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08/21/2014

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You hit one of my hot buttons Chuck. I don't look at/read anything that is not from a practitioner --- or someone who has been a recent practitioner.

And have you noticed that most conferences only have non-practitioners as speakers. Some are fine --- but all? I like to hear from practitioners who have done something in their company --- project, program, I don't care what --- and listen to how they accomplished it, what the challenges were. That's when I learn something. Because no two practitioners are alike --- what works for one doesn't work for another.

And non-practitioners usually have just one model to offer.

That's my 2 cents.

A while back I started checking who the authors were in the professional journals that I subscribed to. You should try that sometime. The vast majority were either academics or consultants. Now I'm a consultant, so I know that some practitioners turn to consulting in the latter part of their careers. But I've also come across a boatload of consultants who never had a practitioners job throughout their career. They went straight from academia to a consulting firm.

So like you, Jacque, I have a healthy skepticism over how much help such folks are going to be.

I work in HR,currently getting my MBA, and this is the problem I have had with some of the professors. And I can always tell who has genuine work experience under their belt and who has simply been climbing the academic ladder most of their career. I truly appreciate the knowledge of the "book" subject matter and try to learn as much of that as I can from them, but when they start to espouse wisdom about how I should apply these theories and principles at my real-life organization, I cringe because I can tell they don't really know what they're talking about. And when they discover that you do have some know-how, they tend to shut you down right quick. I have always been selective about who I lend an ear to, personally and professionally, and credibility is a must.

Chuck ----I too was a practitioner and now a consultant. I have a lot of respect for people with "dirt under their nails" who are willing to try out new ideas/concepts to simply deal with what can be mind-crushing problems their organizations are facing --- especially in this age of globalization where business is moving at warp speed.

Natasha --- I understand your frustration. I am concerned about the students who are trying to learn what they should know about HR in the real world and most importantly how to apply it.

What I have experienced, very recently in fact, is that academics teach theories and practices that are hopelessly out-of-date. Example: Pay for seniority is the predominate method for awarding salary increases, however, merit pay/pay for performance is beginning to be used by companies.

It saddens me to think that some of the very people who should be at the cutting edge are living in a world of 20 years ago. Yet these are the people who are respected and admired for their wisdom.

There are some academics who "get it" but mostly those who have worked in the real world. Maybe that should be a requirement for teaching.

Toast: Here's to those who have "dirt under their nails"!

Academics are often expected to do consulting on the side, both to enhance their credibility and to supplement their seniority-based tenure incomes, but they don't live & die with the systems they supply.

There is a reason each major publisher separates their academic textbook division from their division selling how-to solutions to businesses. Academics want highly footnoted comprehensive theoretical texts showing every bad method ever used in the past from which they can create an unchanging lesson plan once to use for many years. Business wants practical situational diagnostics and optional prescriptions for what works best now (forget the lousy mistakes of the past!), which will probably change quickly in the future. They are different worlds.

Chuck, I like how you create articles of relevance and I enjoy reading them. Also, I totally agree with your article.

Thanks so much.

Thanks, Terria. I appreciate the positive feedback.

I look for other criteria, in addition to practical experience. Did the consultant graduate from a major school with a good academic reputation? Do they have a degree that directly relates to HR, like business or psychology? Do they have a graduate degree that relates? Do they have advanced and hard to get HR certifications, like the SPHR. We a have a fair share of posers in HR consulting ranks. People who act like they know everything and have an opinion on any subject, but lack a solid foundation in the field to back them up.

I find it facinating to hear advice from people who don't have experience on actually doing the project/program. More often then not, I shut up because I know responding will not make the situation better. But there are days.....

Interesting point Ray. I tend to prefer consultants from schools other than the major programs. Why? Many times, these are the schools that recruit practitioners versus the academician that has never had real life experience. In addition, many times they are also the group that worked while in school and have work experience to bring to the table.

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