Human Resource Management: Key Concepts and Skills

Introduction

I belong to an organization whose business is tourism and travel. Tourism has allowed me to travel and meet peoples of various cultures. Heritage sites, tourist spots, and wonderful places have become familiar to me. Our organization seriously handles human resource management. Our manager says that we are the most valued asset of the organization. Without human resources, there’s no company.

The role of the manager is significant to the attainment of the organization’s goals and objectives. The manager has to maintain a good and effective rapport with his employees. The employees too have to establish good communication with the customers. Meeting the needs and wants of customers is the job of both the manager and employees.

The manager has to focus his knowledge and capabilities on identifying and selecting persons capable of implementing the organization’s plans. S/he should also maintain employee morale and good performance, to nurture customer goodwill and control costs. Motivation is also a part of a manager’s job, for without motivation employees cannot function well. He also should continually check the people in the office and the field for their performance, and execute other HRM functions like job analysis, appraisal, performance standards, and other functions.

Effective management focuses on people. The manager and the workforce must work as a team and as a cohesive force and should be flexible in satisfying the customers’ needs and wants. (Gulati and Oldroyd, 2005, p. 92)

With flexibility, the focus is shifted to human resources. Effective management looks at managing people from many angles by answering questions like: How do employees work effectively? How can they be motivated? How can they work as a team?

This first objective is on managers so that they can deliver the necessary management techniques to the employees. The next line of concentration will be on the people or employees. Both managers and employees have to be prepared, and their preparation stems from the basic knowledge of their jobs and the organization’s objectives. They must be prepared for the multitude of changes that will occur later on as the situation progresses.

The manager is responsible for effective planning. Human resource planning is concerned with identifying resources to the business needs of the organization. It meets human resources both in quantitative and qualitative approach by answering the questions: how many are needed in the organization, and what particular skills and capabilities should the people possess? (Armstrong, 2006, p. 363)

The manager also determines the number and type of employees needed in his team and where the labor supply should come from. S/he must see to it that recruitment, training and development, and assignment of people are all by the organization’s objectives. Existing employees can be trained, developed, redeployed, transferred, or promoted for future skill needs. Recruits should be carefully selected to ensure suitability for future positions.

The organization’s objectives play a critical role in the staffing process. The manager should see to it that recruits meet the qualification standards of the organization. Specification of the qualifications, identification of persons possessing those skills, and moving people into the jobs should be emphasized in the organization’s staffing strategy (Miller, 1984, p. 58).

HRM emphasizes the integration of traditional personnel functions including recruitment and selection and their management towards the strategic goals and objectives of the organization. (Nankervis et al., 2009, p. 2)

Recruitment and Planning

Recruitment includes planning, environmental scanning, and an analysis of organizational objectives, strategies, and policies to ascertain the right quantity and quality of employees when and where necessary. This means forecasting human resources needs to ensure that the organization has qualified people in the job.

Human resource planning is important to the organization’s achieving its strategic goals. It is defined as “the process for ensuring that the human resource requirements of an organization are identified and plans are made for satisfying those requirements”. (Armstrong, 2006, p. 363)

Human resource planning can result in the provision of clear linkages between human resource functions and organizational objectives, effective demands on labor markets, cost-effective recruitment and selection strategies, and systematic and responsive human resource policies and practices in all areas. (Nankerviset al., 2009, p. 9)

The above definition of human resource planning states that the job of the employees in delivering the service or product of the company should be in line with the objective of the organization. In our organization, where we deliver services to tourists around the world, we see to it that people of diverse cultures are brought to places they want to see. This is our job of being tourist guides – to let people enjoy the sceneries and the wonderful sites and to bring people to the destinations of their choice. We discuss this in our planning process while there is time to talk about it in the office.

Before our personnel is sent to other countries, they undergo appropriate training and development. Apart from the need to closely link an organization’s recruitment plan with business strategies, it is also important that the methods chosen to select the best applicants from its attracted labor pool are effectively linked as well.

We conduct our selection techniques by careful planning with the manager and the people in charge of training and development. Our selection techniques are in line with the agreed job design and other recruitment activities that will result in qualified, skilled, and well-motivated employees who will contribute to the fulfillment of the organization’s objectives. (Nankervis et al., 2009, p. 12)

Training and Development

Training and development have to be applied systematically. The organization is viewed as a system and training as a subsystem. We can find the usefulness of training as ingrained in the system through our different readings and in the literature. But I also want to add experiences and real-life situations in which training and development are significant for its success.

Training must include product knowledge and an appreciation of the company, its history, and philosophies. The objective of training and development focuses on the design and implementation of training systems to successfully impact organizational performance. (Smith & Mazin, 2004, p. 65)

A successful training program takes the trainee through the difficult barrier to the final stage when he or she can perform all of the skills at once and can have the ability to think a stage in advance so that the trainee has control of the selling situation.

Another important aspect is to evaluate whether training helped contribute to the goals of the organization utilizing appropriate metrics. Concerning needs assessment, the emphasis is on aligning training systems with the organization’s business strategy and operating constraints.

We conduct training by the goals of tourism and travel, our organization’s specialty. As our organization focuses on tourism, our recruitment targets Tourism graduates from major universities. Sometimes, we go to university campuses where we conduct our recruitment processes by having simple talks with students and motivating them to join the company. Our managers are rewarded through promotion or assignment to the country of their choice.

Methods of training include lectures, films or videos, role-playing, case studies, in-the-field training. The lecture method is useful in giving information and providing a frame of reference to aid the learning process. This should be supported by the use of visual aids, for example, professionally-produced overhead projectors and other Information Technology materials.

Motivation

When people are motivated, they accomplish goals. In the workplace, workers can be very productive when they feel they are a part of a team or part-owner of a business. They feel this sense of belongingness and so they strive for the company’s success. This is one of the many kinds of motivation that affect individual behavior in the workplace.

People always connect work with life’s fulfillment and connect their satisfaction at work with their feelings and satisfaction of life and happiness with their family. Work and life balance suggest a balance between life and what people do. There has to be blending equality that includes work, family, pleasure, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

Theories of motivation include those expounded by Frederick Taylor who is known as the father of scientific management. He defined work in terms of the specified tasks designed for the workers to follow. The workers have no independence and they cannot judge what is right and what is wrong in the workplace. (Luecke & Hall, 2006, p. 18)

Abraham Maslow (1943), who is the originator of the human-need theory, formulated the pyramid theory of need. He arranged it like a pyramid or ladder. Basic needs are at the bottom of the pyramid. As one set is met, the need moves up the ladder to the next. Another is the need for structure, order, law, and limits, and the need for strength in the protector.

The next on the ladder is belongingness and love needs that include the need for recognition, acceptance, and approval of others. Self-esteem needs include how we value ourselves and our love and respect for ourselves and others. We also have the desire to know and to understand. (Maslow, 1943, p. 236)

Self-actualizing needs include those where we place our goals for our career. Management in the organization has to look at how it has met the needs of employees before they can go on and be effective in their job. The need theory is focused on the acquired needs that people learn in the process of acquiring new life experiences over their lifetime. The three major groups of needs that people acquire include achievement, affiliation, and power (Kopelman et al., 2006, p. 233).

Performance Management

Performance is something that an employee contributes to the organization according to his/her capabilities and talents.

Performance management is an HRM function that focuses on improving the performance of employees. It aims to emphasize their capabilities and individual talents that should contribute to the entire performance of the organization. Performance management also aims to provide the means through which the staff can provide better results in such a way that the customers will be benefitted in the end (Armstrong, 2000, p. 1).

Managers are not the only ones accountable for their performance, but the responsibility is shared between managers and team members. The strategy should be to involve everyone in the team, and that everyone is jointly accountable for the results; if something goes wrong, all should be blamed for the fiasco.

Performance management also involves communication between the manager and the employees. Both have the reciprocal need to communicate what needs to be done to establish a clear understanding of the employee’s job function, how the employee can contribute to the success of the organization’s objective, and how to improve the overall job performance.

Performance Appraisal

Appraising individual employees is one aspect of needs assessment. Beaumont (1993, p. 74) argued that “the grounds (i.e. criteria) on which an employee is appraised should reflect the larger competitive strategy of the organization”.

Indeed, it would certainly reflect on the organization’s strategic development. Beaumont (1993) further states that some of the leading advocates of Total Quality Management are highly critical of performance appraisals based on individual employees. Line managers appraise their employees and in turn, they are being appraised by their superiors.

A Workplace Issue

One workplace issue that affected our organization’s strategic goals was the recruitment of personnel who came from certain countries. It created a stir among us ordinary employees, as the issue later grew into more of a cultural issue, or something involving race.

There were two groups with two distinct opinions that had to be resolved; two groups because two managers were of the opposing views. This involved the issue of hiring Asians. One manager opposed it and argued that some knew Asia but were not from that place. But the other manager argued that the branch in that part of the world should have a manager that must come from that place. There was a division among us until the top management decided that it was time race should not be an issue in the age of globalization. We are living in a global village where organizations are composed of peoples of diverse cultures. Racism should be a dead issue.

The controversy in our organization was resolved by examining our staffing policy. Our policy follows the geocentric staffing policy which states that the best and qualified personnel should be appointed and assigned for a particular management job, not based on nationality or race; this means third-country national (TCN). (Harzing, 2004, p. 251)

Conclusion

Human resource management must be a major activity of an organization because it was created to promote and pursue the aims and objectives of the organization. It also aims to have a quality human resource that will sell its products or serve the customers. HRM was not a regular part of management personnel a few decades ago; the job of HRM was performed by personnel management. Now, an organization cannot function well with human resource management. This function and part of the organization identifies the organization itself. If people are not well trained, then that organization is not effective.

References

Armstrong, M., 2006. A handbook of human resource management practice. London: Kogan Page Limited.

Beaumont, P., 1993. Human Resource Management: Key Concepts and Skills. California: Sage Publications.

Gulati, R. and Oldroyd, J., 2005. The quest for customer focus. Harvard Business Review [e-journal], Web.

Harzing, A., 2004. Composing an international staff. In A. Harzing and Ruysseveldt, J. V. (eds.) International human resource management (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Kopelman, R., Prottas, D., Thompson, C., and E. Jahn, 2006. A Multilevel Examination of Work-Life Practices: Is More Always Better? Journal of Managerial Issues, 18(2), p. 232 [e-journal], Web.

Luecke, R. and Hall, B., 2006. Performance management: measure and improve the effectiveness of your employees. United States of America: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

Maslow, A. H., 1943. A theory of human motivation. In F. Goble, Ed., The third force: the psychology of Abraham Maslow, pp. 233-6. United States of America: Zorba Press.

Miller, E., 1984. Strategic staffing. In C. Fombrun, N. Tichy, & M Devanna (Eds.), Strategic human resource management. United States of America: John Wiley & Sons.

Nankervis, A., Compton, R., and Morrissey, B., 2009. Effective recruitment and selection practices (5th ed.). Australia: CCH Australia.

Smith, S. & Mazin, R., 2004. The HR answer book: an indispensable guide for managers and human resources professionals. New York: AMACOM Div. American Management Association.