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A report to examine the issues from a strategic and operational human resource perspective in a local authority, which has been required to undertake a change management programme under a government reform initiative.
"In today's fast-paced economy competition is an issue of service and the best products. Human resource is a knowledge skills, is creative, abilities and aptitude obtained in the population the 1st definition, of human resource management is that it is the process of managing people, in organisations in a structured and through manner.
Oliver Sheldon states "no industry can be rendered efficient so long as the basic facts remain unrecognized that it is principally human. It is not a mass of machines and technical process, but a body of men â€¦"
The people management policies and practices which are usually termed HRM originated in manufacturing industries in the USA during the late 1970s' and early 19180s'.
A number of factors led to this new management thinking, principally loss of faith in the traditional approach to mass production.
Japanese work organisation sand manufacturing processes, the impact of new technology on work practices (Galle et al, 1998). The recent developments of hyper-competition in addition with the shorter lifecycles of the products have reduced the degree to which much special knowledge can provide companies with sustained competitive advantage. However, this all have contributed to the growth of learning and development. People in organisations have changed with the developments; the focus now has been shifting from training to learning.
Managing Employee's Knowledge:
'Knowledge Management is the systematic process of finding, selecting, distilling and presenting information in a way that improves employee's comprehension and insight to solve problems for a business' (Petouh of, 2005). Managing knowledge is not a technology or a rocket science. It is comprised of people, process and technology, each of which are required to support each other to maintain the balance.
Knowledge is the tactic information which is used to solve or resolve customer's issues and questions. Therefore, its effective management will enable the organisation to provide information and knowledge to the local community in an efficient and effective fashion and will contribute to sustained competitive advantage as knowledge management holds 80 percent of the brain trust's holdings.
An example of a contact centre: A poor knowledge management system greatly impacts the effectiveness and ¬nancial success of a contact centre. For instance, in terms of transforming customer contacts into relationships, which can be a signi¬cant competitive differentiator, both tacit and explicit information is required. Without it, employees will lack product knowledge in a changing environment and will take longer to answer questions, will not appear to be knowledgeable or helpful and will feel dis-satis¬ed about their jobs.
Incompetent service will produce angry customers and will increase the call handling time, this in turn will increase the ¬nancial burden of the contact centre while reducing its ability to be a pro¬t centre versus a cost centre.
"Deep down, we are all learners. No one has to teach an infant to learn. In fact, no one has to teach infants anything. They are intrinsically inquisitive, masterful learners who learn to walk, speak. Leaning organisations are possible because not only is it our nature to learn but we love to learn" (Senge, 1990:4).
There are different methods of learning but the form of delivery depends upon number of factors like learner's qualifications, work experience, previous experience and previous exposure to learning. Even the subject area of learning plays an important role in deciding the learning methodology. The major two of those methods are: CPD and lifelong learning.
Different learners learn more effectively using different methods; it is important to be aware of the available learning methods. To make the learning more active and participative; different techniques must be blended together. It is most likely that every learning event will adopt a combination of learning methods.
People acquire knowledge when they observe or participate in a situation and also while observing own actions, and the actions of others which affect the outcome. For example, a manager could try various methods to convince people to carry out decisions, including being dictatorial, explaining the reasons for decisions, or encouraging people to participate in making the decisions. A company could put a number of products on the market and see which ones sell. This trial and error learning is valuable, but at the same time it is too slow and costly. The individual will make many costly mistakes in the process. In addition, the individual will a longer time to develop a sense in taking the decision of which factors to look at, which to ignore, and what the relationships are between key factors. Furthermore, the individual might never think of some of the best solutions without any assistance of experts or seniors. In each of these cases, the assistance of an expert who gathered experience and developed judgment in that area could greatly facilitate learning.
As per my analysis, the most appropriate learning method for our organisation would be CPD (continuous professional development), whereby individuals will take responsibility for their own continuous learning and knowledge acquisition. This focuses on personal competence in employment which in turn ensures that the employees are upgraded with the new concept, laws, specific skills, knowledge and understanding. This will not only improve the employees' performance but will also enhance their career progression.
Another major problem which our organisation currently faces is its failure to meet all its organisational performance targets. This is happening because still the performance in our organisation is not being managed on the right note.
Performance management is a strategic approach that will improve the overall effectiveness of our organisation by improving the capability, competence and performance of individuals and teams. By doing this we can establish a culture of high performance within the organisation. Not only these even individual objectives can be aligned with the organisational one and also employees can be rewarded appropriately for their contribution.
Performance Management System (PMS):
A clearly structured performance management system can improve organisational performance. The figure below illustrates how our organisation can develop and implement a personal management system. Corporate goals and objectives should be communicated downwards to the department level where the interpretation is done at the operational level. When the line managers and individuals will reach to an agreement, this is the time when the action plan has to be drawn up to boost the performance. It is necessary to monitor the performance and give feedback on a regular basis. The feedback provides an assessment opportunity of the actual performance against the expected performance. It will also identify the gaps in the performance or will also guide whether we need any further developments or not.
Figure 1: The Performance Management Cycle
Integration with other processes, development and reward can also be achieved. This will allow our organisational goals to be translated into operational goals which will identify the levels of performance needed by the team as well as individual to achieve the operational requirements. This will provide an opportunity for a two way feedback between management, individuals and teams. In addition, a base for improvement of performance or its adjustment as per the requirement will also be created.
Developing and implementing an effective PMS requires the following:
A clear alignment between the corporate strategy and all other strategies.
Engagement of all employees with senior management, which plays an important role in cascading objectives downwards so that they become performance indicators.
A review, or appraisal, process, providing informative feedback on a regular basis.
Models of Organisational Change:
A very important question arises here that why do we need to understand the models of organisational change. The answer is to assess the change at a macro level. Models can reveal the driving forces of the change, how change will occur and what will be its outcome.
There are six major categories of change models and theories. Life-cycle, evolutionary, teleological, political, social- cognition and cultural.
The life- cycle, evolutionary and teleological models have all been criticised for emphasising on stages like growth or phases of strategy and linearity. The political and social cognition theories have been hyped for their sophistication in illustrating complexity and in showing the regressive phases of change, ambiguity, struggle and something irrationality. Political and social- cognition model generally ignore the environment or system and have limited ability to predict change. Cultural models embrace a more systemic view and reveal the complications but often provide limited practical advice or tool. Each model appears to suffer from some interpretive weakness and to have some strength in furthering our understanding. It is important to focus on both strengths and weakness of these models.
In my opinion the strongest approach is to combine certain assumptions from various approaches.
Strategic Approach to Human Resource Management (HRM):
As per Armstrong (2006) "Strategic HRM is an approach to making decision on the intensions and plans of the organisation in the shape of policies, programmes and practices concerning the employment relationship, resourcing, learning and development, performance management, reward and employee relations."
Every strategic option considered and adopted by the organisation has a human resource implication. For example, redundancy in an organisation. To reduce the number of employees the organisation needs to consider a range of issues including the number of tiers or employees being redundant voluntarily or by compulsion.
There are many approaches to strategic HRM, but the most recognised one is the high- performance management approach. According to Armstrong (2006), high - performance working involves the development of a number of inter-related processes, which together have an effect on the performance of the organisation. This can be achieved through enhancement of the skills and also by securing the commitment of employees to improve quality, growth, productivity and above all levels of customer satisfaction.
A high performance approach emphasises the importance of performance culture, to create and to maintain, including high commitment and highly involved management. This will contribute to the development of a committed and engaged workforce. Strategic human resource management leads to the formulation and implementation of specific human resource strategies.
The human resource function in its role as a strategic partner plays a significant role in creating systems and processes that help to achieve organisational success. It also acts as a partner to the line managers at each level in devising and implementing strategy. Now even line managers have the roles and responsibilities that lead to the human resource activities which can make a real difference to employees' attitudes and behaviour.
Recent attention to more strategic approach to human resource management has given rise to the idea of human capital management. The term refers to a 'strategic approach to people management that focuses on the issues that are critical to an organisation's success.'(Mullins, 2010)
Human Resource Planning (HRP):
Beardwell et al. (2004) define modern human resource planning as 'the process for identifying an organisation's current and future human resource requirements, developing and implementing plans to meet those requirements and monitoring their overall effectiveness.' This means human resource planning matches the human resource needs to the business needs in the short as well as long term from a quantitative and qualitative perspective.
Process of HRP:
Hard and soft human resource planning:
Hard human resource planning is based on a quantitative analysis while the soft human resource planning is related only with the available employees. Hard HRP ensures that the right number and type of people are available when required but the soft HRP needs the current employees with an appropriate attitude, motivation and commitment to the organisation.
Human resource planning has three steps:
Demand forecasting: In this the demand is forecasted across the organisation and the data is analysed to establish the correct number of employees who would be needed.
Supply forecasting: Forecasting the levels of the supply of human resources with the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience to do the job.
Reconciliation of the demand and supply that means drawing up plans to match the supply and demand.
While analysing the forecasting human resource demand data, organisation should consider the details of any existing plans as well as those that might occur in future.
Recruitment and selection:
Recruitment and selection may be regarded as separate activities. However, Beardwell et al. (2004) define recruitment and selection as integrated activities in which the recruitment and selection process is concerned with identifying, attracting and choosing suitable people to meet an organisation's human resource requirements."
It is essential for an organisation to have the right people in the right job at the right time. To achieve this organisation can either recruit internally or they can recruit someone new.
There are other factors as well which organisation need to consider while recruiting and selecting staff. One is the cost of recruiting individuals and the other one is to link the process with other human resource processes.
Ineffective recruitment and selection procedure may lead to number of issues related with performance management, learning and development, motivation, and ultimately, retention. Thus, when recruiting and selecting staff, we need to take into account the following issues:
Recruitment and selection must consider the overall human resource plan. It cannot be considered in isolation. Moreover, it also needs to consider the prospective employee's ability to adapt, be flexible, its potential for development and promotion within the organisation.
The prospective employee's ability to work in a team and to fit into the culture and social structure of the organisation.
Most importantly, the recruitment process must comply with legal requirements.
A factor that sets an organisation apart from its competitors whether it is in services or products, in services or products, in the private or public sector is its employees. When we use human resources as a competitive advantage it means we are analysing the factors that are essential for the organisation's long term success. Appropriate areas to review include: teams, hiring effective employees, promotion strategies, defining competencies and performance measures, training and development programs for current job and preparation for future positions, reward and recognition systems, motivation and retention, employee perceptions and customer perception of the organisation and employees. "There are many organisations where the emphasis on the human resources has made a difference in the performance of the organisation. These organisations acknowledge the significance of their employees in making a difference in company and providing the essential ingredient for its company and providing the essential ingredient for its competitive advantage. Successful organisations do not isolate their "people programs". They consider them an integral part of their business strategy" (Finnegan 1998).
For achieving a competitive advantage through the employees the following recommendations can be made:
"The management should trust their workers and give them responsible and challenging assignments, workers in return will respond with high motivation, high commitment and high performance" (Guest 1987).
Making effective and wide communication system and easy procedures for employees to raise grievances and receive reply.
The organisation effectiveness can be increased by linking its strategy to individual objectives. This means to improve the match between what the organisation requires of its employees and what they require of it.
High commitment, trust and motivation have to be maintained, particularly with that of the management policies and practice is perceived to be high quality by lower grand employees.
HR should be integrated to strategic plans.
Organisational commitment, combined with job commitment will result in high employee satisfaction, high performance, longer tenure and a willingness to accept change.