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The aim of this research study is to assess the impact of effective HRM and change management on maintaining high standards in operation. It is a study of how managers, planners and the work force may enhance the standards of their service or product on a sustainable basis through a positive approach to Human Resource Management, which is sensitive to change and prioritizes flexible planning, communication and cooperation.
The objectives of the project can be specified as follows:
To clarify the process of employee placement and selection that results in prioritizing flexible, open-minded employees.
To determine the importance of focusing on the candidates' flexibility and responsiveness to training as major criteria in their selection.
To identify the types of conflict that result from shortcomings in Human Resource Management when change becomes a necessity.
To specify the impact of these on change and quality management.
To discuss the measures that facilitates change in relationship to the workforce.
To make suggestions as to how to improve operation and quality by taking appropriate measures in people and change management.
Questions in response to which these objectives will be pursued are:
What are the major criteria for the employment of work force and how these can be improved in terms of people being positively responsive to change?
Why is the implementation of these criteria important?
What are the problems that may arise if these are not taken into account?
How effective are these measures in improving the operation?
What measures are to be taken to improve change management in relationship to people?
How can these enhance operation and quality?
The Context and Background of the Proposal
The research study will be an interdisciplinary study utilizing the findings of three major branches of management studies to discuss how cooperation of these managerial positions and proper planning within organizations can guarantee the success of the organization in terms of overall productivity of the operations, handling of change, quality and business success.
Preliminary Literature Review
Effective human resource management is increasingly becoming a major concern for organizations striving for business success (Collins & Porras 1994). The European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM's) guidelines to self-assessment refer to human resource management very broadly, as "How the organisation releases the full potential of its people". A review of books, papers, journal articles, case studies, quality award submissions, etc. indicates that the best and practically viable people or human resource management activities found in role model organizations are: communication (Collins & Porras 1994, Purser & Cabana 1997); encouraging employee commitment and participation (Collins & Porras 1994, Mumford & Hendricks 1986); empowerment (Milliken 1996, Mumford & Hendricks 1996;); training and development (DeToro & McCabe 1997, Milliken 1996); teams and teamwork (Beck & Yeager 1996; Milliken 1996). Yet implementing these can be more effective only when in the initial stages of employment, measures are taken to select those candidates who are flexible and open to change and when all sides of management -planning, budgeting, operations and quality assurance - are conscious of the people side and how important it is to be ever-ready for change. Otherwise, none of these activities can lead to employee satisfaction and operational success. Business success in all its forms necessitates human relationship and to improve this relationship, companies need to provide their employees with the networking and management facilities that make job satisfaction possible, which in turn, as Johansson (1995) explains, leads to the improvement of quality and costumer satisfaction. The modern world is a world of rapid change and fierce competition. As McCalman et.al (1992) explain, organizations want to change due to transformations of external and internal environments, which invariably drive the alteration from the statues quo. Thus effective management of human resources and change are of primary importance in operations and business success and they become doubly important if we know that the most difficult aspects of change management and quality assurance are the ones dealing with preparing people, transferring knowledge and increasing moral commitment to responsible working.
What is Operation Management? As a term in management, 'operations' refers to the activities and processes that transform 'input resources' to 'output products and services' (Slack et al 2007: 1), and operations management concerns itself with "managing the resources which are devoted to the production and delivery of products and services" (Ibid. 4). This simple definition, however, suggests that an operations manager should function and liaise within an intricate structure of managerial and technical relations and positions. Thus as the 11th edition of APISC Dictionary defines the term, 'operations management' focuses on
the effective planning, scheduling, use and control of a manufacturing or service organization through the study of concepts from design engineering, industrial engineering, management information systems, quality management, production management, inventory management, accounting, and other functions as they affect the organization (APICS Dictionary, 11th edition, [emphasis mine])
In fact, a close examination of any organization demonstrates that all 'support functions' (for instance, accounting, finance and human resources) and 'development functions' (creating new products and services) primarily exist to facilitate the production of a value-added saleable product or service. As a result, one can argue that in any organization, operations management is among the key managerial positions. It carries the burden of making the best choices for the improvement of the products and services in the face of competition - in terms of quantity, which necessitates increasing 'capacity'; quality, which requires targeting the ultimate 'zero defect' standard; and the implementation of the necessary requirements for the production of the new products planned by 'development functions'.
It is in this regard that HRM and change management become central to the success of any operations. Offering new products or services requires implementing rapid change which goes beyond buying new machines and demands the implementations of systems that prepare and train people for new ventures. It is important to note that there is no difference between service and product organizations in this regard. Service organizations provide a simultaneous - and non-separable and non-portable - intangible, heterogeneous and perishable (SHIP) set of actions or facilities that need to be utilized by customers in order to have functioned properly (Sasser, Olsen & Wright 1982: 1/in Wynne 2007). Product organizations, on the other hand, offer a set of tangible, primarily homogenous and storable products that need to be marketed and transported and retailed. They may seem inherently different, but they both need to be responsive to new developments in machinery and people's expectations and need to have operation strategies that respond to outside demands and facilitate change.
Operations Strategies: Challenges and Aspirations in Quality and Capacity. Operations Strategy is "the patterns of decisions and actions that shape the long-term vision, objectives, and capabilities of the operation and its contribution to overall strategy" (Slack et al 2006: 34). It includes "the selection and acquisition of resources (equipment, buildings, materials, labour, technology and information), and the configuration of those resources between different locations ('resource perspective')" (Wynne 2007) in order to achieve maximum efficiency in long-term goals of production. Capacity is "the maximum level of value-added activity that an operation, or process, or facility is capable of over a period of time" (Slack et al 2007: 699). Operations management is to maintain or increase the capacity of his system according to both the current demands and the forecasts of future demands. As Slack et al (2006: 239) explain it is important for any organization to maintain a balance between the two poles of operations: "Insufficient capacity leaves customers not served and excess capacity incurs increased costs". Quality is characterized by the 'consistent conformance' of the product or service with 'customers' expectations' in terms of "functionality, appearance, reliability, durability, recovery, etc" ((Slack et al 2007: 704). It is, of course, possible to make a distinction between service and product quality emphasizing such aspects as 'responsiveness, competence, access and courtesy' (Parasuraman et al (1985) in Baxter & Wynne 2007: 9) in service which are of marginal importance in product development. Yet once more in both kinds of operations, quality and capacity, which require systematic readiness for change, are in the fore fronts of an organization's operational and thus business success.
What is Human Resource Management? The European Foundation for Quality Management's (EFQM's) guidelines to self-assessment refer to people management, as "How the organization releases the full potential of its people" and Michael Armstrong defines "Human resource management (HRM)" as "a strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organization most valued assets: the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of its objectives" (2003: 3). Within this approach, it is necessary to "achieve 'fit' or integration between the business and the HR strategy"; to provide "mutually supporting employment policies and practices"; "to aspire towards "gaining commitment to the organization's mission and values"; "to treat people as assets rather than costs" and provide "learning and development opportunities" for them; to believe that "employees share the same interests as employers" and to implement HRM "as a line management responsibility" (Ibid. 4). If we put these two definitions together and reflect on them in the context of other studies on successful management (Collins & Porras 1994; Purser & Cabana 1997; Yingling 1997) we will discover that the most feasible people management activities found in role model organizations are: utilizing human resource expertise for the selection and placement of flexible, dependable and skillful employees; establishing efficient channels of communication in order to keep this work force up-to-date and motivated; encouraging employee commitment and participation; empowering, training and developing their potential; helping them work in teams. It is also demonstrated that successful implementation of these measure is bound to enhance employee-employer and employee-employee relationship and help both achieve their business targets.
Philip Crosby in his Quality is Free (1980) argues that rather than setting up systems to inspect defects and return them for reworking, the best strategy to improve quality is aspiring towards the ideal of 'zero defect' in which the management is to set up a system in which each employee becomes the quality control of the part for which s/he is responsible. This is an ideal situation for the achievement of which the management first needs to make the employee-employer and employee-employee relationships so positive that the employee considers himself/herself a part of an organic whole that requires his/her service for its survival and in turn helps him improve and provides him/her with opportunities to feel valued and dynamic. Such an employee will be fast to respond to the operational needs for change and considers it to his advantage to learn the new ways. However, the achievement of such a relationship requires the implementation of the above-mentioned processes, particularly those which are geared towards establishing effective channels of human to human communication between the management and employees.
What is Change Management? S. Maguire (1995) in her 'Learning to Change' argues for the necessity of establishing above human resourcing tools. She asserts that, to thrive, organizations must value their people by recognizing and taking advantage of people's latent ability. Maguire also argues for a subtle shift in thinking that transcends the limitations of Human Resource Managements, explaining that: "People are not an organisational 'asset', nor are they components in an organisational machine. People are the organisation - nothing happens without them". She also argues that the significance of these soft people management processes best reveals itself when the company needs to undergo rapid change to adjust itself to new business models, technology and market demands.
This brings us to one of the most important functions of HRM, developing a 'change strategy' which aims to alter the status quo in a manner that minimizes negative effects on productivity and overall operation. Achieving that aim is not easy since people are involved. Thus the first question to be asked in discussing change management is 'why is it necessary to change especially when we are aware of the challenges it entails? As Keith Johnson explains, "change originates mainly from external pressures, to which an organization must respond if it is to survive" (2007, Week 4: 2). However, any change is best defined in terms of the need to prepare people for change because without them no change can result in success. HRM, therefore, needs to respond proactively to a number of external drivers: (1) globalization, which has introduced competition from anywhere; (2) the necessity for growth, which requires that the company increases its revenues and markets or leave the battlefield for competitors and retrogress; (3) new technology, which demands training facilities that allow the employees to 'make best use of the potential it brings' to the company and (4) intellectual capital, which demands that HRM be responsive towards new ideas for change which give competitive advantages to the company. (Ibid.2)
Thus as McCalman et.al (2000) explain organizations change in response to the transformations of external and internal environments. Yet whereas he defines the transformations of internal environments in terms of personal and communal changes imposed from outside; P. Senior (1997) identifies the internal triggers for change as changes in people (attitudes, beliefs, skills), scale of activities and organizational tasks, organizational strategy and structure, products or services, reward systems or use of technology. However, even the change in people's attitudes, beliefs, etc. has something to do with the circumstances outside. We can thus conclude that the changes in the external environment are the most influential ones in determining the need for change and that the most important aspect of change management is the success of HRM to keep the employees motivated through training. The secret to change management is, thus, to hire people who respond well to change and to prepare people for change, which means not to surprise them or to catch them off guard.
What Happens If HRM Fails to Implement Efficient Change Strategies? If HRD strategy fails to prepare people, we will meet resistance. Turnover and absenteeism are just two ways people express their disapproval of change. Other ways include sabotaging change (such as not complying with it) and finding alternatives to change (like doing the work manually rather than using a computer). One of the main reasons why changes have come to the forefront of an organization's life is the fact that organizations now live and survive within a sea of change known as the external environment. It is thus only a sound HRM strategy that can respond to changes in economic forces, legislation, customer expectations and technology which have increased the necessity of change. As Mc Calman et al explains any organization that ignores the necessity of change does so at its own peril (2000: 5) and a failure to implement a powerful change management strategy which is often the result of failure in effective HRM, significantly increases the amount and often-traumatic effects of change in organizations (Kotter 1996) leading to significant failures in operations and business success.
The success of HRM in fulfilling the task of developing an effective change strategy lies in the efficiency of the channels through which planning, operations and production managers liaise with HRM to develop efficient change strategies for people. HRM, on the other hand, needs to "forecast future demands, future internal supply and future external supply", to "formulate a plan based on these forecasts" and to implement the requirements of its plan in relationship to facilities and channels of communication. It needs to be in contact with experts who keep on the top of the modern technology and can even develop internally built machinery and develop training materials that facilitates training the employees. It also needs to predict change and prepare people for the change far before it is implemented. In short, it needs to be in contact with and utilize all the company's operational, marketing, designing and quality resources in order to keep its people on top of the change rather than allowing them to crush under its force and begin to sabotage the process of change.
Methodology and Data Collection
My project is essentially a library-based research. I need to examine articles, books, case studies, etc. on Human Resource Management, Operations Management and Change Management and try to locate those studies that examine the relationship between these managerial positions and how failure or success in one can affect others. However, to strengthen the findings of my research with more expert perspectives, I will also conduct some qualitative and quantitative data gathering. The qualitative side will be conducted in the form of controlled, yet flexible, interviews with experts working on human resource and operations management. The questions will be pre-planned to address such issues as communication, team work, personal satisfaction etc., in the context of change, quality and operations management. The quantitative side will be conducted in the form of questionnaires distributed among students. The questionnaires will be developed to address similar issues.
An examination of the above managerial positions and organizational requirements demonstrates how an awareness and implementation of Human Resource processes and strategies can help organizations attract, cultivate and keep the best workforce they can possibly find in order to have a competitive margin over similar companies. In my dissertation, I will reflect on how HRM awareness of the need to develop change-centered HRD strategies can improve the quality of the selection of the employees and keep the company's human resources motivated by establishing channels of communication and encouraging employee commitment and participation by creating means to empower and train them for functional and cross-functional teamwork. I will also reflect on the necessity of change as one of the most important aspects of operations strategy in the modern world and demonstrate how change can become traumatic, sending the organization down the track of failure if human resource change strategies are not in place. The study will also try to demonstrate how we can benefit from HRD strategies for reducing conflicts and increasing employee-employee and employee-management relations.
As it is clear from the subject, the main objective is to develop a framework by which HRM, change and operations management can be improved. The findings may be significant in that they contribute to the body of work related to human resource management in the context of implementing change and improving operations. By using the interviews and questionnaires, I hope to enhance the findings of my research and develop a theoretical framework that offers methods to improve operations and quality through efficient HRM and change management.