. I’ve worked for over 25 years in HR and much of that time in government – where writing policies is an art. Policies also back supervisors into corners and “drives aways good employees” I plan to purchase your book.
    Thanks to both of you!
    lee


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