!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Managing Human Resources -- Where to focus?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Managing Human Resources -- Where to focus?

In human resource management, as in just about any other area of management, there are no formulas. There are, however, ways of approaching issues that are systematic and proven in practice.

For instance, in deciding where to invest time and money in enhancing human capital, an organization is well-advised to undertake careful assessment, as opposed to being satisfied with acting on instinct or undertaking casual analysis.

In "Maximinizing Your Return on People," published in the March issue of the Harvard Business Review, Laurie Bassi and Daniel McMurrer1 describe the approach to human capital management (HCM) that they have developed and tested with a wide array of clients. Their method has three steps:
  1. Assess your organization to identify strengths and weaknesses in how you currently manage human resources.

    Bassi and McMurrer provide a survey you can use to assess:

    • Leadership practices — in the areas of communication, openness to employee input, respecting employees, supervisory skills, executive skills, and systems for establishing smooth management transitions.

    • Employee engagement — an outgrowth of good job design, commitment to employees, appropriate use of employees' time, and systems for evaluating trends in employee engagement and for identifying drivers of productivity and customer satisfaction.

    • Knowledge accessibility — evidenced by availability of relevant knowledge, strong collaboration, unfettered sharing of information, and user-friendly systems for collecting and retrieving information.

    • Workforce optimization — meaning use of well-designed and continuously improved processes, maintenance of good working conditions, accountability for results, effective hiring, and an effective performance management system.

    • Learning capacity in the organization — achieved through encouragement of innovation, well-conceived and delivered training, effective employee development plans, management support for learning, and adoption of a well-designed automated system for managing and tracking learning activities.

  2. Determine the linkages between the profile of your HCM strengths and weaknesses, and the performance outcomes your organization is currently achieving.

  3. Identify the specific HCM factors (see list Step 1) that are driving organizational performance. Then identify which of these factors are relatively weak, so that you know where to focus your HCM development efforts.
Bassi and McMurrer emphasize that "the practices that have the greatest effect on organizational performance can vary within and across organizations and change with time." Therefore, the three-step process they describe is iterative not only to refine the understanding of linkages between HCM factors and organizational outcomes, but also to keep that understanding up-to-date as the linkages evolve.

1 CEO and VP of research, respectively, at McBassi & Company.


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