The Human Resource Manager

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Definitions of HR Manager

Resource, in its organizational context, is defined as ‘anything that could be thought of as a strength or weakness of a given firm' including tangible and intangible assets (Wernerfelt, 1984: 172). There are three main organizational resources: human resources, financial resources and technological resources. The term human resource management has been subject to considerable scrutiny and its philosophy and character has been the focus of continuous debate, and a widely accepted definition does not exist, however, below are some definitions of HRM from its early years to date which can be useful in capturing a glimpse of its philosophy and use.

The purpose of HR Manager is to ensure that the employees of an organization are used in such a way that the employer obtains the greatest possible benefit from their abilities and the employees obtain both material and psychological rewards from their work (Graham, 1978).

HR Manager has a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques.(Storey 1995: 5).

HR Manager Skill focuses on employee training, development, commitment and participation. It is used to define HR functions aimed to develop motivation, quality and commitment of employees. He also concentrates mostly on strategy where human resources are used to achieve organizational goals. It is also associated with cost control and head count strategies, especially in business processes like downsizing, lowering the wages, shortening comfort breaks, etc. (Beardwell and Claydon, 2007).

There are 2 case studies presented in this assignment. The first case discusses about a Managing Director of a commercial aviation carrier and his take on the economic downturn and spread of SARS which has affected aviation industry. The second case studies involve around a conversation of 2 University professors regarding a colleague's promotion to Vice-Chancellor position. The Managing Director for Rift Airlines has taken drastic measures to overcome the situation while the Dean who is scheduled for promotion has all the right connections and status quo to do so. Both have shown leadership skills in their career and more shall be discussed later on.

HR Manager Competencies

Behaviour, Skills and Knowledge

HR Management is concerned with HR Managers and their behaviour at work. (Woodruffe 1992: 18) provides a list of necessary competencies which includes breadth of awareness, effective communication, decisiveness, team working, effective judgment, drive and persistence, confidence and flexibility.

Probably the most important point is that HR managers need to provide training solutions that are

SMART: Specific / significant, Measurable / meaningful, Attainable / achievable, Realistic / relevant Time framed / timely.

Obviously, whether HR managers need to convince the people that influence the decisions or try to negotiate with managers themselves, timing is the key factor. Simple things such as avoiding the topic when people are having a bad day or under so much pressure can be the make or break point. The best time to introduce the agenda is when managers are likely to be promoted and looking for support or good ideas to impress others.

Kieran Mathieson, the MD for Rift Airlines has shown great commitment to his work, so much so that a senior employee was taken aback by his actions. Kieran is fully aware of the impact of the current crisis to the airline, and with tight competition around he needs to buckle up and take quick productive steps to overcome it. He has good motives, excellent commitment and strong decision making power. Although he is a new MD, he has shown great leadership skills required by a manager with HR skills.

Anthony James, the Dean of Art who is scheduled to take the Vice Chancellor position has been dedicated, has good connection with the government, political connections with the university brokers and he maintains the status quo. No one is threatened by his promotion, and most other professors are in good terms with him.

Case Study 1

Analysis of Rift Airlines' issues

Rift Airlines, a commercial Australian aviation company is right now facing issues with high competition in the aviation field, rocketing oil prices, terrorism, war against Iraq and SARS. They are losing more than 1 million USD per day. Their number of passengers have declined up to an average 40%, but this figure is higher in Asian countries, such as Hong Kong; 60% downturn. They have more employees than necessary and their labour cost is almost 30% of their entire costs. They have 14 000 employees, of which 3000 are excessive. Rift Airlines pays 1.5 billion USD a year for fuel and security costs come up to 250 million USD. They also pay the highest salaries in the aviation industry for pilots and crews. Employees who work with Rift Airlines feel that they have the job of their lives. They get to stay in expensive 5 star hotels and are eligible to many perks. Senior employees are given pay increases and are promoted. Rift is a bureaucratic company and they hold high to their senior employees. A lot of employees are happy working with Rift airlines due to the benefits available. The case study is a meeting analysis among the managers, specifically Finance Manager Jeff Davis, MD Kieran Mathieson and Peter Wiley; Engineering Manager.

Good Practice, Knowledge and Competencies

Kieran, the MD of Rift Airlines has taken drastic and sharp measures to overcome the current crisis. He is portrayed as deeply committed employee to his organisation. Also, he is stated as a highly respected and successful manager. Managers need to accept various points of view and healthy discussions need to be encouraged to solve organisational problems rather than quick fixes to save the day. These are very difficult tasks to achieve as managers are under constant pressure to make quick and effective decisions and do not have time for reflection, discussion and feedback (Morgan, 1986). But as shown in the case study, Kieran is taking the effort to organize a 3 day retreat to discuss the issue offshore. Kieran's communication with his team members is good as it is described in the case study that when he wants to make a point, he turns his head slowly around the room and makes contact with everyone. This communication skills show that he wishes his statement to be resonant to everyone present. Even with the bleak light and crisis they are facing, Rift Airlines is still among the best airline company, their brand name is a good seller, they have excellent safety records and their engineering skills are second to none. Also, Rift has the most highly ranked employees working with them which build a good customer rapport. Furthermore, Kieran has stated that economically Rift Airline dominates the current market. Work wise, employees are represented by 16 unions and therefore they feel safe to work with Rift. Besides that, the HR is pretty much easy with senior employees. Regarding the lashback from Engineering Manager Peter Wiley, and the resignation suggested by MD Kieran, it is not always possible to retain employees in organisations and, sometimes, it is even a good idea to let go of some of the existing staff and introduce a new wave of employees to the organisation to improve innovation and creativity. However, this does not mean that organisations should also let go of the knowledge they have invested to be created and developed over the years. Although employees come and go, knowledge should be kept and developed for the future competitiveness of the organisation.


From HR point of view, Kieren had used authority to apply to his working place environment and has some pretty sharp measures to combat current crisis. He is seen as a savior bus has some lashback as well. He is fair, quick and just when making decisions. The good outcome here is that Jeff the Finance Manager was quick to lay out the issues which Rift were facing and therefore it is only be a matter of time before a constructive plan is laid out. It is stated in the case that a meeting will be organized in the following week where everyone will be able to voice their opinion, ideas and suggestions. No one will be left out and nothing should be hold back. Kieran as said that the 3 day retreat will be to establish their objectives and action plans. He is willing to sweat blood to accomplish this. This shows that he is deeply concern with the good cause of the company. Also, he has promised rewards to employees for excellent performance.

Case Study 2

Analysis of the Vice-Chancellor Position

Two professors are having a discussion over wine. Professor Harry Young and James Wong, Professor of Economics. They are discussing about the vacant position of Vice-Chancellor's job in University College. Harry had received call from Anna Tan from All-Star University who is interested in the position. Legally, the position is available but internally there have been talks as to whom will take the post. It is rumored that Anthony James, Dean of Art will be given the spot.

Good Practice, Knowledge and Competencies

Unaware to Harry, the advertised Vice-Chancellor job has currently been “given” to Dean of Arts-Anthony James. He has good connection with the government, political connections with the university brokers and he maintains the status quo. No one will be threatened by his promotion. Furthermore, one of the selection committee member is a good friend of Anthony, the Dean of Engineering-David Ong. Also, Anthony has been with the university for 20 years and sees the job to fit him so. There is also a second surprise is that David Ong himself will be promoted to Assistant Vice-Chancellor when the current one retires the year after. Both the professors discussing this are happy with Anthony taking up the position as they see him as capable and strong to hold the job. They also agree that he as well political and government connection which means that they university is at advantage here. It is likely that the university may receive good donation from the public in case of a public event. Students may expect political speakers and practice fair election processes. Also, since Anthony is deemed to have connection with university brokers the university will profit generously in terms of good alumni, scholarships and donations for students to further their studies. Since Anthony is said to maintain the status quo of the university, there will be minimal changes to be expected. Therefore no up rise or dissatisfaction from fellow employees or professors, finally there will be a selection committee to finalise the judgment and choose the new Vice Chancellor. This is a good way of measuring the capability of a person, his knowledge and commitment towards the job.


In view of a HR manager, the selection committee should put into consideration all applicants before deciding on the best person to fit the job. The HR manager must not be prejudiced in his decision making. They must also organize an interview for all the applicants. To select the right person, the HR manager must know the job to be filled, otherwise how can accurate match be obtained? Interviews must be conducted to know the personal characteristics, skills, knowledge and qualification relevant and required for the job. In this case study, it is clear that Anthony deserves the job.

If I were a HR manager in this situation, the advise given to the selection committee would be to follow a set of selection policy which highlights Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), quality and source of people, and selection techniques when hiring. They must also put organisational objectives into picture. Panel interviews, group interviews or computer screening can be conducted. In order to find out personal undesirable traits of applicants, aptitude and intelligence tests can be performed. It is also important for HR manager to assign the applicants to health screening.