HR management remained and shall always remain 'alive' and tickling the realms of all businesses at any point of time, for people matter. Owing to the mind-boggling breakthroughs in the management concepts and solutions with or without the help of Information technology, achieving the state of inviolability as a special group of persons is no surprise. People management stays on the top of the agenda despite automation and standardization of the various important systems and procedures.
The above is independently of any other influence, be it technology, market environment, changing needs of customers which again are man-made and manipulated to some extent. Hence, the ultimate answer lies in the persons who run the businesses/offices and their management who endeavor to keep their HR portfolio in top gear.
Perspective at individual level
It is assumed that the orientation at the primary level, starts with 'I', and proceeds to 'You', from there to 'He/She' and finally settling down on 'They'. Here we can give as analogy the thought processes of those at the helm of affairs in the organization. As such, any business starts invariably with ‘they’. Let ‘they’ be their customers or the employees who cater to the customers. Therefore, we can safely highlight the indispensability of the latter section (of late they themselves become major customer base in most companies) duly developing as Human Capital. For that matter any idea or enterprise during its execution affects several individuals, be they buyers, sellers, agents, debtors or creditors, involved directly or indirectly; worst still they can be supporters for a cause or target population.
At any point of time, the project involved is bound to require some active support of the external forces comprising individuals within or without, who form the basic human input. Thus the owners of an organization can ill afford to underestimate or undervalue this capital element entwined with the objectives of the concern. In some cases, we find this human factor put on a higher pedestal; more than anything else, despite the objectives first conceived by the entrepreneur were set for the owner’s aggrandizement or exclusive benefit any lone stakeholder.
Tending the Flock
Employees are taken care of by 'HR People' who are but appointed by the owner (including government). A special cadre coming under modern-day designations made the owners or managers double up themselves as HR People with or without the high-sounding HR credentials, secured from the new elitist business schools. Talking of B-Schools in these days of specialization, we can boldly say, increased intake of highly educated and skilled manpower in various departments perforce necessitated increased induction of equally talented HR People, as therefore a subject of study in HR in colleges has gained renewed importance.
This is being emphasized owing to the fact that organizations are establishing their own training institutions for their prospective employees. To get familiarized with industry experience, the students should be tutored on modern lines of businesses as pursued in the industry, probably on the basis of case studies, or hands-on training enabled learning that help them sharpen their problem solving abilities. It goes without saying that organizations save money, time and headache to fish for specialist personnel in hiring exercises. Having said that and coming back to our model organization in the industry, we have now a set of people recruited and it is time for us to take a glance at the much needed strategies to keep this flock in the nest tightly intact, and help the enterprise flourishing. The question that springs up next is how to keep these new 'insiders' in good humor.
We shall take for an instance a group of enterprising persons in an organization. This group was formed just because the thing to be achieved happened to be beyond the capacity of a single person. The objective of the group originally proposed by the initiator must have been very personal, mutual or total; in some cases it can be spiritual too. Whatever is the inspiration in the formation of the enterprise, it is now the baby of the group and so the personal objective of the whole group and should be ideally to stand out and show it to the world as the endeavor of the group and the same should also be the common denominator of similarly placed groups among the several groups under the corporate umbrella. Here it is important for the HR wing to make the identity and objectivity of the group telltale by categorically spelling out explicitly or implicitly in the thinking and actions of the staff.
All this we have talked above is ultimately translated by the HR machinery into the minds of working groups down to the individual members. All said and done, HR management revolves around controlling the temperaments and activities of the members towards the common objectivity and also keeping the group as a ongoing concern. Difficult part In a typical societal situation, we all knew that one is alone, two is company and three is mass; as long the individuals come together and stay for a given period of time. But, when it comes to an organizations, where people hailing from different backgrounds and cultures, specially invited to come together in a new or existing organization, the numbers of two or three or even more employees would definitely form a crowd (In common parlance three is mob; when one is alone and two is company). Here comes our pet HR man and his tools (strategies) of management that transform beautifully the so-called crowd of strangers into the team and with the help of line managers many such teams at the field level are knitted together by the holistic corporate objective into a corporate team of their dream.
Let us elaborate on the psychological aspect of human thinking in a group as well as the members. A group has a separate image independent of the members. The members expire and the group survives as is evidenced in the invention of company as incorporated body having a legal entity and personality and right. The image gets associated with the attributes or activities of members or how they are being felt over the years using the interface, name it customer experience or stakeholders experience. Ultimately the image of a particular line of industry or particular group having diverse interests matter.
The new identity of the group
The empowerment of employees in the business is happening now right from the day of recruitment, whether it is sole proprietary concern or firm of whatever ilk. Employees are made to think alike, in line with the strategy of the business. They are also being trained to woo similarly skilled persons across the street. Swim or sink together is gaining ground among the staff. The labeled solutions developed by the market leaders are getting instilled in all the competitors though they do not buy those costly packages. The need to study HR as a special subject The need to study HRM as a subject would be more evident looking at the solutions it is giving with the latest and innovative management practices.
A look at the following on the ideal agenda of HR strategist gives an insight with regard to the scope and importance of HR to secure the interest of generalist:
To increase the productivity of the organization and through the very product, speak and spread the message of the producers, especially the mission of founders, as the ultimate vision of the group (employees).
To ingest into the psyches of the employees the quality standards expected by the management, either directly through the vibes, verbal or nonverbal embedded in job profiles, logos, induction training talks, Performance measurement systems, rewards/ benefits administration, etc. all in line with the objectives of the unit as well as the organization at macro level.
To cause interplay of human and technical aspects of the units of the organization in the best fit, both between and across, in a harmonious blend, not forgetting the dialogue emitted by the workers through their products with the world at large. The latter aspect is gaining ground in the present days with increasing use of informational technology and e-marketing.
To gauge the pulse of different pressure groups /competitors and environmentalists that shall be basis of short/or long-term HRM strategies and not be sacrosanct on ideological grounds.
To comply with the changes zeroing on the commitment, quality, flexibility and competence, etc. Ironically the best of HRM practices have by themselves become a USP in the present day industry, as after all, the quality and efficacy and effectiveness of policies are sometimes known to depend on a given brand of the company that is concerned with the workforce on emotional plane.
To perpetually prune the mushrooming of hierarchical levels and weed out redundancies that shall be the hallmark of maintenance because modern day organizations can ill-afford to be white elephants (downsizing and outsourcing have become the order of the day).
To motivate employees, groom peer culture and team spirit, evaluate their strengths and negative points, remodel and adjust the components, delegate, multitask and take up other creative and innovative aspects of the organization as these strategies have become vital in modern day businesses.
To turn around skepticism of employees into optimism and faith; management should instill in the employees’ minds participative orientation in the deep stakes of management and develop trust, confidence and openness in their outlook, so that they shoulder willfully the tasks with pride and sense of achievement.
To continuously explore improvement in quality of work life of employees and bind their sense of belonging to the organization and its image.
To check with the legislation locally and internationally for taking steps to be up-to-date and advise the owners, management and employees accordingly in the relevant areas concerned.
To display prominently, through sufficiently and wide and warranted means, the non-commercial benefits that the organization's HR team is going to provide for harmonious living and cohabitation of their employees; these include the races, sexes, colors, regions and other divides within the organization, across the world (if it is an MNC).
To pave way for better communication among employees at various levels and to promote good industrial relations through installation of smoother channels of negotiation and conciliation.
Are they really the owners of our company?
The gamut of the activities and expectations from HR People, not to mention the strategic HR, gives an idea to a lay employee to jump to conclusion that after all the HR People are the de facto owners of the organization. The answer to the above rhetoric is partly 'Yes' and partly 'No'. This is for the simple reason that HR people are not 'Happening' people, nor happenstance people; but they are part of the flock, being only instrumental in balancing if's and but's, to bring in marked and effective changes in employees’ profiles and mindsets for their own sake as well as for the sake of organization in order to make things happen for mutual benefit or sometimes do not happen; of course with the help of some benign manipulation and systematized models, but definitely not with ill-willed manipulation of the basic resources of human capital, being themselves the partners in progress or regeneration.
Where the softer learning curve should end
All said, it is high time the students as well as generalist aspirants had looked at the HR Management learning as a specialist subject, not merely as a subject dealing with a set of laws of the land or structures on the lines of command etc. but more on softer skills in management.
HR has never been more necessary (as of present) - "…Make no mistake: this new agenda for HR is a radical departure from the status quo." - Dave Ulrich