Unleashing the Transformative Potential of HR

transformational HR practices

It’s no secret that Human Resources has a reputation problem. As a department, we are often undervalued, underappreciated and overlooked, despite the fact that HR is a critical element in any business. In 2017, today's guest Perry Timms, proposed his fix for the problem, which was less “image makeover” and more disruptive, an unlocking of HR’s potential to become a true powerhouse for organizational success. The book, aptly titled Transformational HR: How Human Resources Can Create Value and Impact Business Strategy, became a massive must-read in the industry. The second edition of Transformational HR was released this past July, and Perry is here to tell us about new transformational HR practices and all that we can look forward to in this new edition. Here, he also explains:

  • His vision for the role of HR;
  • How the Four Zones Model can set up an organization for success;
  • How innovative methodologies can aid and advance the workplace experience; and
  • Why HR can afford to be more bullish and intentional after the events of the last 18 months.

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The Release of The First Edition

  • Upon the initial release of Transformational HR: How Human Resources Can Create Value and Impact Business Strategy (First Edition) (2017), Mr. Timms received a resoundingly positive reception, which he believes was due to the timeliness of the robust content. 
  • The book focuses on the story and role of HR and examines the untapped potential that can be found within our HR departments.
    • At least 30 different companies who have adopted the principles in the book, including one Northern European consulting company that has 11,000 employees.


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Vision For The Role Of HR

  • When the book was first published, there was considerable writing on the wall concerning technology and it’s propensity to change the future of work.
    • As the technology industry continued to show that the future was evolving right before our eyes, Mr. Timms came to the realization that the last time any sort of transformational HR practices took place were almost 20 years ago.
    • He believed that now was the time to transform HR and expand its impact on the world of work, creating more alignment and there's more fulfillment satisfaction within organizations.
  • The climate of today’s business culture is all about building capital, meeting quarterly profits, and creating shareholder value.
    • The more successful companies often build capital off of their creativity, dedication, loyalty, togetherness, and other intangible factors.
  • Mr. Timms believes that the future of HR lies within making that explicit connection between these intangible factors and shareholder value so that the people, rather than the numbers, can be the focus and driver of success. 
  • Transformational HR practices are all about people and how each person’s untapped potential can be brought out to create value.

Innovative HR Methodologies

  • Instead of viewing HR as an entity that makes a workplace sterile or clean, HR’s focus should be on helping managers to channel the energies, differences, and creativity of their employees.
  • Lean UX, a transformational HR practice in the technology industry, is referenced in the episode - learn more about Lean UX and what it entails here
  • One way to look at HR is as a service. If people had to pay for HR, would they?
    • In all likelihood, they would not, viewing HR as a “tolerated necessity” rather than something that adds value.
  • Adopting transformational HR practices is all about changing the way of thinking within HR from a formality to something that aids and enhances people’s experience within the workplace.

The Four Zones Model

  • This model came about when MR. Timms referenced the work of Dave Ulrich, who created the HR Zones of Regulation back in the 1990s. 
    • His model was innovative at the time for shifting the general public’s view of the typical bureaucratic business model to a view where people understood the greater purpose of the company and their roles in that purpose. 
    • The zones included in his model are: shared service, center of excellence, and business partners.
  • Mr. Timms’ Four Zones Model is a nod to Ulrich’s model, but adds a modern approach with more flexibility. 
  • He sought to create this model that created shared values across departments where certain goals such as diversity, equity, and inclusion were not just the goals of one group, but goals for everyone. 
  • The addition of a fourth zone, wholly focused on these transformational HR practices, allows people a chance to detach from their regular role and embrace transformative work.
  • The zones included in The Four Zones Model are: 
    • HR People Performance & Development
    • HR People & Programme Support
    • HR People Strategy & Partnerships
    • HR People & Organisation Transformation

Resistance to Transformational HR Practices?

  • In his experience, Mr. Timms has not come across much resistance, but there has been a fair amount of curiosity and uncertainty. 
  • The curiosity toward his practices created an opportunity for HR Directors and CHROs to understand that the transformational HR practices being proposed were not so radical to begin with; Instead, they are incremental and experimental. 
    • Once people understand the concept, it is much easier to see how this philosophy aligns with business needs and does not require reinventing the entire HR department to achieve.

A Look Inside The New Edition

  • The invitation to create a second edition of his book occurred in 2020, very early into the pandemic, which provided a massive amount of material to update the book with.
    • When the pandemic began, HR transformed from a tolerated necessity to a vital asset.
    • Company executives all over the world were turning to their HR Professionals for guidance.
    • HR had to adapt to this new world of pandemic business practices and outlined what was legal, what was moral, and what worked to keep businesses afloat. 
    • Mr. Timms wanted to reflect this situation in the second edition and writes extensively on the adaptations many HR departments had to make to ensure things still ran as smoothly as possible through something like a global pandemic.
  • He also incorporates five new case studies of companies that have since adopted transformational HR practices since the first edition came out.
    • Mr. Timms examines the differences in the organizations before and after this adoption and shares the techniques each one of those companies deployed to make transformational HR practices work for them.
  • One of the most important updates in the second edition centers around socializing the shifts HR departments want to make and how HR is viewed as a service.

The Pandemic’s Effect On The Future Of Work

  • With the pandemic came the increased need for digital connectivity.
  • Mr. Timms observed that managers were seemingly trying to engineer serendipity by scheduling meetings just to “check-in.”
    • This was a big factor in “Zoom fatigue”
  • He also compared the practices that were widely used throughout the pandemic to what he wrote in his book in 2017 to try to understand what had changed and what still held true through COVID-19. 
    • He felt that many of the transformational HR practices he had written about had found ways to emerge even through the struggles of the pandemic.

A Sense Of Urgency

  • HR Professionals should have some sense of urgency when it comes to adopting and implementing transformational HR practices because we never know when the next pandemic or workplace issue might arise.
  • HR has proven itself in the time of crisis throughout the pandemic, so now is the time to step on the gas, not let off of it, when it comes to further innovating and preparing our workforces for future crises. 
  • As HR Professionals, we now have the opportunity to be a little more bullish and a little more intentional following the events of the last 18 months. 

Take Action

  • In order to truly take advantage of transformational HR practices, HR Professionals must work in digestible, individual bits.
    • One of the first steps we can take is to ask “what is the impact of the work we do?,” and more specifically, what does it mean to human beings, not just the financial aspects of the organization.
  • Another suggestion is to work in pairs.
    • Even between people with different job descriptions and responsibilities within HR, sharing your work with each other can lead to innovative new solutions that can benefit both parties. 

People & Transformational HR, Ltd.

  • People & Transformational HR, Ltd. began about 10 years ago with Mr. Timms running the organization individually.
  • After writing the first edition of his book, Mr. Timms realized that he should bring on a team around him, and there are now 12 people at the company.
  • The company focuses on organizational design, change, and performance. 
    • When working with HR, they typically work around responsiveness, adaptability, performance, and fulfillment in work.
  • Prior to the pandemic they would meet with companies in person to help them create a transformational HR atmosphere, but since then they have implemented labs.
    • Labs are online workshops where the Transformational HR Ltd. consultants present a real world issue and work through it as opposed to just teaching the concepts of how to solve the issue. 
    • These labs correlate with many fo Mr. Timms’ book’s teachings. 

Perry Timms Background


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