Interview with a Human Resource Professional
This work is devoted to the analysis of the process of improvement in the field of human resource management (HRM). The relevance of the examined issue and the interview with HRM professional predetermined the choice of the topic. There is a need to understand the importance and the essence of micro revolution, which took place in HRM in recent years. Furthermore, it is crucial to be able to use the new techniques and approaches in the field of HRM. The work reveals the notion and the background of the phenomenon. In addition, the paper discusses opposite points of view regarding the effectiveness of contemporary HRM techniques in relation to the personnel management approaches.
Keywords: human resource management, personnel management, teamwork, micro revolution, technique, staff, corporate management
Micro Revolution in Human Resource Management
On the background of radical change in corporate management in the last 15-20 years, the fact that human resources (HR) have not disappeared completely but have flourished looks amazing. According to Arthur (2012), “the main reason is the improvement in the practice of human resource management from the 80s. The “architectural” model of HR management begins to dominate”. HR manager acts as the architect of personnel potential of the organization, which plays a leading role in developing and implementing a long-term strategy of the corporation.
Nowadays, scientists note some significant differences between the techniques of personnel management used in 20th century and contemporary ones implemented in human resource management (HRM). One can consider this change as a micro revolution in HRM. However, there is no common point of view about these changes among the modern HR managers and scientists. This paper examines a transition from the techniques of personnel management used in the 20th century to the contemporary human resource management approaches and discusses its advantages and disadvantages.
Common Characteristics of Ineffective Personnel Management Practices Used During the 20th Century
One can identify a number of common characteristics of ineffective personnel management practices, which existed in the twentieth century in numerous corporations in developed countries. A wide variety of existing approaches in the management of personnel caused by differences in national, institutional, and organizational contexts led to the absence of professional knowledge and ideology of this management discipline. HR work has traditionally been on the periphery of attention of corporate leaders. HRM specialists served as advisers to the leadership and did not bear direct responsibility for developing and implementing the organization’s strategy, which determined their marginal role. In addition, there was a widespread belief that HRM was an activity, which did not require special training.
Transformation of Personnel Management in Human Resource Management
The micro revolution has transformed the staff management into HRM. This transformation of personnel management has found its expression in the following major trends:
- The relative and absolute increase in the number of employees of personnel services in recent years in developed countries;
- The enhanced status of the profession;
- The increase in the attention to the level of training of HR managers (Pink, 2006).
This shift contributed to the consolidation of functions of personnel management around the “vertical management” reflected in the appearance of the strategic level in the HRM. Management systems focus primarily on the development of human capital. The mission of this system is the implementation of the fundamental objectives of its personnel policy.
Advantages of Use of Contemporary Techniques of Human Resource Management
De Cenzo and Robbins (2004) believe that the staffing policy of the corporation is to provide:
- Organizational integration. In other words, top management and line managers should implement a well-designed and coordinated strategy of HRM;
- High level of responsibility of all employees of the corporation, which involves identification with the basic values of the organization;
- Functional integration, which presupposes the variability of functional tasks, implying the rejection of traditional, rigid distinction between different types of work, high quality of work and results, and working conditions.
According to the study of Torrington, Hall, and Taylor (2004), the transition to a new type of professionalism forms the content of the micro revolution HRM is experiencing currently. A professional network of various configurations that allow, if necessary, to form teams of trans professionals for integrating solutions to various problems becomes an adequate form of professional self-organization.
Conditions for Functioning of Contemporary Human Resource Management Techniques
Torrington et al. (2004) state that the technology of HRM provides a synergistic effect if the corporation complies with the following conditions:
- well-developed system of adaptation to internal and external labor market (individual career planning, training and retraining of personnel, encouraging professional growth, and job rotation);
- a flexible system of organization of work (quality circles and autonomous work groups);
- payment system built on the principles of mainstreaming a personal contribution (including the employees themselves) and the level of professional competence (knowledge and skills, which really captured the workers);
- the maintenance of the fairly high level of participation of individual employees and work groups in the development and management decisions relating to their daily work;
- an operation of the extensive system of organizational communication.
Main Differences between the Human Resource Management and Personnel Management
In contrast to the staff management, HRM shifts its focus from the needs of workers to the needs of the organization in the labor force. Furthermore, the existing personnel potential of the organization influenced the goals of the staff management. On the contrary, the results of the functional analysis of existing and planned jobs determine HRM priorities. Strategic measurement makes personnel policy more active as opposed to passive and reactive programs characteristic of traditional models of personnel management. Line managers are responsible for the implementation of a more active personnel policy. There is a reorientation of HRM to the individual work with the staff.
Therefore, HRM also shifted from the collectivist values dominating in personnel management to individualistic ones. Traditionally, the personnel manager had to strive to save on costs associated with the reproduction of labor power. The new technology of HRM aims at enhancing the effectiveness of this kind of investment, ensuring constant professional growth of employees and improving the quality of working conditions. (Desimone, Werner, & Harris, 2000). If personnel management focuses attention solely on ordinary workers, then HRM transfers its focus to the managerial staff. The competence of managers is a key element of personnel potential of the modern corporation. The new system of personnel management requires a strong and adaptive corporate culture, stimulating an atmosphere of mutual responsibility of the employee and the employer.
Disadvantages of Use of Contemporary Techniques of Human Resource Management Noted by Scholars
It is possible to speak about a certain synthesis of traditional (certainly modernized) and modern approaches. However, absorbing the advantages of different strategies existing in personnel management, HRM technology still cannot solve all the problems the HR manager currently faces (Radjou, Prabhu, & Ahuja, 2012). Thus, critics detect flaws in this advanced technology. Despite the promising statements of HRM supporters, critical analysis of the use of new technology in the field of HRM shows a well-known gap between the ideological and practical implementations. Such elements of HRM as teamwork and individual remuneration, depending on its effectiveness, seem to be incompatible in practice. There are numerous methods of employee involvement borrowed from the arsenal of HRM, including participation in the profits of the company and the transfer of shares to workers. Managers often use these tactics as “soft” forms of work intensification (Jacson, Hitt, & Denisi, 2003). Still, there is no objective evidence of the positive effects of introduced technologies of HRM in the moral and psychological climate in the organization.
In conclusion, the results of the practical application of the technology of HRM seem questionable from a conceptual point of view and ambivalent from moral and psychological perspectives. Nevertheless, the micro revolution in personnel management is gaining momentum in all developed countries in recent years. Moreover, this micro revolution imposes entirely new requirements for the HR manager. Without a doubt, there cannot be one common opinion about a new approach for HRM. However, one can conclude that the implementation of new techniques of contemporary HRM needs observance of certain conditions within the company. In case there is a fulfillment of these conditions, new techniques of HRM will provide the great effect.