Hugh Secord Published Works

Implementing Best Practices in Human Resources Management, CCH, Toronto, 2003 (also published in 2001 as Secord’s A to Z Guide For Human Resources Practitioners)

A comprehensive review of the application of fundamentals in organizational behaviour directed towards assisting HR practitioners in developing “Best Practices” and influencing corporate culture. The book discusses major HR terms and concepts and provides practical advice for practitioners on how to implement programs and avoid potential pitfalls. A major theme underlying each subject is defining the role of the HR practitioner, which will vary from taking the lead and championing an initiative to being a coach or facilitator depending.

The centerpiece of the book is a discussion of the Employment Cycle a concept the author developed to put HRM into the context of a management process. As a conceptual tool the Employment Cycle assists practitioners in analyzing current practices to determine how processes such as recruitment, orientation, performance management, and training are interlinked. The tool is meant to be descriptive as well as being diagnostic. By understanding process deviations the practitioner can focus on initiatives that will have the greatest impact on improving organizational culture. This results in building the HR department as a value-added service.

Communications Practices In Human Resource Management, Carswell, Toronto, 2005

This book challenges HR practitioners to think about all the different ways organizations communicate “culture” and to see communications as an intricate system. When we communicate we not only send an explicit message but also implicitly convey other “meanings” such as emotions, values, and intents. In designing communication’s strategies the practitioners need to consider the desired outcome, choose the appropriate content/message, and decide which media are best suited to achieving the objectives.

The book places on heavy emphasis on exploiting personal communications channels like cascading messages down the organizational hierarchy, emphasizing personal media (meetings, conferences, telephone conversations) as a set of preferred choices over impersonal channels (memos, video-taped messages, e-mail). The book also considers the inherent messages carried by the choice of media (e.g. a face to face meeting signals greater importance than an e-mail can). In addition practitioners need to think about non-verbal messages that are created either deliberately or inadvertently through the way the organization looks. The choice of furniture, art work, office décor and workplace layout implicitly tells an observer about the values of the organization and provide important clues regarding its culture.

Understanding Labour Relations Strategy, (to be published in 2012)

This book examines the theories behind the development of strategies in different contexts and applies them to the practice of labour and employee relations. It is premised on the belief that labour relations practitioners tend to adopt reactive approaches to respond to organizational crisis or employee demands rather than developing proactive strategies to develop the workforce as the organization’s key competitive advantage.

C.K. Prahalad a professor of strategy suggests that human resources lack the theoretical underpinnings to demonstrate its pivotal role in business organizations. Without a theoretical foundation human resources practitioners are unable to explain why things happen, how events are related to each other and how different events weave together in generalized patterns that allow us to predict outcomes. In order to distinguish the advice provided by human resources practitioners as something more than isolated transactions they must be able to conceptually explain how sound human resources management practices lead to predictable outcomes.

This book examines military strategies, game theory, decision theory and corporate marketing strategies and develops the groundwork for applying these concepts to the practice of labour relations. From these we are able to diagnose current practices and predict which strategies will be most effective in a variety of contexts including maintaining a union-free culture (alternatively employing suppression or substitution strategies), creating winning strategies in an adversarial environment and developing collaborative approaches in mature union-management relationships.

The book examines strategies at different levels in the organizations from the mission statement (or organizational doctrine), through the operations level and down to the granular level of applying the concepts to negotiations or responding to an organizing drive. Consequently the book should serve as a practical model for anyone who wants to think of how organizations can become more strategic. The ultimate focus is on creating competitive advantage.


Co-author, The Ultimate HR Guide, CCH/HRPAO, 2005

This is essentially a practical guide for novice HR practitioners that provides advice on how to deal with a variety of subjects. I wrote the sections on Recruitment and Selection, Performance Management and Labour Relations and parts of the Employment Law and Health and Safety segments. This work is co-marketed by CCH and the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (Canada’s largest HR association).

Co-author, HRANSWERSNOW, CCH 2003

This is an on-line product where HR practitioners can pose a question and get advice on how to handle different situations. I contributed in the areas of Staffing, Employee Development. Employee Surveys, Employment Contracts, HR Strategies, and Retention Strategies