The focus of hrd

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"The focus of HRD is on action, on developing the capacity to act, on generating credibility through action, and on influencing and working with others in situations loaded with emotion and politics".

This statement reflects an image of how the HRD functions through several actions implemented to achieve success in organizations. However, it shows only one side of the HRD focus, while ignoring and underestimating its strategic role which has the major effect in improving organisational performance. HRD is not just an action that should be taken to fix a certain problem at once. It is an end-less process that engages all organizational functions to meet the developmental needs required to maintain sustainability and competitive advantage.

Currently, HRD professionals know the requirements of any business environment, understand the theory and practice of HRD, and able to coordinate performance management activities (Gilley & Maycunich, 2003). The provision and quality of their outcomes at work are acknowledged as key factors in adapting with any kind of organizational change (Gibbs, 2008). For example, knowledge sharing, continuous learning, and developing unique competencies are important activities to obtain competitive advantage through human capital (Luoma, 2000). Hence, HRD tended to focus on results-driven programs more than activity-based ones, to be able to respond strategically to various organizational problems or breakdowns (Gilley & Maycunich, 2003).

Furthermore, as HRD professionals are primarily responsible for creating learning cultures that foster continues employee learning (Gilley & Maycunich, 2003), they develop activities that encourage individuals at every level to be self-directed, taking into consideration that learning takes place through collective creation of meaning, employee action, and development of new knowledge (Gubbins & Garavan, 2009). In this way, HRD is moving away from its traditional scope where learning is more considered than just training.

Organizations need to create an environment that is supportive of continuous growth and development to face all future challenges. To do that, they have to build partnership with the HRD, allowing them to provide more significant and valuable contributions. This in turn will build the HRD credibility at all levels of the organisation.


Gibb, S. (2008). Human Resource Development: Process Practices and Perspectives (2nd ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Gilley, J. W., & Maycunich Gilley, A. (2003). Strategically integrated HRD : Six transformational roles in creating results driven programs. Cambridge, MA: Perseus

Gubbin, C., & Garavan, T. A. (2009). Understanding the HRD role in MNCs: The imperatives of social capital and networking. Human Resource Development Review, 8(2), 245-275

Luoma, M. (2000). Developing people for business success: capability-driven HRD in practice. Management Decision, 38(3), 145-153


Many employers supply their employees with specific training programs for the purpose of enabling them to perform their job. Training is also being used as a tool for overcoming performance gaps. It has been found that in order for a training program to be effective it should include both formal and informal teaching (Russell, 2006). Abstract teaching (listening to a lecture) should be incorporated with concrete practice (actual performance). This can be attributed to the fact that in general, adult learners retain less of what they hear, read, or see and more of what they practice (Hannum, 2009). Concrete practice such as on the job training (OJT), is often considered by employees to be more useful than knowledge gained through a training program (Honey and Mercer, 2009; Jackie and Sara, 2007).

OJT is basically a professional activity which takes place outside of the class room and mainly on production lines, labs and such (Honey and Mercer, 2009). Yet, In order for employees to be motivated and engaged in the learning program, the HRD team involvement is very much needed.

A training program which an employee does not consider to be relevant to his need is likely to be ineffective and even cause frustration. In order to positively influence employees' performance through action based training programs; first the employees learning needs should be assessed. The HRD team is the organizational function which has the ability to explore and define those needs. When there is a clear understanding of employees learning needs, correct actions can take place, time and money can be invested efficiently and employee frustration can be avoided (Gibb, 2008) . This is where HRD activity can create value and therefore establish its credibility in the organization.

The author discussed several issues related to adult learning. She highlighted the importance of incorporating practice in the training process as it is an effective means of keeping the knowledge retained for a long time. In addition, she indicated that training programs should be action-based to ensure progress and development in employees' performance. In my view, these issues show only the traditional side of the HRD coin, which limits its focus on the performance gaps of the individual level. I agree that these considerations are necessary and valid; however, they do not lead to major improvements in the organizational performance. Gilley et al (2002) propose that HRD professionals operating in an action-based HRD function are considered transactional professionals because they do not establish strategic links between employees' capacities and organizational objectives. Conversely, the HRD function, which focuses more on results-based and strategically integrated HRD strategies aims to improve individual, team, and more importantly organizational performance and effectiveness (Wognum & Mulder, 1999). Thus, the roles of HRD professionals are expanding, changing, and evolving in response to external environmental and internal organizational factors.

The HRD professional needs knowledge and competency on social networking to develop macro-level systems and strategies for organizational knowledge management, developing a learning organization and facilitating organizational and collective learning, facilitating change, developing and managing employee and organizational social capital, and effectively targeting HRD interventions (Storberg & Gubbins, 2007). Thus, there role became far away from implementing these transactional activities they used to take before.


Gilley, J. W., Maycunich, A., & Quatro, S. A. (2002). Comparing the roles, responsibilities, and activities of transactional versus transformational roles in HRD. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 15(4), 23-44.

Storberg, J., & Gubbins, C. (2007). Social networks to understand and “Do” HRD. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 9, 291-310.

Wognum, A. A. M., & Mulder, M. M. (1999). Strategic HRD within companies. International Journal of Training and Development, 3, 2-13.