As I did my daily HR reading this morning, I came across an abstract for an interesting study from Zhongxing Su and Patrick Wright (of Cornell and now University of South Carolina fame). The study examined which HR best practices are most associated with high performance in China, finding that a mix of conventional “Control HR” practices (such as open competition for positions) and “Commitment HR” practices (such as formalized grievance procedures) typically yielded better results for Chinese firms than adopting a strictly westernized HR system.

…Honestly? A lot of the practices lumped into both buckets sound like conventional/western HR practices to me. I’ll need to read the full study to learn more, but many of the practices associated with high performance at the Chinese firms – such as promotions from within and regular performance reviews – are things that good HR organizations everywhere should be doing. Regardless, this is an interesting study and you can check it out here.

With that said, the reason I shared this today is because it made me think of an interesting observation I’ve made working in a myriad of different environments around the world. I’ve served as an HR Generalist primarily supporting warehouse employees and route drivers in Boston, supported geographically dispersed client groups out of a corporate office in the heart of the Midwest, worked as a Generalist in a manufacturing plant (that sat adjacent to an office space) in a big city, and worked within a multi-national team on a project that ultimately took us to multiple corners of India. In each case the work styles of the teams I partnered with and the client groups I supported were different – no two approaches worked exactly the same.

…Now, as I’m managing people for the first time in my career I’m finding the same dynamic within teams – everyone has a different work style. As such, while there are general themes around coaching, vision, and empathy that seem to be universally effective, there are other aspects of management that vary by person (such as the degree to which they need to be micromanaged).

…As such I am beginning to think that instead of seeking to implement HR best practices / benchmark everything that we should instead be looking internally at our workforce to understand what works best for our company cultures and (local?) employee populations. I’m not sure of what this looks like from a resource or practicality standpoint yet, but I wanted to share my thoughts here this morning.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.