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The importance of HR professionals for modern enterprises

Updated June 7, 2021
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The importance of HR professionals for modern enterprises essay

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Introduction

At present days, one of the main tasks of modern enterprises is the rational use of manpower and the most valuable resource is a human. Modern enterprises with the use of new technologies attach great importance to the scarce professions, in which human resource is the key.

‘People are our most valued asset’ has become a very common but rather overused and trite-sounding phrase. Indeed, historically competitive strategies have not been based on the capabilities of employees but rather labor has been seen as a cost to be minimized, particularly in hard times when downsizing and retrenchment predominate (Cascio 2015; Mellahi and Wilkinson 2010a). But more recently it has been noted that traditional sources of advantage, such as access to capital, protected markets, or proprietary technologies, are declining and organizations need to have the ability to innovate and learn, which puts greater emphasis on human resources (Wilkinson et al 2009b).

Therefore, modern enterprises pay special attention and are surrounded by the care of their staff. A person by nature is emotional and sensitive and needs to be understood from a psychological point of view, also each person is individual. The professional leader understands and takes into account all aspects of his staff: professional skills, psychology, individual qualities and tries to build professional relationships at a high level.

The main goal and challenge of the HR professionals are to be effective and efficient in a successful organization.

History

The Human Resources sphere built on a simple idea by Robert Owen (1771-1858) and Charles Babbage (1791-1871) during the industrial revolution in 18th century Europe. These men came to the conclusion that people were crucial to the success of an organization. They expressed the idea that the welfare of employees led to a perfect job. Without healthy workers, the organization would not survive.
HR emerged as a specific field in the early 20th century, influenced by Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856–1915). Taylor explored what he termed “scientific management” (others later referred to “Taylorism”), striving to improve economic efficiency in manufacturing jobs. He eventually keyed in on one of the principal inputs into the manufacturing process—labor—sparking inquiry into workforce productivity.
C S Myers built the idea of how stimuli, unrelated to financial compensation and working conditions, could yield more productive workers based on the research of Elton Mayo(1880-1949) and others to document through the Hawthorne studies (1924–1932) and others.
Work by Abraham Maslow (1908–1970), Kurt Lewin (1890–1947), Max Weber (1864–1920), Frederick Herzberg (1923–2000), and David McClelland(1917–1998), forming the basis for studies in industrial and organizational psychology, organizational behavior and organizational theory, was interpreted in such a way as to further claims of legitimacy for an applied discipline.

By the time enough theoretical evidence existed to make a business case for strategic workforce management, changes in the business landscape (à la Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller) and in public policy (à la Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal) had transformed the employer-employee relationship, and the discipline became formalized as “industrial and labor relations”.
Human Resources Management (HRM) has been started recognized in the textbook literature specifically in relation to the specialist function which was interchangeably termed ‘personnel’ or ‘human resources’ since mid – 1960’s in the USA and became a fashionable term as an HRM from the mid – 1980’s in the UK and began to replace other terms such as ‘personnel management. In the 1970s Jay R. Galbraith and Daniel A. Nathanson were presented the Star model of Organizational design or a model for the human resources management function that divided the human resources management function into four basic sub-functions. A subsequent review of the human resources management function divided the function into seven parts. The need to deal with the trade unions and the human relation movement has increased the need for competent human resources professionals.

Human Resource Management is a management function concerned with hiring, motivating, and maintaining the workforce in an organization. Human resource management deals with issues related to employees such as hiring, training, development, compensation, motivation, communication, and administration. HRM functions include human resources forecasts for the organization, screening of the prospective employees, recruitment process, evaluation training needs for employees, develop a proper compensation; benefits system and define policies; procedures in accordance with the local law and organizational needs.

According to Armstrong (1997), Human Resource Management can be defined as “a strategic approach to acquiring, developing, managing, motivating and gaining the commitment of the organization’s key resource – the people who work in and for it.”

In 1913 one of the oldest known professional HR associations—the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)—started in England as the Welfare Workers’ Association; it changed its name a decade later to the Institute of Industrial Welfare Workers, and again the next decade to Institute of Labour Management before settling upon its current name in 2000.

For nowadays, the Chartered Institute of Personal Development along with HR practitioners created the professional CIPD map. This map based on HRM development, knowledge and behaviours that sets out the standards HR professionals should follow.

The map consists of eight behaviours which HR professional needs to know, recognize and carry out their activities. Ten professional areas describes what you need to know and what you need to do to be successful as HR professional. Four band of professional competence includes the transitional challenges on each level of band movement and the Core of the Professional map includes the Insights, Strategy & Solutions and Leading HR.

In order to be HR professional you must have understanding of the organization or the company you work for and use this knowledge and insight to develop and adapt strategy and solutions that best meet needs of the organization. These insights, strategy and solutions must be evaluated not only in the present tense but also in the context of the relevance to the organization’s future. A HR professional must always look to the future and assess how the organization is evolving perhaps resulting in its needs changing. For example 1.12.2 of the HR Profession Map states that HR professional must ‘Coach and build capability of managers to handle situations with skills rather than managing the issue for them’. This essential activity from band 2 of the HR Profession Map upholds the concept of HR Professionalism as it encourages HR standards and expectations to be fed through and developed across the organization through training and coaching. However senior managers often: Recognize in themselves the temptation to put short-term management priorities ahead of sustaining positive relationships with the workforce (www.employment-studies.co.uk)

This statement highlights the challenges that can be faced in trying to achieve and maintain HR Professionalism, managers may often caught up in the job or task at hand, HR professionals need to remind them they are working with people and professional standards need to be upheld in order to counteract these type of challenges HR professionals need to know ‘practice and principles for engaging managers and employees in change (1.30.1 HRPM). Organizations must respond to rapidly changing markets, conditions and changes to the law as all these things can affect a business. It is a requirement of a HR Professional, at band 2 level or above, to know how to implement and ensure the workforce are on side and fully aware any such change in order to uphold and maintain the HR Professionalism expected of the organization.

Leading HR:

To get the most out of themselves and others across the organization HR Professionals must lead by example and support, measure and encourage staff to achieve their full potential through professional development as well as constantly developing themselves. The HR Profession map outlines the HR professionals need to ‘apply sound people management practices to build high-performing terms’ (2.4.2 HRPM). This required activity is key to uploading HR Professionalism within any organization as high-performing terms are critical for productivity, performance and achieving results. Note the word ‘build’, it is unlikely that you will have high-performing teams across any organization at all times as they are complex and hard to sustain.

An HR professional will keep reviewing progress within the term and always consider what they could do differently to maintain and improve standards and expectations. People Management systems such as performance appraisals, quality circles, cascade briefings, 360-degree feedback, and internal communications will help you get the best from your employees (www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk). Therefore it is a vital HR professional know ‘methods for managing and evaluating team performance’. (2.21.2 HRMP) Again harking back to the continuous professional development of the organization, employees and HR professionals themselves.

Curious:

A behavior defined in the HR Professional Map that a HR professional needs to carry out their role is to be ‘curious’. The CIPD defines this as ‘future-focused, inquisitive and open-minded; seeks out evolving and innovative ways to add value to the organization ‘. It is essential that any professional keep up to date with the changing needs of the customer, the organization and how changes affect the business as a whole. In order to uphold HR Professionalism and the standards expected from you as a professional it is not enough to ensure that HR policies and processes are in place as it is: Not just about implementing the people management strategy but about being informed and qualified to shape that strategy. (www.hrmagazine.co.uk) Therefore is important for any HR Professional to be ‘curious’, they need to ask questions and as defined in band 2 of the HR Professional Map ‘seek great opportunities to test new ideas or innovations. This could be done by looking at and learning from other organizations: Curiosity is about observing and understanding the world beyond our own small sphere. Taking an interest in what makes others successful and reaching for knowledge beyond our own industry area will help (www.hrmagazine.co.uk).

Skilled influencer:

The HR Professional Map states that another behavior requirement of an HR professional is to be a skilled influencer. The CIPD defines this as demonstrating ‘the ability to influence to gain the necessary commitment and support from the diverse stakeholders in pursuit of organization value’. As discussed above with reference to being ‘curious’ organizations need to commit and prepare for change and evolving trends therefore is it vital that an HR professional has the ability to gain support and confidence when implementing these changes. Within band 2 it is essential that an HR professional ‘takes steps to understand and consider the diverse opinions of involved parties ahead of a proposal’. A change would not be successful if it didn’t have a commitment from management at all levels, if employees don’t see their manager backing the change they unlikely to back change themselves.

Therefore in order to uphold HR Professionalism when implementing any kind of change preparation is key. An HR professional could: Paint a different picture of the current situation and alter employee perceptions, reframing situations so people can look at them in a new way. By framing the business situation, employees can take a step back, understand the need and/or benefit of the change project, and make a mental shift and get behind the change (www.cornellhrreview.org ). To tie all of the above elements together to be an effective and efficient HR professional you must be a ‘thinking performer’ dedicated to continuous learning and professional development while always looking to the future and focusing on making a substantial corporate contribution and delivering results for their organization.

Concentric circles of HR Professionalism.

HR professionals can add value to themselves and their organization through the four concentric circles of HR Professionalism. The first circle is how to manage yourself, in order to manage yourself you must be aware your strengths and weaknesses and work on these through continuous professional development. If you cannot manage yourself how can you manage others? It is imperative to the success of a HR professional to identify weaknesses and work to improve them. For example, use your appraisal as a working document if it is just completed and forgot about then it is unlikely that the outlined improvements will be made. The second circle involves the management of groups or terms, a HR professional should be able to lead and manage a successful team for reasons of productivity. They must gain credibility and respect within the team by setting standards and expectations and managing them.

For example, a HR professional needs to ensure that team members take accountability and ownership of any goals or given tasks. Michael Armstrong’s book ‘How to Be an Even Better Manager’ sums up to this point: Each individual and the team as a whole must know what they have to do and achieve. This is the management of expectations aspect of your role (Armstrong M 2011, p.262). The third circle deals with managing upwards, HR professionals need to communicate and build good relationships with those that are senior to them for reasons of sustaining the business. As with the second circle credibility and respect is required to manage upwards. For example there are occasions when those senior members of the organization may need guidance and advice on how to deal with certain situations beyond their own knowledge or expertise. The fourth circle is managing across the organization where collaboration is the key.

Any successful HR professional should be instrumental in cross-functional teams to ensure everything runs smoothly and as it should throughout the organization. It is a good idea to have regular cross-department meetings to give information, clarity and motivation. Gillian Watson and Kevin Gallagher describe the importance of working together in their book ‘Managing for Results’: The organization’s philosophy, culture and style start at the top. Management’s belief in team working must therefore be genuine and pervade all levels of the organization. Teams works best when they are motivated and work in supportive environment. (Watson, G. and Gallagher, K 2005, p.132) An effective and efficient HR professional will build successful working relationships across all levels and liaise with all departments across the organization.

CPD – Continuous Professional Development

Continuous Professional Development allows you to manage your own learning and growth. It is a commitment to continually update your skills and knowledge in order to maintain and develop your professional competency and standards allowing you to achieve and maximize your full potential. In simple terms, it is about where you want to be and how you plan get there. It is important to note that CPD is an ongoing cycle. Self-assessment allows you to highlight gaps and weaknesses therefore giving you focus on what you have to do improve professionally.

For my own development, I have undertaken a self-assessment against the CIPD Membership Criteria in order to identify development options for my CPD. The CIPD Associate Membership Criteria outlines what is expected of a HR professional, at present in my career I only meet around fifty percent of the criteria, mainly due to the fact my current role is not within HR but simply has HR elements within the job requirements. This has therefore highlighted several areas and options for professional development.

I have a very strong aural learning preference therefore I learn best from lectures, group discussions and talking things through. This learning preference includes talking out loud as well as talking to oneself. Often people with this preference want to sort things out by speaking first, rather than sorting out their ideas and then speaking. With this in mind, I am going to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of three development options and their fit with my learning style and relevance to my career aspirations of becoming an HR professional. My first development option is to successfully complete the CIPD Level 5 Intermediate Certificate in Human Resources Management. This self-development activity is a form of job training as it is undertaken as part-time study at the South West College, Dungannon.

This activity has many advantages, the content is delivered in my preferred learning style, and completion of the course will fill in many of the gaps highlighted in my self-assessment against the CIPD Associate Member Criteria and give me a good foundation to move forward in my career aspiration of becoming an HR professional. Disadvantages of this option include the personal expense and the fact that it is on top of full-time work commitments and therefore may be hard to immerse myself in studying. My second development option is to improve my interviewing skills. As part of my role as Store Manager of the Perfume Shop, I am responsible for the recruitment of any new members of the team. Although there are guidelines in place I have never had any formal interview training.

To develop my skills in this area would not only benefit the organization but also myself and the future employees as well as contributing to my aspiration of becoming an HR professional. The learning and development department and recruitment department could support me with this option from simple phone calls for advice to any available workshops or training days, both of which are within my preferred aural learning style. A limitation of this option is the cost of any off-the-job training and the quality can often depend on the abilities of the trainer.
My third development option is to improve my coaching skills. Coaching leads to improved performance, motivation and job satisfaction, therefore, provides business results. Although it is unlikely that I will have the time or resources within my role to become an expert my intention is to improve not only my skill set but that of my team by adopting a coaching approach. Again I can gain support from the learning and development department. Throughout the period of completing this course, I will complete a personal development plan including identified self-development needs and objectives including the achievement of my CIPD qualification. In a clear understanding of what this requires. By using the HR Profession Map as a framework and set of standards of work by and having in place a Continuous Professional Development you will undoubtedly uphold HR Professionalism throughout your career as an HR professional.

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