Personal Reflections on Human Resource Management
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Human Resource Management and Conflict Management( Week 1)
It was a bunch of mixed feelings inside me while getting ready for the very first class of Conflict Management, I was excited but also nervous at the same time, but credit to our teacher Jason who made everyone in the class very comfortable and soon the environment in the class was very lively
The class started from the scratch of the subject, we were given the introduction of the module first, and then what is 'Human Resource Management' as a subject and then moved forward towards Conflict and Industrial relations. In my opinion understanding Human Resource as a subject was very important before starting with Conflict Management and Jason did an excellent job by clearing the basics first and then moving on to the new concepts.
Before understanding Human Resource as a subject it was really necessary to know the history of the subject, as what did Human Resource meant to the organisation in the past, and what it means now, I felt that there was a huge difference as in the past the preference was given to (1800 -- early 1900's known as scientific management era) processes, increasing productivity, cost reduction, which then further moved on to (1920- 1940 known as Human Relations movement) social environment, employees view perspective and then finally to the present era( 1940 - Present), according to which Human Resource is the most significant component in the organisation and laid emphasis on Human Resource Department responsibilities including motivation for employees, Individual needs and values, social influences etc., which means that in the present time 'Human Resource Management' as a department is very essential for organisational survival, because the organisation is by the people and to manage organisation we have to manage people which is the responsibility of Human Resource Department. The present scenario of Human Resource Development has been contributed by changes in technology, advanced communication, globalization and increasing diversity.
After studying the history, we discussed the Human Resource Environment and the challenges faced by it.
During this session, there were few things that got clear in to my mind about 'Human Resource Management', most importantly it is not only about staffing people, it is far more than that.
I personally feel that Human Resource Management has moved on to a new level, and it is equally important if not more, than all the other functions in the organisation. i.e marketing, finance, operations etc., because of globalisation Human Resource Department has become critical in the success of an organisation as it has to look and consider the laws and practices of other countries, their work practices which plays a great role in international business.
After studying Human Resource Management as a subject and clearing all the basics we moved on to another and the main dimension of our course 'Conflict Management'
The question in my mind was how do the managers handle conflicts, apart from doing all the basic work of Human Resource Management such as staffing people, training and development, streamlining operations etc, When and how do they manage conflicts? I got my answer when Jason discussed the process, techniques and the methods that managers undertake to handle the conflicts, we were explained different stages of conflict resolution from a manager's point of view and then the different approaches that managers undertake to resolve the conflicts, i.e assertive, objective, informed, and flexible
The approaches that we were taught could be of great help in our future because we can come to know that what approach suits our personality and what approach we should use to resolve a particular conflict.
I'm sure all the learning's from the first week of this subject will take me a long way in my career, and I will practice all the concepts in my real life, and moreover all the basics of the subjects got cleared in this session which is very necessary to build on your knowledge about the subject, and it gave me an idea about what our employers will expect out of us when we finish this course.
Conflict and its Stages (Week2)
Almost in every day routine or in newspapers, magazines, TV we all come across this word CONFLICT. Conflict can be seen in almost every human activity and every relation we make (Freddie Strasser, 2004) Conflict can be defined as a struggle to resist or overcome. It can be over any reason .They are just inevitable in nature. Like anyone else I used to treat conflict as an untouchable disease and used to run away from it, but with my sessions with my module leader and readings changed my opinion about them. All conflicts can't be regarded negative in nature. They can be broadly classified as
Positive Conflict-Theses conflicts are the conflict that let the people and the organization to grow solve problem effectively and stimulates creativity. A study conducted by American Management Association showed the following positive outcomes of the company:
Tension instils creativity
Pressure leads to better ideas
People get chance to test their capabilities
Negative Conflict-Such negative conflicts are those conflicts which decrease the efficiency the team by creating an atmosphere of mistrust, tension and fear. Such disputes divert the energy towards the destructive end.
According to me conflict just can't happen all of a sudden (in most of the case), it's a series of various phases. According to Pondy there are basically four phases of conflict:
Latent conflict-Such type of a conflict is under the surface and is waiting to abrupt. It is conflict waiting to happen. There are basically three types of latent conflict (Harold J. Leavitt, 1964)
Competition for scarce resources,
Drive of autonomy &
Divergence of subunit goals
Perceived Conflict-According to Pondy conflicts is sometimes perceived even when there is no latent conflict. Such type of conflicts occur majorly due to misunderstanding between the parties and can be improved by communication.
Felt Conflict-At this stage there is involvement of emotions which results to stress, awkwardness, anxiety etc. According to Pondy emotions get involved in the conflict only if the personality of an individual is involved in the relationship
Manifest Conflict- This stage is characterized by overt and rude behaviour, which results due to earlier conflicts.
Conflict and after that-If the conflict gets resolved it results in satisfaction among the parties and better working relationship in the future while on the other hand if conflict don't get resolved it results in more serious conflicts
Organisation and Classical Theory (Week 3)
Organisations are the group of people working together to attain a common goal. I believe organisations develop out of necessity because a single individual cannot accomplish great tasks without help. The main objective of all the organisation is to earn profit and provide services to its customers. Organisation plays a major role in the diversification of its employees and is also a source of motivation and coordination among them. Organisations are not made up with the set of rules or policies, but are made up of group of people working together towards the same direction.
The organisations are basically structured according to its purpose. Traditionally organizations followed the concept of division of labour, however now work may be divided into teams or different departments, more organisation today are striving for horizontal structure (L.Daft, 2007).
Talking about the organisational theories, most of the organisation falls under the classical theory which was evolved in the first half of this century. It basically represents the following three theories:
Bureaucratic Theory (Max Weber)- Weber emphasized on the hierarchal distribution of powers. A formal set of policies and rules were introduced so as to maintain uniformity. Weber suggested that working in a bureaucratic way routines' your work just as the machine routines the production. The main aim of Weber was to achieve speed, accuracy, efficiency, regularity and ambiguity in work but ironically today according to Clifton people in bureaucratic organizations spend more time on muddling through the red tape then to work towards their aim
Scientific Management Theory (Fredrick W. Taylor)- This theory is often referred to as "Taylorism". This theory have basically four principles: a) find the best way to perform, b) division of labour according to the skills, c) keep a check on workers, provide motivation as well as punishment when required and d)management role is to plan and control.
Administrative Theory (Henri Fayol)-According to Fayol management had basically five functions namely to forecast & plan i.e. anticipating future and planning accordingly, to organize i.e. developing and harnessing institutional resources both human as well as material, to command i.e.to keep the system of order in the institution, to co-ordinate i.e. harmonization and alignment of group effort and to control i.e. performing the above activities according to the rules and regulation.
Fayol also gave 14 principles of administration to go with the management namely
Unity of command Division of labour
Unity of direction Centralization
Scalar chain Discipline
Remuneration of employees Spirit de corp
Stability of tenure Authority with responsibility
Subordination of individual interest to general interest
Limitations of Classical Theory
It looks organization on a whole as a machine whose efficiency can be checked only by productivity, the overall approach is too mechanistic. According to this theory employees can be motivated only through the intrinsic way and no attention is given to their social or emotional needs.
Negotiation & Conflict Resolution (Week 4)
Negotiation can be defined as the process through which conflict positions are mutually adjusted to reach to an agreement. It is a problem solving process that is used to resolve a conflict. Earlier the attention of the conflict researchers was solely conflict resolution but now there has been a gradual shift conflict resolution to conflict settlement i.e. negotiation. Negotiation at times is also used as a synonym for conflict resolution. Negotiation process is not passive, it includes commitment. It can be only achieved if both the parties have the desire and ability to reach to a mutual agreement.
Despite the uniqueness of different problems there are few preferred approaches to negotiation. (Volkema, 1995)Let's have a look at these negotiation styles:
Source: Adapted from Roger J. Volkema ( 1995)
Collaborating Style- It includes exploring mutual interest in order to satisfy everyone's need. Through collaboration win -win situations are achieved. This style brings the issue into open and discussing them and finding solutions in such a way in such a way that makes both the parties look as winners.
Compromise Style-This style is basically partial win and partial loose proposition wherein you get some of what you desire but not everything. This tactic basically comprises of managing the differences between the parties by giving up something for something in exchange.
Avoiding Style- Negotiators exhibiting this style are passive; prefer to avoid conflict and the parties in dispute. This style is low in both assertiveness as well as cooperativeness.
Competing Style- Negotiators that exhibit this style pursue their own needs and try to impose their views on the other party; they are high in confidence and self assertiveness. Such style is basically concerned with I win-U loose. This style is high on assertiveness and low on cooperativeness.
Accommodation Style-Negotiators who follow accommodating style choose relationship over conflict. According to such negotiators the way of winning over other people is to give them what they want. Such negotiators are high on cooperativeness but are low on assertiveness.
The way we negotiate reflects our personality and how much can we approach others. One should design the negotiation strategy keeping in mind his personality and style and also the counterparties needs and objectives.
Mediation (Week 5)
While in my Conflict Management classes I came across a new term called Mediation. However subconsciously I (in fact every one of us) have been through the process of mediation several time in my life, but studying it formally gave me an insight to the topic.
In earlier centuries people used to resolve conflicts by the use of power, the one with the greater power would win, but however with the development people realised power was not the best way to resolve conflicts and hence different conflict resolution tools were formulated, mediation being the one of them. Mediation is a conflict resolution tool which can be defined as facilitated negotiation (Stitt, 2006) .It can be further explained as a process wherein a mediator (impartial) would facilitate the dialogue between the parties those in dispute in order for them to come to a solution. According to me mediation is one of the best ways to solve a dispute, as it allows you to come to harmony by understanding and negotiating each other's demands. It's the most recognized Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).Let's have a look at the various steps involved in the process. According to Administrative Appeals Tribunal these are the following steps:
Preparation and Mediator's opening Statement- It's basically to make everyone familiar with the role of the mediator participant, mediation process and the rules used in it.
Party's statement and Mediator Interpretation-Each party comes up with its own perspective. These statements recorded by the mediator for the future reference and parties are assured that their concerns have been heard. This step helps the parties in dispute to listen to each other's point of view.
Agenda Setting-The major issues are listed for more effective negotiation and mutual problem solving.
Joint Exploratory Discussions-In this step the mediator encourages the parties to discuss the issues listed in above stage. Direct communication among the parties is facilitated for further clarification and understanding of each other's need.
Private Meeting-Mediator provides the parties with an opportunity to talk to the mediator in personal and express opinions and give information in person. This step also helps parties to generate options for negotiation.
Joint Negotiation-A stage for joint problem solving is provided here by exploring and looking for possible agreements followed by private meeting or joint session where necessary.
Final Session-Finally the parties meet together in the presence of mediator and look out for negotiation. . Both parties are given equal time to voice their concerns, opinions and feelings. Then based on the issues raised the mediator proposes an agenda and encourages both parties to answer each other question. At the same time mediator analyse and summarise what is being said, acknowledge differences while at the same time looking for a common ground.
After that the mediator helps the parties to create and analyse options by highlighting the offers and problem solving. Once an agreement has been reached mediation agreement can be drawn up and signed by all parties
Mediation let the parties have economical, private and expeditious resolution to their problem. The process encourages the participation of both the parties in finding the solution. The outcome of the mediation is always in the control of the parties. The best thing about this process is that gives more satisfaction to the parties, then going to the court where they have no choice but to accept the judgement.
Mediation is a voluntary process, any party can back out any time and also not every problem come to a solution by this process.
I think Conflict Management as a subject is very significant component in the Human Resource study, because where it says 'HUMAN', conflict follows it. So there can't be any Human Resource Management if there is no Conflict Management. In the starting of the course I was not clear about the connection between Conflict Management and Human Resource Management, But then while studying this subject I gradually learnt that Conflict is bound to occur where there are people, i.e. the organisation, and as HR students to manage people we have to manage conflicts between them.
Conflict is a part of one's integral life. We experience conflicts in our daily life. This subject helped me gain a lot of things and has taught me various concepts that I can use in my personal and most importantly in my professional life to solve conflict like mediation and negotiation. Studying this subject has given me an insight and confidence to handle conflicts in a much more matured way. I was lucky to have Jason as my teacher, he was more of a guide friend to the students in the class, and the best thing about his sessions were the freedom of expression we were offered, which allowed everyone including me to express and share different experiences with each other and learn from them, it was very interactive and creative working in groups and sharing knowledge.
I being a fresher never had a clue about conflict management and the scenario of conflicts in an organization, but I have learned a lot through group work and real life case studies .Every lecture with Jason was a new experience for me and learnt that no matter what, conflict can't be avoided, but can be resolved smoothly, If it is not managed properly then it will result in time and resource wastage for an organisation, But when managed properly and in a right manner, then it can be beneficial and can be turned in to a positive thing for the organisation.
I believe that all the learning's and different experiences from this subject will help me in my professional career. High quality of teaching, support given by the faculty and the resources provided made it easy for me to understand different concepts in this subject such as negotiation, coaching, mediation, source and stages of conflicts etc, and most importantly this subject has taught me to be patient and take matured decisions in difficult situation which will not only benefit my professional but my personal life too.
In the end I would like to say, that this subject has taught me a lot and it was a great learning experience for me throughout, and I'm thankful to Jason for being a wonderful guide.
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