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HR Book Review: HR Beyond the Theory by Charles Goff-Deakins

Developing yourself as an HR practitioner can come in many forms, not just studying for a qualification or attending a training day.

Reading HR books can give you fresh perspective to take your career to the next level.

ICS Learn student Charles Goff-Deakins has turned his experience of working in the process into his book, HR Beyond the Theory. You may recognise his name from his blog, The Avid Doer.

HR Beyond the Theory takes us on a journey through professional practice, with actionable guidance to improve your HR career. We’ve been eagerly awaiting this book; now that we’ve got our hands on it, we’re here to give you the low down on this text.

The book is written in a friendly and approachable way, often giving a wry glimpse into Goff-Deakins’ own experience.

The narrative is personal and speaks directly to the reader in a conversational manner. Far from the jargon-filled tomes often suggested to HR practitioners, this is a casual book that can be delved into at your leisure.

The author creates a narrative around his early days in the profession, assuring readers that they’re not alone in their fears of public speaking, struggles with job searching or even battling against the dreaded imposter syndrome.

Woman Reading A Book

These anecdotes add context and break up the larger concepts in the book. The approach that Goff-Deakins takes within the book will encourage you to keep reading and making sense of these complex theories.

Drawing on this experience, the book picks up pace with a series of snappy chapters. They focus on the essential skills of the HR practitioner, with a whistle-stop tour of data-driven practice, organisational design, and continuing professional development.

Throughout the book, Goff-Deakins explains his approach to topics. Where he focuses on the basics or delves into a detail, he explains his rationale to the reader. This is all with the intention of giving you the information that you need to become a better HR practitioner, without overloading you.

The approachable nature of the book makes it easy to fit a chapter or two in when you have some free time.

This book takes us through helpful hypothetical scenarios in many chapters. We go from the initial brief, through to the questions you should be asking and how to get the results that you want. The book doesn’t provide an individual scenario for every possible requirement, instead the author offers an approach to tackling all scenarios that fit under a certain umbrella.

We won’t give too much away, but one scenario in the book likens event planning to making a good cuppa. Both seem simple on the surface, but by asking questions and aligning processes the outcome can be drastically different.

It’s not just Goff-Deakins’ thoughts you’ll find in this book either, as he calls upon a series of specialists to give their opinions on the profession. These specialists have moved into data, casework, wellbeing and other areas of HR. They describe their likes and dislikes of their role, as well as how they ended up in it.

If you’re interested in a career in HR, or want to navigate your existing career more expertly, this book is a must read. With actionable advice and helpful tips, HR practitioners at any stage in their career can benefit from refining their professionalism with this book.


Get your copy of HR Beyond the Theory by Charles Goff-Deakins on Amazon.

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