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Summary: Introduction to Human Resource Management
Te gebruiken bij
Auteur(s): Banfield, Paul & Kay, Rebecca
Druk/Jaar van uitgave: 2, 2012
Remarks & Related
Chapter 2 and 6 are missing
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Chapter 1. The Management of Human Resource Management
Managing people is not as easy as it seems. Buckingham and Coffman link the quality and effectiveness of managers, and the performance orientated behaviour of their subordinates, to answers to twelve questions (see p. 5). If the answers are positive, the employee will value his or her manager more likely. Managers are seen as critical to how a person behaves and performs at work. Much of what we need to know about managing people already exists; we need to know where to look and what to look for.
The fundamentals of managing people might not have changed much over time, but the conditions in which people are employed and managed have definitely changed. Today’s managers have to ensure that goods and services are provided profitably and efficiently, while maximizing the productivity of their workforce. This must be done in environments that are rewarding, provide opportunities for personal growth and development, generate commitment to the organization and encourage employees to use their capabilities and potential to the full and in the interests of the organization.
Today’s challenges are influenced by these (contemporary) changes:
- The rise of self-employment and the independent worker: people are more ‘free’ to work or not and have more choice where and for whom to work.
- Changes in the external regulation of employment: management’s freedom to take rational business decisions where these threaten the legitimate interests of employees (especially in areas of race, gender, age discrimination, employment protection, treatment of pregnant women and trade union membership) is decreasing.
- The emergence of new ideas and ways of managing associated with inward investment and the spread of new knowledge: growing influence of Japanese and German companies changed things: the removal of unnecessary and restrictive differences between managers and employees, the harmonization of terms and conditions of employment, the removal of restrictive labour practices and the emphasis on a new culture of pride and investment.
- The challenge to, and replacement of, physical power and manual skills by the power of knowledge, creativity and intellectual capital: this is creating a different kind of labour force, with different requirements and expectations of work and how it will be managed. Knowledge workers work with knowledge, not only their own but also that generated and used by others in ‘communities of practice’ and professional networks.
- The implications of this for the way people are managed extend to the need to align rewards more sensitively with the motivational characteristics of this kind of employee, the nature of supervision and what managing the knowledge worker actually involves, the intrinsic importance of work and work-life balance issues.
- A diversified labour force: new migration patterns are adding to the demographic mix from which the labour force is drawn and these developments affect the need for different employment and working arrangements.
An implication of these changes is that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to HRM is not working.
Discretionary effort is effort or performance that is additional to that which the employee is contractually required to deliver. It is determined by the employee(s) and is the difference between what employees are minimally required to give and what they are capable of giving. Effective managers are those that generate higher levels of discretionary efforts without having to pay for it.
The psychological contract is the unwritten, often unarticulated and not necessarily shared expectations that exist between employees and managers, which influence the relationship between the two parties and particularly the behaviour of employees.
Successful HR managers are those who are able to achieve those objectives that are critical to the successful operation of the organization through:
- Ensuring that the supply of human resources is consistent with the changing levels of demand;
- Pursuing strategies that result in improvements in the efficient use of labour and increased levels of labour productivity;
- Maintaining sufficient levels of control of employee behaviour;
- Generating employee commitment and engagement;
- Developing employees as human beings and as economic resources.
And ensuring that, as far is possible, these fundamental employee objectives are also met:
- To be treated as a human being first and then as an economic resource;
- To be recognized and valued for what they contribute;
- To be allowed to develop as a person and a resource;
- To be treated and rewarded fairly.
In reality, these objectives are not always compatible and they may be in conflict.
McGregor (1960) presented a dichotomy of the assumptions made about people, divided in ‘Theory X’ and ‘Theory Y’. Theory X assumptions are based on a belief that:
- The average human being has an inherent dislike of work and will avoid it if he can;
- Because of their dislike of work, most people cannot be trusted to do a good job, and therefore need to be controlled and closely supervised;
- People generally prefer to be directed, dislike taking on responsibility, will not change much beyond what they already are and desire a high level of security.
Under theory X, managers need to develop working environments and organizational controls that reflect the unreliable and problematic nature of their employees.
Theory Y assumptions are based on a belief that:
- People enjoy work as a natural and necessary part of the human experience;
- Tight control and use of punishments are not the only, or most effective ways to make people work;
- Employees are capable of self-motivation and self-direction, and can, mostly, show a high level of commitment to management and the organization for which they work;
- The average person is capable of learning and changing, and will be prepared to take and exercise responsibility for his or her and others’ actions.
O’Reilly and Pfeffer (2000) argue that, because of Theory X assumptions, many organizations are failing to unlock the hidden value and potential that their employees offer. This hidden value is not scarce or unique, but organizations are not able to access/use it. Besides, Theory X is also a self-fulfilling hypothesis: employees treated as if they are ‘Theory X people’ will act like they are.
Mayo (2001) described in his research a set of beliefs that transformed our understanding about work and what people expect from it:
- Work is a social activity involving people working together in groups and teams;
- The need for security, sense of belonging and recognition is more important for morale and performance than the physical working environment;
- An employee is a person whose attitudes and effectiveness are conditioned by social expectations that exist both within and outside the place of work;
- When employees complain, the complaint may have some basis in fact, but can also be seen as a symptom that reflects changes in their status or sense of self-worth.
In the work of Ouchi (1981), Theory Z can be found. He argues that workers:
- Are capable of demonstrating a strong sense of loyalty;
- Will respond positively to working in teams because they are social animals;
- If trusted to work in a demanding, but not coercive environment, can and will reflect the interests of the organization as well as their own.
Ouchi describes management practices that flow from his Theory Z and emphasizes personal responsibility and accountability, collaborative working, devolved decision-making and harmonized working conditions.
These theories are sets of assumptions that managers hold about their employees, and not real theories. If people are more like X, Y or Z depends on experience at work and managers’ behaviour, and not individual characteristics.
Frost (2003) describes that ‘toxicity’ or emotional pain is a normal by-product of organizational life and that the generation of emotional pain is an inevitable part of ‘doing business’. He says that emotional pain itself is not toxic: what determines whether its long-term effects are positive or negative is how the pain is handled. Harvey (1996) suggests that the reason why so many people conform to or do not challenge what others prescribe is due to their need to remain connected. However, he also believes that people fear the unknown less than they do the known. West (2010) made the following points:
- Relationships are one of the most potent sources of human misery (e.g. dead of a spouse);
- Troubled relationships are the most common presenting problem in psychotherapy;
- Chronic conflict and hostility damage the immune system.
These points have implications for the physical and psychological health of people at work.
Stress is a situation where demands on a person exceed that person’s resources or ability to cope. As figure 1.1 (p. 19) demonstrates, people may suffer from stress because of too little pressure as well as too much. There is a clear link between stress and ill health according to the Stress Management Society (2010). Stress can be dysfunctional and damaging.
An organization has responsibilities to its employees as people, because it will have a beneficial effect on the well being of the organization.
From an economic and business view, people are seen more as productive economic resources, which represent an input to the productive process with a value and a cost. Seen as a commodity, people have no rights as such, but as human beings in employment they enjoy varying degrees of protection. But even this protection is not enough if the demand for goods/services falls: people are removed or displaced from one location to another outsourcing of production of goods and services decreases the amount of people who are employed in (Western) Europe. If people are seen as resources, some people are more important than others because they have different values/contributions to the organization. This provides a rationale for the application of differentiated employment policies. This perspective is called human resource accounting and personnel economics and mostly used in the USA.
According to Mayo (2001), employees have to be seen as intangible assets because:
- They cannot be transacted – i.e. bought and sold at will;
- Their contribution is individual and variable;
- They cannot be valued according to traditional financial principles.
The inability/reluctance of many organizations to value their ‘human assets’ can have important consequences. Managers are unable to develop HR practices that reflect differences in employee performance and contribution, with the implication that the ‘one size fits all’ mindset will continue to be adopted. Secondly, returns on investments in training and development will be difficult to calculate because of managerial inability to measure any changes in employee value. This view has been described as the ‘expense model’ of human resource accounting. It confirms the importance to organizations of finding ways of allocating financial value to employees’ asset value. The paradox is that employees are both people, with human requirements and sensitivities, and economic resources, with differentiated and changing asset values.
Management can be understood as being about clarifying objects, planning and organizing and directing and controlling. According to Clegg et al. (2005), this functional and rational approach to management of Taylor/Fayol/Ford identifies key management activities and responsibilities, and explicitly excludes employees from any meaningful part of what management does. Scientific management (Taylor) involves the application of precise procedures and approaches to the management and control of work and workers: it describes a ‘one best way’ approach to improve labour productivity. Fordism is associated with mass production techniques, extreme forms of division of labour and assembly line techniques, reflecting a Taylorist (Scientific Management) approach to the control of work.
These traditional views may be insufficient to deliver all of the required outcomes now change and increasing complexity of organizations becomes the norm, so new management activities may emerge (e.g. the need to communicate/consult/motivate). Because the workforce becomes better educated and technically equipped to manage, there is less need for people in formally designated management positions: self-management, self-direction and self-control become more important. In the context of rapidly changing environments, the effectiveness of traditional approaches is questioned: managers should not accept one, but several different types of rationality.
Dialectic: the tension that arises between conflicting ideas, interacting forces, or competing interests. The term can also be used to explain the process of reconciling opposing opinions or facts by means of argument and discussion.
Management in the twenty-first century is changing: there will be more self-management, outsourcing will create opportunities, higher skilled jobs will increase employee discretion, managers will develop new ways in which to supervise and delegate work, people will want greater responsibility and more mundane jobs will be transformed to make employment feel more like self-employment (Moynagh and Worsley, Tomorrow Project, 2001). Changes in the nature of work makes traditional ideas of what management involves increasingly inappropriate and reduces the number of managers. Social and technological changes have resulted in much more complex and varied working patterns.
Managing people is, according to Heller (2003), not the primary aim of managers management comes down to three simple words: revenues, costs and quality. Understanding and addressing the needs of people as human beings is critical to their status as productive economic resources and their ability to contribute to these business goals.
O’Reilly and Pfeffer (2003) emphasize the importance of a philosophy of management and assumptions managers make about people. A philosophy is an enduring framework of beliefs, values, and ways of doing things that can exist at the individual and organizational levels. A shared philosophy is a powerful way of creating a common purpose and set of expectations as to how people behave. Collin (2001) describes these philosophies as a framework for action, within which consistency, rigour and a belief that their way is right for them sustains an environment within which the right kinds of people can prosper, grow and outperform competitors. Watson Jr (2003) argued that great organizations owed their success not only to the power of their beliefs, but also to the appeal these beliefs had to their employees. According to him, it is important to get the people that organizations employ to understand and support the values and beliefs espoused by their managers. Buckingham and Elliot (1993) argued that simply processing basic competencies is not a sufficient condition for generating managerial success. Underpinning personal characteristics and how people work is what they describe as a conceptual mindset, which is a perspective on their role and its purpose that is significantly different from their less highly rated colleagues. This mindset is a philosophy of management that is strongly rooted in clear perceptions about, and a real commitment to, the value of good employees and of their contribution to the company.
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