ReThinking Human Resources

Often, employee development managers influence the character of organisations and their work to a large extent. The Positive HR approach integrates the core paradigms of brain research, positive sciences and organisational design into HR work.

Positive HR

  • Assumes that employees and individuals are fundamentally motivated, but that favourable basic conditions are necessary to make good performance possible;
  • Consciously places the focus of HR work on resources, potentials and strengths and attempts to discover and support them resolutely and on an ongoing basis;
  • Analyses successes and extraordinary performances in detail in order to identify potential for learning and to seek opportunities to apply them in other areas of the company.

In essence, the roles, processes and instruments of HR management are aligned with a few main principles, which can in turn be derived from the company's vision. Positive HR acts both on how the organisation and the individuals who work there are managed.

Reading recommendation

Johannes Köpl: ReThinking Performance Management.
On a new alignment of performance management

Johannes Köpl: Positive HR – Human Resources neu denken. (German) 
New research findings from the Positive Sciences bring new solutions and ways for human resources

Jürgen Sicher: Let’s talk about strengths. (German)
A report from practical examples: strengths-based dialogue as an instrument for internal recruitment

Claudia Wintersteiger: A Visit at W.L. Gore.
A company led in a completely different way

Claudia Wintersteiger: Stärkenorientiertes Mentoring. (German)
A form of support with unimagined possibilities

The cornerstones of Positive HR

Systemic-constructivist concept of organisations

We perceive organisations based on Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory and we regard organisations as living and learning systems in their own sense and meaning. Organisations and people decide on the basis of their specific assumptions (“inner map”), selective perceptions and interpretations, into which new experiences are continually being integrated. Under these assumptions, neither people nor organisations can be steered directly, since they act in line with their own individual logic, which can never be fully understood or changed from the outside. This poses new requirements on leadership and the design of organisations. At the same time, contemplating organisations in such a manner facilitates coming to terms with complexity and therefore dealing with it, since it is not a given under the assumption of absolute predictability.

Positive Sciences

Based on the development of positive psychology (Martin Seligman), a broad-scale cross-disciplinary movement has formed in many scientific fields over recent years, which can be summarised as positive sciences. In addition to positive psychology, important contributions stem from the fields of brain research (Gerald Hüther et al.), economy (Richard Layard) and various areas of organisational research, for instance positive organisation scholarship and positive leadership (e.g. Kim Cameron), strengths-based management (e.g. Marcus Buckingham) and flow research (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). What these approaches have in common is a focus on strengths and potentials, a concept of individuals characterised by trust and appreciation and a radical orientation towards finding solutions.

Organisational Design

Organisational design is an approach to change and design organisations in a fundamental manner (e.g. Naomi Stanford or Oliver Schrader/Lothar Wenzel). The core concept behind organisational design states that the objective of every change in an organisation must in the end lead to a change in the behaviour of the people who work in the organisation, but behaviour cannot be steered directly. People behave according to their own logic, which they align with external conditions. Any change, therefore, must address precisely these conditions: from organisational structures, processes, instruments and communication structures all the way to policies and architectural aspects, such as the design of production facilities, offices or meeting rooms. These conditions are called “forms” in organisational design. Organisational design means to align all the forms within an organisation with a few central guiding principles. These principles should describe the individuals' desired behaviour. The idea is: if all the forms are geared towards principles that foster a certain kind of behaviour, people will chose a behaviour, without the necessity of strict rules being imposed, that seems to be meaningful in light of these forms and therefore corresponds to the principles.

Created with and for subject-matter experts

What matters most to us, in order to translate the theoretical insights into real-life models and instruments, is to get in touch with those individuals who will use these instruments in the end: experienced HR executives.

This is the goal of our co-creation programme, which facilitates joint learning and development. trainconsulting provides the necessary framework, gives ideas from a theoretical background, helps to exchange know-how and offers input to create instruments of Positive HR which can be implemented in the day-to-day practice.

One co-creation programme cycle includes regular workshops which deliver input from the latest scientific discoveries and present case studies from actual HR situations. Any insights gained can be tested right away. The results are then discussed in the group.

As an additional source of ideas, we organise one-day excursions to innovative enterprises where it is possible to experience Positive HR structures in practical use. The results gained from these common research endeavours are discussed in peer consulting sessions with the intention to discover solutions that can be implemented in real-life situations in the participants' own organisations.

In this setting, the participants learn, research and develop ideas about Positive HR for about six months. The topics range from executive development, performance management, recruitment based on strengths and the review of specific instruments to reflecting on one’s own role and designing change processes.

If you would like to know more about our Co-Creation programme, please do not hesitate to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


If you are interested in Positive HR, please get in touch with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We will be happy to provide detailed in formation.

What our participants have to say

Wolfgang Braunböck
Vice President, Human Resources Eastern Europe, CIS, Middle East and Africa

“This programme really helped me to reflect on my own HR work, find new ideas, experiment and arouse curiosity. HR sometimes gets “lost in transaction” and caught up in the daily business. The study trips were very exciting and the exchange of opinions was very fruitful. And implementing Positive HR was not so difficult in the end, because it is simply such an appreciative way of working.”

Alexandra Leopold
Head of HR, Knill Technology

“It was time very well spent. I really learned a lot and have already transferred a great deal of it to my work. I have now begun to put together a book of ideas, since there was so much inspiration.”

Johannes Köpl

Johannes Köpl

Consultant for change management, leadership and organisational design; expert in organisational culture and international management; highly experienced in HR management, employee and organisation development in Austria, Costa Rica and the USA.

Eva Peter

Eva Peter

Expert and professional coach in positive leadership, employee development, positive change and conflict management; experience in leadership and project management at companies in Central and Eastern Europe, France, Switzerland and the USA; over 10 years' experience in HR and employee development management

Jürgen Sicher

Jürgen Sicher

Sparring partner, source of inspiration and coach to executives, expert in organisational design, change management, positive leadership and positive HR; generates HR strategies that focus on strengths; facilitates the implementation of HR concepts; many years of management experience in the international context

Claudia Wintersteiger

Claudia Wintersteiger

Self-employed consultant, trainer and coach for over 10 years; expert in sustainable change management, positive leadership and HR management based on strengths; experienced in management functions at multinationals such as Nike and Mondelez

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