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In the past, the Human Resource function and the Human Resource Development (HRD) aspects of a business have been neglected as they were not seen as important enough to need any attention at all.
In this day and age however, these very two things have proven to have one of the most vital roles in modern business, as they have the potential to yield the most benefits and advantages to any company.
Human Resource Management is a central component of the strategic management process, which deals with the management of people in organization. It also entails ensuring an organization has a committed, skilled, informed, and capable workforce in which all employees consciously and deliberately invest their capabilities into the business. This is done based on the fact that the employees of a company are their most important asset. For the company to move forward and improve on itself it needs to improve the strength of its workforce.
From this we see that HRD is a lever for companies to empower their employees with the necessary knowledge and skills that will make them add more value to the organization as a whole (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:9).
This involves the training and development of employees yet also goes beyond this, and includes career development, performance management, coaching, succession planning, and organization development.
In the following assignment we will explore the HRM function and its different facets. We will also look at how employees are affected by changes in the business environment and the impact it has on them as individuals and the impact on the company.
1.1 Define Human Resource Development.
1.2 What roles does the HR practitioner play in HRD?
Human Resource Development (HRD) deals with the strategic management of people in organizations and is very closely tied to Human Resource Management (HRM). According to Storey (1995), HRM is a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve a competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce using an array of cultural, structural and personal techniques (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:9).
HRD has also been described as the framework for helping employees develop their personal and organizational skills, knowledge, and abilities. Human Resource Development includes such opportunities as employee training, employee career development, performance management and development, coaching, succession planning, key employee identification, tuition assistance, and organization development (http://humanresources.com).
From this we can conclude that HRD works towards ensuring the organization has a capable and committed workforce that helps maintain and sustain its competitive advantage. Having this type of employee adds value to the organization as a whole.
HRD accomplishes this by going beyond the training and development of employees, it also grows the individual on a personal level, and adding to their skills, knowledge and abilities, and this improves performance and job satisfaction, thus maximizing efficiency and also improving motivational values. All this in turn gets fed back into the company, and its customers. These human resources are also developed with the businesses distinctive strategies in mind, thus ensuring all aspects are working together towards a common goal.
The HRD practitioner plays a very important role in an organization as they strive to ensure the constant benefits of value addition. They are also concerned with aligning the employees' skills, abilities, attitudes and behaviors with that of the organizations corporate strategies. These roles can be encompassed in four ways, namely:
- The change agent role, works with change and organizational learning through cultural interventions. This may entail responding to changes in a quick and efficient manner as to minimize the negative impacts that these changes may produce.
- The provider role, here the HR practitioner offers respected expertise aimed at the maintenance of organizational performance. Here, problem areas or issues are dealt with to keep the company running and working at its optimum capacity.
- The passive provider role, this concerns itself with performance maintenance. This is also an administrative role, which ensures that employees' development is done efficiently, effectively, and at the right time. This also ensures that employees are kept satisfied with their current working situation as well as making them more valuable to the company.
- The training manager role, this role involves the coordination of the training function. Training, as a whole, can be expensive and time consuming. It is therefore vital that it is managed well to ensure that the time and money invested in the training function (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:14).
In addition to this the HR practitioner also has other roles/responsibilities, such as:
- Working towards the maximum utilization of individual and group potential for learning and adapting to meet organizational objectives in a way which fulfils the needs and aspirations of employees.
- To remove inhibitors to learning and replaces them with supportive systems for continuous learning, while creating a climate conductive to continuous learning and improvement (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:15).
Due to the HR practitioner being concerned with many different roles and responsibilities, he/she cannot be successful if work is done in isolation. Gathering information from different sources and factions ensures these processes are carried out to yield maximum benefits. Employee input is also essential to integrate and align employee goals and objectives with that of the company.
This also aids the HR practitioner in his/her ultimate responsibility, which is to ensure that a competitive advantage is attained through to development of companies' employees.
2.1 Explain the concept of a learning organisation?
2.2 With reference to an organisation of your choice critically evaluate how the five people behaviors to be encouraged in learning organisations, according to Peter Senge, can lead to the attainment of competitive advantage.
The ability to learn as an organization is an important attribute to the overall success and development as an organization. It ensures that all aspects of the company communicate and share valuable knowledge to complete tasks and reach goals. It also ensures that the company can compete in its respective industry and deal with the changes in its environment due to the continuous updating of employee skills. Becoming a learning organization may also lead to unique advantages within the industry which sets the company apart from others.
One such definition describes a learning organization as an “Organization that acquires knowledge and innovates fast enough to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. Learning organizations create a culture that encourages and supports continuous employee learning, critical thinking, and risk taking with new ideas, allow mistakes, and value employee contributions, learn from experience and experiment, and disseminate the new knowledge throughout the organization for incorporation into day-to-day activities” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/).
In addition to this, Peter Senge (1990:3), had said that a leaning organization is “... organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.” In simpler terms a learning organization is one that learns and encourages learning among its people. It promotes exchange of information between these people and thus creates a more knowledgeable workforce. This produces a very flexible organization where people will accept and adapt to new ideas and changes through a shared vision (http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/). In conclusion, a learning organization is one which people at all levels, individually and collectively, are continually increasing their capacity to produce results which favor everyone involved.
Becoming a learning organization is attainable for all companies. In accordance with this there are five disciplines described by Peter Senge which are essential, and should be encouraged at all times. With reference to a common auto sales company we will see how these disciplines can help in the attainment of a competitive advantage:
- Team learning, teams are the fundamental learning units. It is teams who are the fundamental learning units and not individuals. Therefore, team learning focuses on the ability of group to learn, because if the group cannot learn then the organization cannot learn. Here people learn best from each others experiences, the manner in which they address problems, and also the feedback from their team and results. In the case of the auto sales company, the sales people in the department may share this information between one another, thus improving the overall sales for that business. In addition to this, members from different departments can share information between each other and this will improve the overall level of information, aiding the company in many its strategy formulation.
- Shared visions, all members of the organization must understand, share, and contribute to the vision for it to be realized. It is also advisable to allow for large numbers of people to helping the drafting of these vision, people are then more motivated to support the vision. This ensures that people do things because they want to, and not because they have to. In any company (with reference to the auto sales company) this will increase motivation, job satisfaction, and in turn this will increase productivity of the employees. It will help the company move forward and increase growth (Blanchard and Thacker 2007. 431).
- Mental models, every individual has their own perceptions about the world they live in, sometimes these theories are according to what they have learnt and believe. If other individuals can constructively challenge each others assumptions and ideas, they will be able to perceive and possibly change mental models to create a shared model for team members. In an auto sales company, as in others, this will be useful in the alignment of mental focuses to achieve goals and objectives.
- Personal mastery, this is the process of clarifying and adding depth to an individual's personal vision, and practicing and refining skills until they are internalized. This in turn develops self esteem and boosts confidence when tackling new challenges. In relation to the auto sales company this may increase the level of bench mark standards and therefore improve employee performance. Perfecting skills in relation to certain processes may also lead to the employee becoming more efficient in those processes; this may in turn lead to time savings and possibly even capital savings. It may also lessen the risk of errors occurring as this may lead to the loss of customers or even to the damaging of the companies' reputation.
- Systems thinking, this refers to the individuals' ability to see the bigger picture and see beyond the norm choices. Systems' thinking also links up the other four disciplines, yet it is also true that systems thinking cannot be achieved without the other four disciplines. The ability to see the whole picture also allows employees to relate their actions to achieve longer term benefits or advantages. If all the employees within the auto sales company knew the effects of their actions and how it affects them, they may be more inclines to do their best to benefit the company in an effort to benefit them (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:39-40).
These strategies may be difficult to implement, due to the expanse of the resources involved. Some companies may even may rethink their the decision to go forth with these implementations yet most of them do accept that becoming a learning organisation is a crucial and essential step in the growth of the company. They see that the potential advantages are so large that the companies are willing to make that investment.
Becoming a learning organisation will result in the company being able to play on its strengths, build and identify new strengths as well as possibly eliminate weaknesses and possible threats. It can also result in an increase in the commitment and performance from employees making the company more effective in accomplishing short or long term goals and objectives.
3.1 What is the importance of evaluating training for organisations?
3.2 Using practical examples analyse the usefulness of Kirkatrick's model of evaluation.
Although measuring the effectiveness of training programs could be expensive and time consuming, it is still an integral part of determining whether or not the program has been successful or not.
Evaluation of training also determines whether there are problems that need to be addressed, or strengths that can be built on. Having a well designed training program also makes identifying these strengths or weaknesses easier. As well as obvious benefits such as the above mentioned factors, evaluation of the training process will help the company keep up with its constantly changing environment i.e. its competitors, technology, legislation, and regulations. The evaluation process also provides feedback from the trainers as well as learners, these aids in the improvement of the quality of training.
Easterby-Smith identified four main purposes of training, these are:
- Proving, determining that the training worked from factual information. It also deals with measuring the impact of the training.
- Controlling, this refers to the resources put into the training program, and seeing whether it was feasible for the company.
- Improving, here, problems that may have been encountered are dealt with, making the process more beneficial for the business.
- Reinforcing, this uses evaluation efforts as a deliberate contribution to the learning process itself (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:70).
Proving and controlling are known as summative processes; as they seek a single acceptable answer. They also tend to rely on factual data which have to be assessed before taking further actions. Improving and reinforcing are formative as they seek a broader understanding about the processes in order to take actions or reach conclusions.
Donald Kirkpatrick developed a very well known model for measuring the effectiveness of training programs, which has inevitably stood the test of time and encompasses four main steps, these are as follows:
- Reaction, (how well an employee liked a particular program. This will also be a determinate for whether or not the employee learnt anything during the process.
- Learning, (what principles, facts and techniques were understood and absorbed by the employee)
Behavior, (changes in on-the-job behavior. This is also an indication of the employee putting what he/she has learnt into practice in the workplace.)
- Results, (measurable factors that influence the workplace, such as reduced costs, reduced absenteeism, increased production, etc) (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:71).
A simple example of this would be a pupil in a classroom, where the teacher tries to teach a new lesson. In this case, the reaction stage will refer to whether or not the learner enjoyed the lesson or the way the lesson was conducted. The learning stage will refer to the knowledge or skill the learner acquires. The behavior stage will be noticed if/when the learner used this new skill/knowledge in his/her daily activities, and the result stage will be determined when the learner produces results that either helps him/her positively or negatively.
Another example of this may be seen when a salesperson goes for training with reference to how they can reach out to customers more efficiently. Here, the reaction stage will again refer to whether the salesperson enjoyed the seminar/lesson on the subject. The learning stage will refer to whether or not the salesperson leant anything during this time. The behavior stage will see if the salesperson had changes his/her methods to incorporate the new skills/knowledge gained, and the results stage will see whether or not the training was a success or a failure.
4.1 Using practical examples illustrate your understanding of the concept of knowledge management.
4.2 Make a business case outlining the benefits of knowledge management for organisations.
Employees at all levels and facets of company accumulate knowledge over time. This knowledge concerns many different aspects of the company, such as the wants of customers, the design of products, processes, and the strengths and weaknesses of the company. Companies that can collect and use this information effectively can gain a good advantage over its competitors. The ability to attract and retain talented employees is a central issue in the maintaining or the implementation of new strategies.
This knowledge can also be used to reach other company objectives such as improving performance, gaining a distinct competitive advantage, provide insights, reduce redundancy or streamlining business processes.
A common definition of knowledge management states that, “delivering the right knowledge to the right person at the right time”, (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:83).
Another definition by Snowden (2000) says that “The identification, optimization and active management of intellectual assets, either in the form of explicit knowledge held in artifacts, or as tacit knowledge possessed by the individuals or communities. It is worth noting that in organizations this is done in order to win competitive advantage”, (HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:83).
In addition to this yet another definition states that knowledge management are the strategies and processes designed to identify, capture, structure, value, leverage, and share an organization's intellectual assets to enhance its performance and competitiveness. It is based on two critical activities capture and documentation of individual explicit and tacit knowledge, and its dissemination within the organization, (http://www.businessdictionary.com/).
In simpler terms, knowledge management could be defined as practices that are used in an organisation to identify as well as enable the adoption of different insights and skills. This also includes the gaining, identifying, harnessing, and use of accumulated knowledge for the benefit of the company.
If we look at a currently existing business such as S4-auto dealers located in Johannesburg, South Africa we can then see how the business environments affects the company as well as the challenges they face as a company ant the potential benefits knowledge management can offer to such a company.
In today's ever changing business environments, companies' reactive strategies should be adaptive and based on a faster knowledge cycle. S4-auto has attempted to develop their reactive strategies yet still face certain challenges such as:
- Growing customer service and customer value demands
- Changes in employee direction which could lead to knowledge loss
- Increasing rates of innovation within the marketplace
- The reduced amount of time employees have too acquire knowledge
- The need for adaptation due to changing business rules and regulations
- Operating with lower volumes of assets, such as people, inventory and facilities
- Changes in strategic directions
Although the management process involved can be difficult to initiate and maintain especially to smaller business, (S4-auto), the benefits and advantages provided by such an initiative. These factors have made knowledge management even more important than before, as this knowledge can help the company keep up with its ever changing environments and even combat some of these negative effects.
The benefits of knowledge management, relative to S4-auto, include:
- Generating new wealth, with the introduction of knowledge management employees may be able to reach customers more easily.
- Increasing revenue, using an employee's skills and knowledge in conjunction with information systems and strategies of the business may prove to be beneficial to the company in the acquisition of revenue as the employees may be able to make more sales.
- Opening new markets, new information may provide mew insights into potentially new markets or customer groups who were not targeted before.
- Improving decision making, more informed decisions can be made faster and with less unknown factors.
Lifting productivity and efficiency, insights into new processes or new ways of accomplishing old process maybe uncovered.
- Aid in the streamlining of business processes, new information may make tasks easier to accomplish or may provide the company with information concerning new technologies which may help in company processes.
- Better preparation and anticipation of future events, information provided by employees, customers, data systems or other sources may make forecasting future events more effective.
- Unleashing new potential, an employees potential or given talent may be uncovered, ultimately making him/her a more valued asset to the company
- Speeding up innovation
- Help develop a more, adaptive, responsive, dynamic, flexible organization
- Gather superior intelligence over competitors
(HRDV1209 Study Guide V1.0:85).
Human Resource Development and all its characteristics are a vital part of any organization. They provide important data and feedback on operations that the company or business needs to function more effectively.
There are many different facets of the HR function that are crucial to the success of a company, and there are even more facets of HR that can be used and even exploited to give the company a completive advantage over its competitors. These facets may have been ignored in the past, but have now been acknowledged for their role in the facilitation and value addition that they pose to organisations
It is the ultimate goal of most, if not all companies to build on their growth and become increasingly successful in the industry they compete in. By understanding the importance of Human Resource Management, Human Resource Development, becoming a learning organisation, employee training/development and knowledge management and using these strategies to improve the company internally as well as externally, any company or organisation can set itself ahead of competitors and possibly even find a distinctive place in the market.
It is advisable that all start-up companies as well as currently operating organisations take these factors into consideration when developing their own HR strategies as many benefits can be yielded form the implementation of these strategies and the following of these processes.