Ten years ago, I read and then reviewed Thomas O. Davenport's Human Capital: What It Is and Why People Invest It, also published by Jossey-Bass (1999). In my review, I praised the book for its rock-solid content that includes several valuable insights about a then neglected dimension of determining organizational value. I stated that Chapter 9, "Optimizing and Measuring Human Capital Investment," all by itself, is well worth the cost of the hardbound edition.
Now in Davenport's latest book, co-authored with Stephen D. Harding, the focus is much narrower than in the previous book: it is primarily on those who comprise middle management, "between the world of employees and the territory occupied by senior leaders." That said, my own opinion is that C-level executives must also read this book because they possess the authority to decide whether or not to adopt and then support what Davenport and Harding characterize as "a new model of manager performance."
Actually, it is hardly new, for two reasons: It draws upon extensive prior research discussed in scholarly articles published years ago; also, Davenport and Harding have direct access to decades of other research data accumulated by the firm with which they are associated, Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin), including its 2010 "Global Workplace Study."
Here are the four categories of manager performance requirements, Pages 52-56:
Executing Tasks: "This element comprises planning work, clarifying job-related roles, structuring specific job tasks, monitoring performance, and making the necessary adjustments to ensure the work meets organizational needs and supports business strategy."
Developing People: "The next element of the performance model calls for managers to create opportunities for each employee to add to her storehouse of human capital. In doing so, managers create the ability for people to carry out their jobs and achieve their goals.
Delivering the Deal: "Managers play a central role in brokering the exchange of each employee's investment of human capital for the portfolio of financial and nonfinancial, intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that constitute a return on that investment. We refer to this reciprocal arrangement as the deal between employee and enterprise."
Energizing Change: "Effective managers look ahead in time and outside the boundaries of their units and their organizations to anticipate and respond to environmental shifts and to envision, plan for, and create the future."
Although none of these observations is a head-snapping revelation (nor do Davenport and Harding make any such claim), together they provide an eminently sensible framework within which to flesh out the specific performance expectations for each manager in the given organization, whatever its size and nature may be.
The four elements are best viewed with an outside-in perspective whereas their foundation, Davenport and Harding correctly note, consists of self-awareness, relational transparency, balanced processing of relevant information, and an internalized moral perspective. These are the "underpinnings" of a manager's authenticity.
Davenport and Harding devote a separate chapter to each of the four elements In Part II: Implementation, Chapters 5-8, and then in the next chapter they focus on how to connect authenticity and trust, how to build trust through authenticity, and what the implications of management performance are. I especially appreciate their provision of a brief Summary at the conclusion of each of the ten chapters. This reader-friendly device will enable, indeed expedite periodic review of key points.
Obviously, it remains for those who read this book to determine which of the observations, insights, and recommendations are most relevant to her or his own organization. Their next task will be to incorporate this material into a comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective game plan that includes a case statement, strategies, tactics, objectives, a time-frame, and preferably metrics by which to track progress of initiatives. Fortunately, one of several value-added benefits that Davenport and Harding provide is a rationale that will be needed to recruit, enlist, and then engage the scope and depth of support throughout the enterprise that will be needed.