ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

October 1999


Not So Common Sense

A Fresh Squeeze On Labor Relations

Toughening Up Today's Change Efforts

People Before Strategy: Four Types of Employees that Help or Hinder a Changing Corporate Culture

The Missing Link
Failed Mergers Linked to Poor Management of Workforce Issues

A Few Kind Words: The Importance of Positive Reinforcement

Tool Time
Assessing Management Tools


Turnabout Is Fair Play
by Peter Block


Brief Cases

Diary of a Shutdown

Views for a Change


Book Reviews with a Twist

"Finding & Keeping Great Employees"
by Jim Harris, Ph.D. and Joan Brannick, Ph.D.

Right Time, Right Place, Right Idea!
With today's ever-tightening job market, the competition for employees is fierce. Almost every business or management publication one picks up today is full of articles of the creative, innovative and the sometimes weird extremes employers are having to go to get the skilled workforce they need. The competition for great employees has more than a few executives, supervisors, headhunters and other HR staffing specialists pulling their hair out and spending sleepless nights dreaming of "Ms. or Mr. Right." Dr. Harris and Dr. Brannick's book is the right idea, at the right time, and hopefully will find the right place on the "to read" list of every reader.

By Jove, I Think They've Got It!
Up front, the authors state…

· "We believe in people…
· We believe in corporate culture…
· We believe the organizations most successful in their staffing and retention practices are those that leverage their core culture to attract and retain like-valued employees…
· We believe in a strategic, more than tactical, approach to finding and keeping great employees…
· We believe in (and have attempted to provide) simple, doable concepts and guidance…
· We believe that any attempt to find and keep great employees must be flexible…"

These beliefs form the much-needed message of this helpful little volume.

"Employees need to feel connected to something more permanent and ennobling than a company logo or job title. If organizations continue to embrace traditional approaches to finding and keeping top talent (such as generous pay, benefits and personal time), they perpetuate the cycle of disconnection while diminishing their ultimate productivity and profit."

It's the Culture, Stupid!
While they authors may not have been the first to identify the connection between an organization's culture and its ability to attract and retain great employees, they do provide a comprehensive, groundbreaking frame for applying that understanding. Their insights into the effects of a poor fit between an employee and an organization's cultures (what they call disconnection) are likewise important understandings for those needing to attract great employees to their workplaces.

The authors identify four "core cultures" present in various organizations and which must be attended to:

· Customer Service - Getting close to your customers and generating solutions
· Innovation - Creating the future and staying on the cutting edge
· Operational Excellence - Better/Cheaper/Faster and continuous learning/improvement
· Spirit - Inspiration and higher-order purpose; "ennobling" the work and the worker

Understanding one's own corporate culture, whatever type, and then aligning employee recruitment and development plans with that culture is crucial. Failure to do so will prevent your organization from maintaining the competitive advantage great workers can bring.

Harris and Brannick have done a wonderful job keeping the complexity of their approach to getting and keeping the "keepers" in today's tight job market to a simple, doable framework. Readers should not let its simplicity dissuade them from its usefulness in their staffing efforts. The insights, tips and traps to avoid presented in finding and keeping great employees should be the topic of discussion by every organizational stakeholder interested in acquiring the best employees and the competitive advantage they can bring to your organization.

"Finding and Keeping Great Employees," Jim Harris and Joan Brannick, 1999, American Management Association, ISBN 0-8144-0454-5, 222 pages.
Reviewed by Jerry Linnins, Reflections Technology, Petaluma, Calif.
October '99 News for a Change | Email Editor
  • Print this page
  • Save this page

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this item

View comments
Add comments
Comments FAQ

ASQ News