Analysis And Comparison Of Four Management Activities Business Essay


This essay examines the importance of the role and activities of a Human Resource Manager in medium ' large organisations in the UK and shows how the role and FOUR of the main activities of a line manager compare and contrast with the Human Resource Manager's strategic and operational role and in the four activities chosen. In the essay the author provides theoretical and practical examples from wider reading of text books, journals, experience in work, the Internet and UK business organisations to support the examination of these managing people at work 'good practices' in people management activities. The Times Top 100 UK Companies and the FTSE list were used for practical examples of 'good practice' and its link to theory. The four activities chosen are Recruitment and Selection, Training and Development, Managing Performance and Motivation.


Introduction 6

Main findings 7

I. The importance of the role of HR manager in medium-large UK organisations 7

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II. The activities and role of Line(LN) Manager 7

III. Context analysis 8

IV. Recruitment & Selection(R&S) 8

a. Key concepts 8

b. Main theories 9

c. Key models 9

d. Good Practise examples 10

V. Training and Development(T&D) 10

a. Key concepts 10

b. Main theories 11

c. Key models 11

d. Techniques of analysis 12

e. Practical examples 12

VI. Motivation 13

a. Key concepts 13

b. Main theories 13

c. Key models 13

d. Practical examples 14

VII. Managing Performance(MP) 14

a. Key concepts 14

b. Main theories 15

c. Key models 16

d. Practical examples 16

Conclusions 18

Bibliography 19

Appendix 1-PEST & SWOT analysis 21

Appendix 2- The recruitment and selection model 23

Appendix 3- Learning and Development model 24

Appendix 4- Motivation model 25

Appendix 5- The performance management sequence 26




Lefkothea has a degree in Information Technology (IT) and a 10 years working experience in the IT field. She works as a Network Operations Centre (NOC) technician in a medium-scale Greek University and for the past year she is on study leave in order to do her MSc. Before moving to UK, she had worked for 2 years as an IT consultant for the Greek deputy Minister of the Interior. She considers that she has a relatively good experience of being a line manager and a good sense of managing people's behaviour, as her job most of the time included the management of small groups of people (i.e. other IT technicians and contractors).

In Greece, were she was born and raised, the concept of HR (Human Resource) management is still not very popular and it is now growing and expanding as an idea and practise. However, this essay is her attempt to comprehend and present the basic concepts of HR management in the UK and hopefully this study will contribute to the improvement of her management skills. She believes that having all 'square pegs in square holes', the continuous training and development of professionals, the motivation of employees and finally their performance management are the four most important HRM activities which will be discussed in this essay.

Main findings (Word Count=3,467)

The importance of the role of HR manager in medium-large UK organisations

The role of HR practitioners in an organisation can vary widely depending on the level of the hierarchy they are involved. In general terms though, their role is supportive and advisory to other managers[Haffner,2010a]. HR professionals can play different roles in an organisation. Sometimes, they have to facilitate changes or adjustments (change agents), other times they have to work in analysing problems and proposing solutions (internal consultants), while other times they have to play the service delivery role for line managers, team leaders and employees. Above all, they have to be the guardians of the organisation's values and ethics[Armstrong, 2009].

When HR managers are involved in a strategic level they are likely to participate in the decision- making process. The strategic role of HR managers is about the formulation and implementation of HR management strategies that are aligned to business objectives and contribute to the development of business strategies. However, when HR professionals play the business partner role then they share responsibility and work closely with line managers providing an everyday basis support[Armstrong,2009].

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The importance of HR managers' role in medium- large organisations relies on the impact that HR strategies have on performance. HRM does not impact directly on the organisational performance. All organisations are influenced by the internal and external environment(contingency theory- PEST/SWOT), however, HRM practices make an impact on employees' characteristics; these characteristics can improve performance and achieve better financial results[Armstrong, 2009].

The activities and role of Line(LN) Manager

On the other hand, the primary role of LN managers is to take all the decisions in their department[Haffner,2010a]. Typically their management responsibilities would include managing people and operational costs, providing technical expertise, checking quality and measuring operational performance, however, in many organisations LN managers now have to carry out traditionally HR activities. Furthermore, the LN manager role is crucial especially in areas where, although the process may be designed by HR, it cannot be delivered by HR[CIPD,2010a].

More importantly, LN managers have to build a good working relationship with their staff and create effective teams, have to guide and support employees and finally encourage discretionary behaviour which will result in higher performance. However, because it is not enough to educate LN managers in higher quality management, organisations should also develop the environment and culture in which LN managers are actively encouraged to exhibit the above behaviours[CIPD,2010a].

Context analysis

At this point it is important to describe the context in which this essay will be deployed. In the Appendix 1 there is a detailed PEST analysis for the Food retailers' industry. The subjective weighting results(+15) indicate that the industry is in good shape, and that the economic climate has influenced it positively[Haffner,2010a]. The Tesco's SWOT analysis(-10) on the other hand(Appendix1), implies that the company still has margins for improvement[Ivoryresearch,2010].

Although Tesco has invested in different countries and markets, risking at the same time its profits and capital, still depends on the UK market, thus being vulnerable to its changes and exposed to 'market concentration risk'[Ivoryresearch,2010]. Their general strategy at this point is 'growth'; however the recent changes in the UK food retail arena (Wal-mart purchased Asda) threatened the company's rank as the top UK supermarket. Tesco expands into different services and retailing areas, nevertheless they need to consider the good PEST analysis and emphasize on recruitment, training, motivation and performance management methods that will be aligned to an international profile and fortify the company's position abroad[Ivoryresearch,2010].

Recruitment & Selection(R&S)

Key concepts

The procedure of R&S aims firstly, through a fair, efficient and cost effective process, to obtain 'a pool of suitable candidates for vacant posts'[Haffner,2010b,p.7] and secondly to apply appropriate techniques and methods for selecting, appointing and inducting competent persons for these vacant posts. The ultimate cause of this act is to discover and employ people, who will 'fit' the business strategy and contribute in achieving the organisation's SMART objectives[Haffner,2010b]. The HRM approach to resourcing includes the concepts of Human Resource Planning(HRP) and Human Capital Management(HCM), which aim to create a flexible and productive workforce that will contribute to the organisation's competitive advantage[Haffner,2010b].

Main theories

Two main theories, both 'emphasising on the 'fit' between the person and the job environment'[Haffner,2010b,p.15], have been developed regarding the R&S methods, the traditional and the processual one. The first one reasonably supports that choosing the right people for the right positions helps an organisation to avoid major problems that may emerge like labour turnover, absenteeism and low productivity. The second one is 'based on fixed dimensions of both the job and the person, with the organisation's management having the sole prerogative to determine the fit'[Haffner,2010b,p15]. Organisations don't have to choose strictly between the two approaches, a mixture of the them can produce a more effective and efficient one[Haffner,2010b].

Key models

The HR and LN managers share different but complementary roles in the R&S procedure. HR managers design the fair policies and procedures and advice other managers on the law aspects of R&S[Haffner,2010a]. Especially during the interview process, HR managers assure that the sex, race and disability discriminations Acts and the Age Discrimination Regulations will be considered[Armstrong,2009]. LN managers on the other hand, act more practically by creating the job analysis/descriptions and by carrying out the interviews always under the auspices of HR managers[Haffner,2010a]. However, it is important for all managers and team leaders to be trained in interviewing techniques[Armstrong,2009].

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The R&S model, depicted in Appendix 2, is based on the traditional approach. The table below summarises the basic steps of the model and the involvement of HR and LN managers in every step of the procedure. Clearly, the HR and LN managers will be both functional but the 'HR Manager or Department will develop the strategies in line with good practice'[Haffner,2010b,p.11].

Table 1: R&S the basic steps of the R&S procedure and HR 'LN managers' involvement[Haffner,2010a]


Good Practise examples

Recruiting and selecting the right people is of paramount importance for medium-large companies in the UK. Through their R&S Policy they try to ensure that the best people are recruited and the recruitment process is free from bias and discrimination. The job description plays a critical role. For example, BT aims to create a 'high-performing, engaged and motivated team who can make a difference for the customers, the shareholders, the company and themselves'[BT,2009]. They also consider that the quality of leadership is vital for the company[BT,2009].

On the other hand, for GSK, every year's recruiting and retaining procedures are critical for 'enhancing and sustaining their performance and reputation'[GSK,2009]. They are more focused on 'talent acquisition initiatives'[GSK,2009] in order to attract specialists and they have good succession plans for all the critical positions across the organisation[GSK,2009].

Training and Development(T&D)

Key concepts

Learning for employees is a continuous process that mostly arises informally through work(informal learning). The further aim is for employees to be 'equipped with the right skills, knowledge and competences in order to undertake current and future tasks'[Haffner,2010b,p.22]. Training, on the other hand, is a systematic and planned activity to promote learning and when it is formally performed ensures that the defined needs are met[Armstrong,2009]. However, whether learning and training are effective and efficient depends on employees' personal development plan which relies on their confidence, capability, motivation and the guidance they get from their managers.

Organisations performance and strategy are related to the concepts of learning culture and the learning organisation. Both of them should be integrated with the achievement of business objectives and human resource strategies and should be taking into account the needs and the aspiration of people for growth and development[Armstrong,2009]. Each organisation should support processes which ensure that all individuals and teams have equal opportunities in T&D.

Main theories

Two main and contradicting theories exist about the investment on Human Capital(HC), in terms of training and developing employees. From one hand, successful organisations achieve their strategic objectives by supporting the theory that 'trained and developed employees add more value to an organisation'[Haffner,2010b,p.26]. On the other hand, criticism of the learning organisation outlines that its major weakness is that it seems to pay less attention on what or how individuals want to learn and therefore might not be accomplishing the desired results[Armstrong,2009].

Armstrong supports that 'establishing a link between learning and organisational performance is problematic' because it is difficult to 'distinguish between cause and effect'[Armstrong,2009,p.659], contradicting studies that advocate that a well-designed training programme can be linked to improvements in business results. However, it looks that the impact of T&D on performance can be measured by using the 'return on the investment' formula:

(benefits from training (')-costs of training ('))/(costs of training (')) ?100 [Armstrong,2009,p.696]

Key models

The activities of the HR manager, regarding the T&D, are mostly about planning and administering the procedure according to the organisations strategic plan[Haffner,2010a]. The HR Development is basically led by the competences and the motivation of employees, the HR managers though play a vital role in 'persuading the employer to release resources for this activity'[Haffner,2010b,p.21], by arranging training and development programmes and monitoring the whole process[Haffner,2010b].

The promotion of learning is considered an important aspect of LN managers' responsibilities as well. They have a key role in 'facilitating learning by conducting performance and development reviews'[Armstrong,2009,p.689] and helping their staff to implement their personal development plans through coaching and mentoring[Armstrong,2009].

The table below summarises the activities and the involvement of HR and LN managers on the systematic T&D model depicted in Appendix 3.

Table 2: the involvement of HR and LN managers in the T&D model[Haffner,2010b]


Techniques of analysis

There are two techniques of analysis for training and developing people. The first one is the Learning Curve, which refers to the 'time it takes an inexperienced person to reach the level of performance on the job or the task'[Haffner,2010b,p.27]. The second one is the Forgetting Curve which depicts the degeneration of performance through time. Each employee has its own learning and forgetting curves and all the T&D programmes should consider this diversity and assure that every individual has equal opportunities in the process[Haffner,2010b].

Practical examples

Organisations like BT and Tesco are committed to developing their people and provide their staff with training programmes and personal development planning. Furthermore BT, in order to improve their customer service performance they encourage people to volunteer in communities and even work with other organisations. Finally, GSK launched a mentoring scheme where each senior leader mentors at least one individual[BT,2009][Tesco,2009][GSK,2009].


Key concepts

Motivation, described as a goal-directed behaviour, is a key concept for management and is related to almost every activity managers perform. There are two types of motivations, the intrinsic and the extrinsic. The first one can 'arise from the self-generated factors that influence people's behaviour'[Armstrong,2009,p.318]. Employees can be self-motivated when they feel that their work is important, challenging, fulfilling and provides reasons for further development. The second type of motivation includes rewards such as payment, praise, promotion but punishments as well[Armstrong,2009,p.318].

The methods and techniques of motivation should be described in the organisation's HRM Strategy. Motivation is mostly about setting SMART objectives for people either tangible or intangible. Therefore, well-motivated people are people who are willing to put effort in order to achieve their own SMART objectives contributing at the same time to the organisation's performance[Armstrong,2009].

Main theories

Many theories have been developed regarding how and why people are motivated. Some of them are about satisfying needs(Maslow), others about peoples expectancy for rewards(Expectance) and some others are about bi-polar employees(McGregor). The most interesting one, the goal theory, which implies total and integrated involvement of LN and HR managers, supports that SMART objectives play an important part in determining work behaviour and performance. Setting realistic objectives, providing feedback and involving employees in setting these objectives are principles associated with high performance[Haffner,2010d].

Key models

The role of HR manager in the motivation function is to design fair policies related to performance which will 'provide challenges and motivate staff across the organisation'(motivation strategy)[Haffner,2010a,p.19]. The role of LN manager though involves more practical functions like the implementation of organisational policies and keeping the motivation high[Haffner,2010a].

The motivation model, in Appendix 4, depicts the theory developed by Porter and Lawler. This theory suggests that the effort that will be expended in a given situation depends on the value of the rewards and on the individuals' expectations. Effort though, is effective if produces the desired performance. The theory advocates that two variables affect effort, the ability and the role perceptions which have to be coincidental between the individual and the organisation[Armstrong,2009].

The table below is based on the Armstrong's HR contribution on motivation list[Armstrong,2010,p.330-331) and outlines the involvement of HR and LN managers in motivation. The bi-polar technique of analysis was used for creating this table.

Table 3: HR and LN activities in motivation functions

HR manager

Practical examples

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust motivates employees within the 'Framework for Partnership Agreement' to develop a culture of involvement and a 'framework for change in behaviour and practice'[NHSpartners,2007]. A research conducted for the NHS about the importance of involvement to organisational performance proved that the trust's initiative helped to improved employees' relations and resulted in significant reduction in disciplinarians and grievances cases[NHSpartners,2007].

Organizations offering a positive culture and a learning environment have more satisfied employees who are motivated to perform better. Every employee, in Kelloggs, has an individual development plan, while 80% of Napp's employees think that working for the company is good for personal growth and find their training of great personal benefit[TimesOnLine,2010a][TimesOnLine,2010b].

Managing Performance(MP)

Key concepts

Performance management(PM), as a means of getting better results within an agreed framework, should focus on two objectives, firstly to ensure that people are motivated to perform and secondly to support a personal development programme for everyone[Haffner,2010c]. PM operates as a continuous cycle and is about establishing a culture. In order to be efficient and effective it should be strategic, integrated with the corporate strategy and should incorporate with performance improvement, development and managing behaviour[Armstrong,2009].

The performance appraisal is the first basic component of PM. Effective and efficient systems rely upon the precision in the definition and measurement of performance. 'Most employees want direction, freedom to get their work done, and encouragement not control'[Haffner,2010c,p.6] and consider fairness and natural justice as the most important assets. Performance appraisal should be objective, based upon job analysis and should be taking into consideration the diversity and individuality of staff[Haffner,2010c].

The second component of PM, the reward management, is a strategic task which includes the concepts of reward policies/procedures and payment systems. 'Managing rewards is largely about managing expectations'[Haffner,2010c,p.22], which could be expressed either by contracts of employment or by relational contracts. Once these contracts are in place, employees should be motivated towards improved performance. Finally, each organisation's payment strategy is shaped after the negotiations between employers and trade unions and is mostly affected by the organisations/industry context.

Main theories

'When performance is managed effectively and efficiently the organisation will be more able to achieve its strategic objectives and its employees will be motivated and thus retained longer'[Haffner,2010c,p.4]. PM is underpinned by three main theories. The theory that connects goals to performance outcomes(goal theory), the theory that pays attention to feedback as a means of shaping behaviour(control theory) and the theory that is base on the central concept of self-efficancy(cognitive theory)[Armstrong,2009].

Finally, measuring performance, the basis for generating feedback, is an important concept in PM. All jobs produce outcomes, therefore it is possible to measure performance by reference to what 'outcomes have been attained in comparison with what outcomes were expected'[Armstrong,2009,p.623]. Most performance management schemes include some form of rating which indicates the quality of performance or competence achieved[Armstrong,2009].

Key models

The involvement of HR managers in this activity is mostly in 'designing and monitoring of the performance management system'[Haffner,2010a,p.19], integrating it with the corporate mission with an emphasis on preserving the rewards relative to competitors. LN managers on the other hand may be more involved in 'negotiating with their staff and trade unions or dealing with pay and reward grievances'[Haffner,2010a,p.19] but mostly they are involved in the performance appraisal process. However, PA often is considered a 'dishonest annual ritual'[Armstrong,2009,p.619] because either LN managers are not interested or they don't have the skills for doing it.

The table below summarises the involvement of HR and LN managers in the basic steps of the PM activity, as it is depicted in the performance management model in Appendix 5 adopted by Haffner with a few alterations. The bi-polar technique of analysis has been used for creating this table.

Table 4: LN and HR managers' involvement in PM


Practical examples

BT conducts a review of salaries every year. The company apart from giving bonuses to managers, their 'long-term incentives are linked to BT's total shareholder return performance measured over a period of three years'[BT,2009]. Employees outside the UK receive an annual award of free BT shares or a cash equivalent while in the UK, employees receive free broadband[BT,2009].

For GSK 'the performance and development planning process means employees have business-aligned objectives and behavioural goals'[GSK,2009]. Their reward systems 'motivate high performance and help to attract and retain the best people'[GSK,2009]. The company uses performance-based payment, bonuses and share-based equity plans[GSK,2009].

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust improved the appraisals procedure by using an e-learning training programme. The Medical Appraisals Programme has made it easier to update new doctors on the appraisal system, to train medical staff who wish to become appraisers and generally improved the quality of appraisals carried out across the Trust[NHSpartners,2007].


The analysis and comparison of the four selected activities indicate that both LN and HR managers play different but important roles for organisations. However, in the business world, everything is about performance, effectiveness and efficiency. The question is what is the impact of HR or LN managers' activities and roles on the organisation's competitive advantage and on the achievements of SMART objectives?

Up to now though, the HRM does not belong only to specialists but belongs to every manager who gets results through people. Still though, it is difficult for HR managers to gain the support and commitment of LN managers, who need to be assured that every proposal will lead to better results without additional burdens.

LN managers are the front line soldiers for organisations. They play the strongest part in structuring people's actual experience, they influence discretionary behaviour and they play a pivotal role in enacting HR policies and practices. When employees develop a good relationship with their LN managers are more likely to have higher levels of commitment and loyalty, thus perform better.

The introduction of HR practices in the business, on the other hand, is related to the life quality improvements people have been experiencing the last century. The position of the HR managers' in organisations is about to change over the next years as employees will demand and gain more rights for fairness, equal opportunities and justice. Over the next years the business world will realise even more that its power is relying on the investment in Human Capital and that assuring that people operate in a secure and satisfactory environment will contribute to organisations' prosperity.