O’Reilly doesn’t have an HR management in a Nutshell book. But if it did, and if it was any good, all the legal stuff would sit at the end, and these three subjects would get top billing. If you get these things right, your employees will be successful, and your company will be profitable, and you’ll enjoy your job. Get one of them wrong, and you’ll have problems.
Meanwhile the HR stuff I get in the mail almost all teaches legalities and technicalities:
- how avoid wrongfully termination lawsuits
- how often to do reviews and what format to use
- how to do salary negotiations
Of course, all these topics are useful and even important, but in the end they will have no direct impact on your companies performance or your employees productivity.
On the other hand, if you learn how to find people with the right set of talents, teach them the skills they don’t have yet, and nurture their intrinsic motivation properly, you will see performance breakthroughs.
Talent — everybody has natural talents. Everyone is amazing at something! But they will only be an amazing employee if you know they have the right set of talents for the job. Your job is to determine what specific talents a job requires, and find someone with those talents. Talents are either genetic, or formed in early life, either way short of physical damage you can’t take a talent away from someone, and you can’t give someone a new talent no matter how much training you give them. .
Skills– a skill is something everybody can learn with time and practice. Different people learn at different rates in different ways according to their talents, but you can teach anyone. So, when compared with talents skills and knowledge are easy for a manager. If you happen to pick someone with the right talents, but who is missing a skill or two, your can fix that.
Motivation – motivation is a combination of natural desires for a particular employee and the environment you create for them. Motivation is like farming, you can’t motivate a soybean seed into becoming an apple tree. And you can’t motivate it into becoming the highest producing soybean plant in history, but you can help. If you give it the right soil, the right water, the right temperature, the right amount of sunlight — all the right growing conditions, it is much more likely to produce. Likewise, workplace motivation is about picking the right people with the right internal fires, and then giving them what they need to grow.