Human Resources as a Strategic Partner in an Organization

The general scenario in most companies is as follows. HR management teams have well-developed visions of their departments, their roles and responsibilities. But, the senior management is generally skeptical of HR’s role in the firm’s success. They generally consider HR to just be another necessary appendage but not something that can contribute to the success of the company. Even if the senior management does believe that human capital is their most prized possession and asset, they cannot understand how the HR team can make this belief come alive.

There is one reason for all of this. Human capital is an intangible asset and HR’s influence on firm performance is difficult to measure. The standard elements of a firm’s resource architecture that are measured include total compensation, employee turnover, cost per hire, percentage of employees that undergo performance appraisals and percentage employee satisfaction. The question to be asked is: Are these the measures crucial to implementing the firm’s strategy? This is clearly not the case. Interesting attributes would include a committed workforce, competency development programs, etc. But, it is very difficult to imagine measures for these quantities. Hence, in the current state of HR there is a clear rift between what is measured and what needs to be measured.

The role of HR is no more just administrative. It has a much broader, connected and strategic role to play. But, these statements must be substantiated. The reasons why HR must be considered as a strategic asset must be highlighted. A strategic asset is something difficult to trade or imitate.… Read the rest

The Strategic Role of HR

As people become the key competitive advantage in any industry, the human resource (HR) development function will and should play a more strategic role. It should go beyond its mere administrative support function to operations and front line departments. Whether or not company views HR strategically may decide whether market share, sales, or profits would increase or not. An effective HR strategy becomes equally decisive as the company‘s marketing strategy.

Technology too is changing HR roles. As industries, specifically the services sector, and the way they compete become knowledge-based, HR performance indicators will shift from manpower and man-hours supplied to brainpower and brain hours delivered. The key result areas in people management will also shift from production and quantity to productivity and quality. Capability, measured in employee ideas generated and implemented, and productivity gained, will be more important than capacity, measured in man-hours available, man-hours lost, absenteeism, etc.

The current HR function is very much configured like the company‘s purchasing department. People, like parts and supplies, are requisitioned by user departments based on depletion and growth rates of their operations. Both resources are screened for quality control and cost or budget constraints. The only slight difference is that unlike purchased parts, people are trained or prepared before they are sent to the requisitioning parties which may train them further before actual deployment or usage. HR is also involved in the replacement, termination and retirement process of unusable people assets, much like the handling of depreciated equipment. In short, most HR systems exist only for replenishment and maintenance of a resource called people.… Read the rest

HR Scorecard: A Balanced Scorecard for HR

The new economic paradigm is characterized by speed, innovation, quality and customer satisfaction. The essence of the competitive advantage has shifted from tangible assets to intangible ones. The focus is now on human capital and its effective alignment with the overall strategy of organizations. This is a new age for Human Resources. The entire system of measuring HR‘s contribution to the organization‘s success as well as the architecture of the HR system needs to change to reflect the demands of succeeding in the new economy. The HR scorecard is a measurement as well as an evaluation system for redefining the role of HR as a strategic partner.

Managers often use an HR Scorecard to measure the HR function’s effectiveness and efficiency in producing employee behaviors and thus in achieving the company’s strategic goals. The HR Scorecard is a concise measurement system. It shows the quantitative standards or “metrics” the firm uses to measure HR activities, and to measure the employee behaviors resulting from these activities, and to measure the strategically relevant organizational outcomes of those employee behaviors. In so doing, it highlights, in a concise but comprehensive way, the causal link between the HR activities, and the emergent employee behaviors and the resulting firm wide strategic outcomes and performance.

Brian E.Becker, Mark A. Huselid, David Ulrich in their book titled “The HR Scorecard: Linking People, Strategy, and Performance,”  explain the need for such a measurement system this way:

In our view, the most potent action HR managers can take to ensure their strategic contribution is to develop a measurement system that convincingly showcases HR’s impact on business performance.

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Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors

Edgar Schein, one of the founders in the field in modern organizational psychology, pointed out that, every one of us has a particular orientation towards work. As a result of which, we all approach our work with a set of priority and certain values. This concept is known as ‘Career Anchors’. It represents one’s combination of perceived career competence and includes talents, motives, values and attitudes that give stability and direction to a person’s career. It is regarded as the ‘motivator’ or ‘driver’ of that person. The Career Anchor depicts one’s highest priority needs and the factors of work lives one may not be willing to give up. Many people are not really clear about their need and competencies and make an inappropriate career choice, that lead to dissatisfaction and frustration at work. Knowing their Career Anchor properly, people develop sufficient insight to make intelligent and appropriate career choices.

Importance and Types of Career Anchors

Almost all organisations claim to serve the best interests of employees. In practice, they “manage” their workers careers with the best interest of the organization, not the employees. Very often, people tend to select a wrong career and find it incompatible at workplaces with their true values, resulting in feelings of unrest and discontent and lost in productivity. This necessitates becoming self-reliant, to choose and manage one’s career.

Career Anchors help an individual in conceptualizing his own perceived career. It encompasses one’s core areas of competence, motives, and career values. Very often, this perceived career anchor goes against organisational career plans and employees develop a sense of dissonance or certain incongruity about their career plans.… Read the rest

Outsourcing of Training and Development

Organizations now are using a unique approach to provide training internally by outsourcing their training departments. This they have found is a way that reduces costs improves productivity and relives them from the need of constant upgradation. Handing over the organizations training function over to “experts” in many ways also improves the quality of training. These experts have a lot of advantages; they are constantly upgrading themselves to differentiate themselves from the competition and add value to their clients, by virtue of the multiple clients they serve – they have an upfront feel of the best industry practices; training costs can be tracked more objectively and can help align your training’s with your strategic objectives in a far better manner.

Outsourcing of training and development activities means comprehensive, end-to-end outsourcing—from the management of the training function to the design, delivery and reporting. Training BPO refers to the transfer of management and execution of one or more complete ongoing training and development processes or the entire training function to an external services provider. For many companies, outsourcing employee training and development makes financial as well as business sense.

Outsourcing of training and development functions makes a lot of sense for most organizations. The training function is often a decentralized operation. Most companies are unsure of how much they spend on training across the enterprise, and don’t really know what or how much they need. Of course the process of identification, analysis, design, development, deployment and evaluation varies from group to group, department to department and division to division, even within an organization.… Read the rest

The Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence

The four branch model of emotional intelligence proposed by Salovey and Mayer, that identified four areas of capacities or skills of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.

According to Salovey and Mayer, the four branches of their model are, “arranged from more basic psychological processes to higher, more psychologically integrated processes. For example, the lowest level branch concerns the (relatively) simple abilities of perceiving and expressing emotion. In contrast, the highest level branch concerns the conscious, reflective regulation of emotion” (1997).

Salovey and Mayer add that abilities that “emerge relatively early in development are to the left of a given branch; later developing abilities are to the right.” They also say that, “people high in emotional intelligence are expected to progress more quickly through the abilities designated and to master more of them.”

The following diagram depicts different areas of  four branch model of emotional intelligence.

More specifically, this four branch model defines emotional intelligence as involving the abilities to:

  1. Perceive emotions: The nonverbal reception and facial expressions such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear, were universally recognizable in human beings. The capacity to accurately perceive emotions in the face or voice of others provides a crucial starting point for more advanced understanding of emotions.
  2. Using emotions to facilitate thoughts: This was the capacity of the emotions to guide the cognitive system and promote thinking and help direct thinking toward matters that are truly important.
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