Approaches To Human Resource And Bringing Change In Organisations
The purpose of the contemporary human resource function in organisations is to identify, develop, and retain employees who create value for the organisation. Historically, modern HR practices are owed to the findings of Hawthorne studies conducted on workers in the plant of the Western Electric Company by Elton Mayo and Fritz Roethlisberger in the 1920s. Though the design of these studies was naïve and findings were never validated, yet these findings highlighted the importance of considering predictors of human performance different from that of machines.
Since then, human resource function in organisations has seen various paradigm shifts. From administration to personnel management to human resource management to the current buzzword of talent management. We have seen make and break of organisations attributed to the quality of their human resource. Institutional performance is subject to its human performance, and identifying the right approach to human resource management is the key to attract, develop and retain high potential resources.
Most organisations fail to adopt an HR approach that is aligned with their organisational design. This happens because they make little conscious effort to figure out the HR structure congruent with the components of overall organisational design. The organisation may figure the HR approach that suits their needs themselves or with the help of consultants. Burton and colleagues propose using a popular diagnostic method for identifying the HR approach that would serve the needs of an organisation. The diagnosis evaluates the eleven organisational design components, including the HR approach on four business models (i.e. strategies) of the organisation. The diagnostic analysis reveals whether the design fits or misfits the overall business model of an organisation, thus providing an explicit guideline, for the design changes.
The evaluation can gauge the congruence of the current HR approach with the overall business model of the organisation. Subsequently, the approach identifies the need for change in the HR approach and the direction of change. For instance, if the business model is market-driven and demands high-value customer service, adopting an administrative HR approach would not work. The tradeoffs between control and outreach would make the administrative approach a misfit for delivering high-value services. That is the reason we see such organisations failing over time.
No matter what system revisions are made, the administrative approach would let these organisations down on the customer services front. This is why some progressive organsations have altogether redesigned their organisational structures from being mechanistic to fluid organisations. This is the only option for remaining competitive and growing further. Similarly, for innovation and creativity-based organisational models, only talent management will create cherished talent.
Identification and selection of the right approach is the first step. We need to follow this with great zeal to engrave this approach into organisational culture and systems. The biggest challenge is the transformation of behaviors all across the organisation. This could be tedious and time-consuming, especially when the gap between actual and desirable behaviors is large. For instance, a public sector organisation someday realizes that its core function is service delivery to the citizens. Historically an administrative unit, it now needs to transform and adopt the human resource management approach for better service delivery. Such a transformation would mean changing many things. Structures, systems, technology, and especially the mindset of employees all across the organisation would need to transform.
If we make a conscious effort, structural changes can be notified with a stroke of pen and systems can be developed by any third party in no time. The trickiest part is “changing the mindset”. Contrary to the historical belief that changing the mindset is difficult, we have many structured and unstructured methods available that at least have the potential to direct behaviors in the right direction. Interestingly, with the advancements in the domains of organisational development and behaviour modification, this job has become easier and meaningful.
All you need is someone at the top, who means business and can bring about change. Equip this executive with an understanding of using structured diagnostics to reveal design fits and misfits. Once we identify the direction of change regarding the HR approach, the next step in the process is to identify behaviour modification needs. We can do this either indigenously or with the help of experts in intervention design. We have seen such transformations happening in so many organisations across the world in recent times, and I wonder why not at least try it at workplaces in Pakistan?