Lynda Gratton’s Contribution to the Development of Strategic HRM


Lynda Gratton is an organizational theorist, a professor of management practice as well as a consultant. She is widely known for her Hot Spots Movement that was launched in 2007. The movement focuses its attention on the methods that HR professionals can utilize to transform their organizations into hot spots of excitement and energy. Gratton  currently serves as a professor of management practice at London Business School. Prior to becoming a professor, Gratton once served as a chief psychologist at British Airways. Later on, she moved to a management consultancy firm and served as a director. This research paper evaluates her contribution in the development of strategic HRM. It establishes that Gratton has made significant contributions towards the development of strategic HRM in areas such as conceptual approaches used in SHRM and signature experiences. Other areas include the link between business strategies and human resource processes, HR strategies and employee management.

Lynda Gratton’s Contribution to the Development of Strategic HRM


Gratton’s academic career started in 1989 when she became an assistant professor at the London Business School. Since then she has published a number of books and articles. One of her most influential books is   Living strategy” that focuses its attention on the methods that HR professionals and line managers can use to put human capital at the heart of their corporate purposes. Since its publication in 1998, the book has been translated into over fifteen languages due to its influence on strategic HRM. Gratton focuses her attention on the interface between organizations and human capital (Gratton, 1998). She specializes in publishing articles and books that address the new ways of working, the rise of multifaceted collaboration in employee management and the impact that changes in employment have on organizations and work. In addition, in the resent years she has established a global initiative that   involves some global companies and performs researches on their productivity.   Therefore,

this research paper aims to evaluate Gratton’s contribution towards the study of strategic HRM. The attention is focused  on a number of publications that Gratton has, on her own and together with other publishers,  published since she started her career .

 Gratton’s Rules of HR Strategy

In one of her most influential articles, Gratton evaluates the critical role that the link between business strategy and human resource processes plays in strategic HRM. She establishes that the absence of this link may hinder organizations from moving past their corporate rhetoric of developing statements of strategic intent. In order to address this issue, Gratton proposes and describes a process that can be used to discuss alignment between human resource processes and strategic intent. She considers four important aspects of SHRM. Firstly, she evaluates the methods that HR professionals can utilize to solve tactical problems. Secondly, the author evaluates the methods that HR professionals can utilize to identify aspects of HR systems and processes that create greatest leverage as well as the systems that pose greatest risks to the implementation of business strategies. Thirdly, she identifies the HR methods that can be utilized to build cohesion across HR systems (Gratton, 1994). Fourthly, she identifies the methods that can be used to achieve strategic intent by gaining the commitment of HR professionals. Besides doing this, Gratton further evaluates a process that can be utilized to align future strategic factors with human resource capabilities. She recommends a method that HR professionals can use to align their strategic intent with business strategies. By so doing, Gratton contributes to the development of strategic HRM, especially in its key areas . She particularly contributes to the development of the link between business strategies and HR processes together with systems.

In 1998, she introduced the new rules of HR strategy. Gratton looked at the critical role that human capital plays in organizations. She asserted that the ages of organizations relying on technological and financial capital were long gone, and that organizations were focusing their attention on human capital. However, the problem with human capital is that people have hopes and dreams to achieve. They can subsequently choose to either give their knowledge or withhold it as they search for meaning in their work. In order to address this challenge, Gratton claims that organizations ought to create a sustainable bond between employees and their aspirations to achieve business goals together with corporate long-term strategies. She recommends for the development of people processes even if such processes often send conflicting messages to corporate messages (Gratton, 1998). Subsequently, she recommends a new set of HR strategies.

Firstly, she recommends human resource professionals and line managers to think about HR processes and not the paper work. She claims that strategic approach for managing human capital requires a process rather than a human resource document. Gratton encourages human resource professionals to engage in dialogues with employees rather than dictate their ideas in a top-down manner. She asserts that this helps organizations to achieve their strategic goals (Gratton, 1998). In terms of contributing to strategic HRM, Gratton identifies the need for dialogue and efficient processes in managing human capital.

Secondly, Gratton encourages human resource professionals to become the guardians of the future of their organizations. She urges HR professionals to place people and their inspirations, knowledge and skills at the center of HR strategies so that they can create competitive advantage for their organizations. She also urges HR professionals to be patient with human capital as it develops. Her argument is that  it takes time before human capital is developed. As a result, HR professionals should focus their attention on the future rather than on short-term goals.  She asserts that organizations should shift their focus from short-term to long-term goals so that they can give human capital some time to develop (Gratton, 1998). Subsequently, she helps HR professionals to acknowledge the importance of focusing on the future rather than limiting their focus on the present issues alone as they work towards developing human capital.

Thirdly, Gratton establishes that HR professionals and line managers should learn to view their organizations as complex systems. She recommends that as organizations become complex, HR professionals are challenged to view them as complex institutions. They are challenged to think systematically, consider the manner in which people process work together as well as look at areas of improvement. Fourthly, Gratton claims that HR professionals and line managers should learn to partner with employees and understand changes. Her argument is that the ability to visualize the future and create processes to support it, comprehend forces that shape organizations and think systematically lies in developing a long-term HR strategy founded on employees. Gratton identifies line managers as critical actors in shaping the future of their organizations (Gratton, 1998). In this article, Gratton contributes towards the development of SHRM by clarifying what HR professionals should do to align human capital with business strategies. She identifies the challenges and focuses her attention to providing solutions to those problems.

Theory of Hot Spots as Contribution to HRM

In her book Hot Spots: Why some teams, workplaces, and organizations buzz with energy – and others don’t, Gratton looks at the elements that organizations can use to create hot spots. She starts by defining hot spots and proceeds to looking at the issue chapter by chapter. In fact, hot spots appear when one feels energetic and full of innovative ideas  and this state is shared by others who contribute to the overall success of the company. It is a process when one feels that something importaint in working environment is being achieved that relates to the goals, mission and values of the company. In the first section she provides an overview of hot spots, the elements that support them together with the practices that enhance their functioning. In chapter two, the author looks at the development of hot spots in different parts of the world. As she does this, Gratton tries to show how hot spots  emerge and the force behind them together with the people that support their emergence. In addition, she develops a formula that can be used to develop hot spots. In the third chapter Gratton takes a closer look at the development of a cooperative mindset which forms part of the hot spots. She contends that cooperative mindset develops out of a self-fulfilling cycle that drives the design of processes and practices that legitimize some behaviors as it delegitimizes other behaviors (Gratton, 2007). moreover, she argues that the emergence of cooperative mindset depends largely on the attitudes of leaders towards competition and cooperation, as well as on their willingness and capacity to craft a sense of collegiality and mutuality within an organization. Gratton argues that this element forms the basis for the development of hot spots.

In chapter four, the author  looks at the boundary spanning which is also another element of hot spots. She evaluates the importance of spanning boundaries by identifying the methods that can be utilized to eliminate boundaries with ease and elegance. In chapter five, she looks at igniting purpose that forms the third component of hot spots. As Gratton demonstrates, igniting purpose can either be a task, question or a vision. The absence of such a purpose, on the other hand,  can dissipate the potential of hot spots. Further,, Gratton looks at productive capacity which is the fourth element of hot spots. She evaluates the critical role that this element plays in creating energy and excitement among other contributing factors. Chapter seven evaluates the roles that leaders play in hot spots whereas chapter eight focuses its attention on the methods that can be utilized to develop hot spots (Gratton, 2007).

With the help of this book, Gratton contributes to the development of strategic HRM by evaluating the methods that HR professionals can utilize to develop hot spots in their organizations for the pursuance of strategic goals. She establishes that HR professionals ought to play critical roles in the development of hot spots within their organizations.  She further states that besides developing strategic goals, HR professionals ought to spearhead the processes of developing people processes (Gratton, 2007). Overall, Gratton provides tips that HR professionals can utilize to turn their teams into hot spots of excitement and organization.

Employee Attraction

In another article, Gratton in collaboration with Tamara Erickson looks at the factors that make companies great. The two establish that success of organizations lies in their abilities to attract and retain the right people that get excited by what they do and the working environment of their organizations. According to Erickson and Gratton (2007), such people tend to work for the company rather than advocate for better benefits or salaries, and as they do this, they find ways to satisfy their own preferences while meeting the aspirations of their organizations. In order to find such employees, organizations are supposed to introduce new workers to their practices of doing business and articulate the values and attributes that define their working environments. In addition, organizations ought to provide experiences that express their true stories. In the process of doing all these, organizations are able to empower their employees and attract the right people.

The signature experience concept developed out the research that both Erickson and Gratton conducted within a period of five years. To do this, they picked a number of organizations with highly engaged employees and compiled a checklist of practices for those organizations. They established that the talent management practices for those organizations varied greatly (Erickson, & Gratton, 2007). As they looked further into those variations, they realized that the variations formed the bases for the organizations to manage their employees effectively. Their conclusion was that majority of the organizations in their research understood their employees clearly as they managed to understand their potential customers.     For distinctive purposes, organizations are supposed to provide signature ex