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Developing Human Resources: Strategic Management

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Question:

Identify and explain how the company can adopt a more strategic approach to Human Resource Development, using the HRD Cycle, ensuring you demonstrate how the HRD Cycle could be applied to the company in this scenario.
 
Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the company using an off-the-shelf strategic HRD solution such as the Investors in People standard, and identify problems that might arise during implementation.
 
Identify, explain and analyse the design options available for managing the company’s Human Resource Development function.
 
The structure of the report should be as follows; summary, introduction, body (research, analysis of findings), conclusion, recommendations, references and appendices.

 

Answer:

Introduction

This report critically evaluates theories of developing human resources within the organization. Concerning, it discusses the applications of more strategic approach through the HRD cycle within the company in the given scenario. At the same time, this report also analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the company by applying an off-the-shelf strategic HRD solution and identifies the challenges during its implementation. In addition, it also evaluates the design options that can be helpful to manage the organization’s HRD function.

Use of strategic approach (the HRD Cycle)

From the scenario of Kidsgrove Electronics Ltd, it is determined that company is losing its competitiveness in terms of employees’ performance and high standards of collective performance. Due to increasing business expansion, there is a need for the firm to upgrade skills and knowledge of its employees to maintain the latest developments in design and manufacturing processes with high-quality production. In order to maintain the competitive position, the company can use a more strategic approach by using Human Resource Development (HRD) cycle to enhance the skills and competencies of the employees to provide the quality products as per the market trends (Swart, et al, 2012). The below figure shows the HRD Cycle that can be useful to apply more strategic approach for developing employees' competitiveness:

HRD Cycle

Figure 1: HRD Cycle

The HRD cycle includes four phases in developing HRD interventions that lead to learning and development, career growth opportunities and organizational effectiveness. These phases are described as below:

Identifying learning/HRD needs:

It is essential for the company to identify the learning needs at different levels including strategic, operational and personal level to compete in the market. In order to determine the HRD needs, company requires for conducting the survey over the employees to recognize the common points related to skill gaps and design the HRD programmes accordingly. The main motive behind the recognition of training needs is to develop career opportunities for the employees and contribute to organizational development. Regarding this, behavioural learning theory also suggests that there is a need to conduct HRD programmes for the development of a required behaviour by the employees at the workplace (O'Grady, 2013). Therefore, it is required for the company to provide positive stimuli in the form of training to shape the behaviour of the employees. There may be different learning needs of the employees due to differences in their skill levels and potential. Due to this, it is crucial for the company to determine these learning needs.

In this need assessment, the company needs to analyze HRD needs at four levels such as organizational needs, individual skills, knowledge and attitudes and functional responsibilities and needs of the department. Generally, firms focus on individual skills of the employees that do not provide a better view of the need assessment. The conventional methods to identify the learning needs are surveys through interviews and questionnaires, observations, and focus groups to gather information related to skills gaps in employees. Apart from this, root-cause analysis can be used by the company to identify the HRD needs by recognizing the root cause of the problem identified within the organization or department (Truss, Mankin and Kelliher, 2012). In addition, some other complex methods such as informal feedback, performance appraisals, etc. can also be conducted to get the information related to employees’ performance and skill levels and determine HRD needs.

Designing HRD programmes:

In this, the company can focus on a two-level HRD process including training interventions and work-based activities. In designing of HRD programmes, it is essential for the company to focus on personal aspects of the employees due to their impact on their learning needs and requirements. Similarly, the humanistic theory of learning also holds that personal considerations and emotions play a significant role in learning and have a considerable impact on the adoption of new changes in knowledge state of learners (Wilton, 2010). In this stage of HRD cycle, the company needs to consider learning strategies, learning outcomes, which have to be achieved and the learners.

The below figure shows the process of designing of HRD programmes:

Designing of HRD programmes

Figure 2: Designing of HRD programmes

After analyzing the HRD needs, the company requires for determining clear objectives related to improvement in personal and collective performance as a company with high-quality production. For designing of HRD programmes, an internal expertise or outsourced external training provider is deployed by HR professional. In planning and design in HRD, training provider develops lesson plans and selects the suitable training delivery methods.  The lesson plan helps to determine the actual delivery of the training content including purchasing of training content or designing of training content by the organization (Saks, Haccoun and Belcourt, 2010). It is also essential for the company to frequently update and review the training materials. Finally, a proper schedule needs to be settled with the consideration of the availability of both trainer and participants. In addition, the budgeting is also a significant element of designing of HRD programmes.

Delivering HRD programmes:

This is the third stage of HRD cycle that emphasizes the provision of HRD programme, the level of employees, training providers and methods of HRD programme delivery. In the provision of HRD programme, there is a need to emphasize on training in new technologies to meet the global quality standards and keep advancement in technologies. This training programme is provided to the employees of Kidsgrove Electronics Ltd on the request by the top management. After need assessment, it is determined that there is a need to conduct HRD programme for the personal and professional development of the employees to achieve higher productivity (Pritchard, 2013). At the same time, it is also crucial to ensure the execution of HRD programme for all level of employees with equal levels of training. A theory of equity deals with equity of rights and train and pay irrespective of any attribution or the personality factors. According to this concept, the management would be able to train the people towards the organization if it employs a fair system of HRD in the organization.

Figure 3: Delivery of HRD programme  

Apart from this, it is required for the company to deliver HRD programme to its employees through internal and external training providers or consultants. In last, different delivery methods of HRD programmes such as audio conferencing, virtual reality, etc. can be used to provide training material to the employees. Apart from this, other methods of HRD programme delivery such as problem-based learning, fieldwork analysis, job rotation, mentorship, etc. can also be preferred as on-the-job training methods without disturbing the work schedule and organizational performance at different locations in order to enhance employees’ knowledge and skills (Karve, 2013). At the same time, off-the-job training method such as classroom is used outside the workplace through lectures and instructions that are not suitable for company’s various international locations. In such condition, on-the-job training programmes can be effective to develop the intellectual skills.

Evaluating HRD programmes:

It is the final stage of HRD cycle that helps to measure the reactions of the employees on HRD programmes, the level of learning acquisition, employees' behaviour and knowledge transfer and financial outcomes related to HRD programmes. Reactions can be related to trainer, method of training delivery and interest of training contents (Hill and Jones, 2012). At the same time, the returns on investment on HRD programmes can be measured in terms of their financial returns and benefits.

Evaluation of HRD programme

Figure 4: Evaluation of HRD programme

For this, comparative analysis can be conducted to compare the performance of the employees prior and post of the execution of HRD programme. At the same time, other methods such as interviews with learners, feedback, tests, performance appraisals, observations and self-assessment can be useful to evaluate the effectiveness of HRD programmes.

Strengths and weaknesses of an off-the-shelf strategic HRD solution

An off-the-shelf strategic HRD solution such as the investors in people standard (IIP) is a business improvement tool that is helpful to improve the organizational [performance through its people. There are three models of IIP namely leadership, recruitment and selection and work life balance that can be used to develop organizational people by setting performance benchmark against a recognized standard. One of the strengths of using IIP is to develop strategic understanding about people development that helps to determine proper strategies and policies according to development needs of people (Ranken, 2010). At the same time, IIP is also effective to think about the development of employees in the organization.

Impact of IIP on organizational performance

Figure 5: Impact of IIP on organizational performance

(Source: Bourne, et al, 2008)

Apart from this, it also helps to clarify the link between HRD and organizational performance over a flexible time frame. Additionally, it is also effective to get directions for improving staff management, motivation, satisfaction and access to training. It is inclusive in nature that helps to involve all people in any capacity including consultants, volunteers, part-time, full-time, temporary and permanent. It provides the ability to review the progress at a regular level to make continuous improvements in HRD. In support of this, Human Capital Theory (HCT) also concludes that the investment in human capital is effective for the organizations to achieve greater outputs (Hill and Jones, 2012).

But, off-the-shelf strategic HRD solution such as IIP has some weaknesses such as high-cost, time-consuming and high energy required. During execution of IIP, there might be some problems such as time consumption because it takes time to explain organizational aims and enhance the people participation and contribution in organizational performance and execute the plans and achieve the outcomes (Nickson, 2013). The requirement of high energy might also be a significant problem for the company to execute IIP because there is geographically and culturally diverse workforce as the company will require for changing the organizational culture.

It might be difficult for the company to invest in its human capital due to diversified workforce at geographical level and cultural level. It is because all the employees located at different locations have differences in their cultural background that has a significant influence on their views and attitudes. Due to differences in views and attitudes in the diversified workforce, it may be challenging for the HR managers to execute the HR policies and strategies to enhance their performance level (Mulvie, 2015). On the other hand, the company might face problems related to high cost arise during implementation of IIP because it requires high costs of assessment, training and support to the employees for developing understanding about the ways to achieve the standard.

 

Design options for the management of HRD function

There are several design options such as centralized training, decentralized training, customer model, matrix model that are available for the company to manage the HRD function. Regarding, centralized training design is effective to locate the resources and professionals primarily in one location and make decisions related to HRD programmes from that location. However, the company focuses on decentralized training design due to being located at different locations across the world. But, the use of centralized training design can be beneficial for the company to allocate ownership of training to one organization and removal, variation and duplication in any HRD programme (Delahaye, 2015). Through this, it can be ensured that the skills are adopted across the company and adopt a common set of metrics and scorecards to evaluate the training effectiveness. Apart from this, this training design can be helpful to reduce the cost of HRD and maintain consistency and standardization of training being delivered to enhance the learning of the employees and develop HR effectively. But, it may be difficult for trainers to make adjustments instantly due to the requirement for getting permission from the central authority. Apart from this, it is also challenging for the trainers to provide feedback in centralized training design due to isolation from the employees.

At the same time, customer model can be another design for managing HRD function appropriately. According to this model, HRD department is responsible for HRD needs of one division or function of the company. For example, if the company wants to enhance the productivity of the employees and organizational performance, then there is a need for the HRD department to focus on the fulfilment of skill gap of the production department to enhance the production efficiency of the employees. Matrix model can also be effective for managing the HRD function effectively. In this design option, it is crucial for trainers to report both training manager and manager in the functional department (Mulvie, 2015).  Therefore, the trainer has to fulfil the responsibilities of both a training expert and functional expert. This design is beneficial for the management to ensure that training is linked with the business needs appropriately and develop expertise in trainer regarding particular business function.  But, it can be time-consuming for the trainers to manage both training department and functional department.

On the other hand, the business-embedded model can be another option that can be used by the company to manage HRD function effectively. In this, training is aligned with the business strategy to respond quickly to the customers’ needs and requirements by providing high-quality products. At the same time, off-the-job and on-the-job designs can also be useful for the company to manage the HRD function in desired way. In on-the-job training, the company can provide HRD programmes to develop the knowledge and proficiency of the employees in a practical way, while facing actual working situations. This design is beneficial to learn in a simple way by performing training activities during the job and generate immediate productivity and quick learning. But, this design can create the workload and increase stress affecting the quality of the performance and organizational effectiveness (Brennan, 2013). On the other hand, off-the-job training design is conducted through seminars, lectures and e-learning practices that can disturb the normal working routine of the employees and increase the cost of HRD and financial burden on the organization.

Conclusion

In a conclusive way, it can be stated that HRD as a more effective strategic approach plays a significant role in developing skills and knowledge of the people to make them efficient to produce the improved results within the organization. HRD cycle is executed by identifying the HRD needs, designing, delivering and evaluating HRD programmes. In addition, off-the-shelf strategic HRD solution such as the Investors in People standard is effective for the company to develop proficiency and knowledge of the employees to achieve a specific standard of performance. However, there are some problems such as time consumption, high cost and cultural differences due to the diversified workforce during the execution of such HRD solution. At the same time, there are some design options such as centralized training, business-embedded model, customer model; on-the-job training, off-the-job training designs that may be effective to manage the HRD function.

Recommendations

In order to determine cost effective HRD solution, it is essential for the company to conduct the cost-benefit analysis that could be effective to save time and reduce the cost of human resource development. Ata the same time, it can be beneficial for Kidsgrove Electronics Ltd to conduct diversity management training programs to manage diversified workforce during execution of the HRD solution.  Centralized and business-embedded training design can be useful for the company to better align the business strategy with the HRD objectives and control the issue related to diversity among the employees by developing a common organizational culture for HRD (Amason, 2011).  In addition, on-the-job training programs can also be useful to develop practical knowledge without affecting working schedule and productivity of the employees.

 

References

Amason, A. (2011) Strategic Management: From Theory to Practice. UK: Routledge.

Bourne, et al (2008) The Impact of the Investors in People Standard on People Management Practices and Firm Performance. Available at https://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/dinamic-content/media/CBP/Publications/IIP_Impact_StudyReport_CBP%20080930.pdf (Accessed: 30 March, 2016).

Brennan, B. (2013) Human resource development: managing learning and knowledge capital, Studies in Continuing Education, 35(2), pp.260-262.

Delahaye, B. (2015) Human resource development. UK: Tilde Publishing.

Hill, C. and Jones, G. (2012) Strategic Management Theory: An Integrated Approach. USA: Cengage Learning.

Karve, S. (2013) Planning and Organizing Training Events. USA: American Society for Training and Development.

Mulvie, A. (2015) The Value of Executive Coaching. UK: Routledge.

Nickson, D. (2013) Human Resource Management for Hospitality, Tourism and Events. UK: Routledge.

O'Grady, A. (2013) Lifelong Learning: An introductory guide for Education Studies. UK: Routledge.

Pritchard, A. (2013) Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom. UK: Routledge.

Ranken, W.B. (2010) Employment 2010. UK: NCVO.

Saks, A. M., Haccoun, R. R., and Belcourt, M. (2010) Managing performance through training and development. USA: Cengage Learning.

Swart, J., Mann, C., Brown, S., and Price, A. (2012) Human Resource Development. UK: Routledge.

Truss, C., Mankin, D., and Kelliher, C. (2012) Strategic human resource management. UK: Oxford University Press.

Wilton, N. (2010) An introduction to human resource management. USA: Sage Publications.

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