Lecture notes on Human Resource Management

lecture notes on strategic human resource management. human resource management responsibilities and human resource management research topics
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Dr.FlynnHanks,United States,Teacher
Published Date:26-07-2017
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INTRODUCTION Human resource management in context This book is about human resource management (HRM). Each of the 50 essays or ‘key concepts’ that comprise the core of the book says something signic fi ant about what HRM is, has been, and is becoming. This introduction gives context to the concepts discussed in this book by giving a brief definition of HRM as a concept and by highlighting some of the current debates in the combined e fi lds of HRM theory and practice. HRM:puttingpeopleinboxes? In general language terms, a concept refers to an idea, and especially an abstract idea that in scholarly terms can be classified in pursuit of organising knowledge and human experience. HRM is an experi­ ence that most of us undergo; most of us experience some form of employment; most of us experience ‘being managed’. In such con­ texts, not all of us are equally enamoured by being labelled ‘human resources’. In the tradition of studies in management, concepts often appear as discrete ‘boxes’ in models connected by arrows that seek to trace the relationships between such concepts, for example, in attempt­ ing to describe processes of cause and effect. Consequently, refer­ ence to ‘HRM’ as a field of study and professional practice might appear at face value to put people into such a ‘box’, i.e. a box labelled ‘resources’ that contains other strategic organisational resources such as capital and equipment, and (less tangibly, perhaps) time, knowledge and organisational brand. Many organisations continue to claim that ‘people’ represent their ‘greatest asset’, whereas some senior members of these very same organisations might perceive these same people as the major generator of cost (cf. Mayo, 2001). In selecting, listing and connecting between key concepts in HRM for this book we have followed scholarly tradition: we use xix I NTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT these concepts to organise current HRM knowledge and experi­ ence. However, we do this for ease of reference only and not because we believe that people experience HRM in this compartmentalised way. We keep in mind that ‘human resources’ have been people long before they became ‘employees’ or ‘managers’ – human resources both – in any given organisation. Abriefhistoryofpeoplemanagement It is valid – and perhaps more honest – to refer to HRM as ‘people managem ent’ (cf. Rowley, 2003). The practice of people manage­ ment has a long history. Indeed, writing on the area dates back to at least the 1st century, with Columella, a Roman farmer and former soldier whose De Rustica featured one of the earliest tracts on people management. The more recent incarnation of the management of people as HRM has earlier guises. This range includes the more obvious ones such as personnel management (PM) as well as those concerned with notions of ‘welfarism’ and ‘paternalism’, with many examples around the world from what were often labelled ‘enlight­ ened employers’ and those trying to ameliorate some of the harsh­ ness of industrialisation and provide basic working conditions. While somewhat historical, these management forms are not totally exclu­ sive and modern versions and examples can be seen, to greater or lesser extents, in each of these. Personnel management The phrase ‘personnel management’ (PM) continues to be used in some contexts as synonymous with HRM. These contexts tend to be given in reference to bureaucratic organisations and institutions where objective stability and rational (albeit largely inward­ looking) decision­ making and steeply vertical hierarchical report lines are emphasised (cf. Weber, 1947). In such organisational contexts, man­ agement mindsets that draw on impersonalised tradition and estab­ lished approaches towards managing people and interacting with other stakeholders tend to dominate and thus support perceptibly rigid interpretations of PM (cf. Flynn, 2007; Torrington et al., 2008). However, the concept of PM lives on in more general contexts for HRM theory and practice, as in the title of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the UK­ based community for HRM professionals (available at www.cipd.co.uk). Consequently, readers might wonder whether there are any real, ‘hard’ differences xx INTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT Table 1 PM and HRM: key distinctions Dimension Implementation Stance Practices Timescale Level Importance PM Professional Reactive Ad hoc Short Oper­ Marginal ational HRM Line Proactive Integrated Long Strategic Key between earlier forms of managing people (as illustrated by the Col­ umella example above), PM, and more contemporary, post­ 1980s HRM. In relabelling activities that formerly distinguished PM now as HRM, some readers might ask whether we are simply putting ‘old wine in new bottles’ (Armstrong, 1987); readers might ask whether by attempting to rebrand PM as HRM we are merely engaging in a scholarly attempt to apply scholarly ‘rhetoric’ to the complex ‘real­ ity’ of managing and working with people in organisations (Legge, 1995). If pressed, HRM scholars might argue that we can tease out useful distinctions between PM and HRM, not least in the six areas illus­ trated in Table 1. During the so­ called ‘golden age’ of Western­ style planned econ­ omies from the 1950s to the oil and currency crises of the 1970s, PM appeared to offer most answers to ‘people management’ problems in response to relatively stable or expanding business and employ­ ment opportunities (cf. Bratton & Gold, 2007; Tyson & Fell, 1986). Correspondingly, PM also became readily associated with the type of bureaucracy that introspectively assumed a significant degree of stability in the strategic environment for management decision­ making and, thus, assuming a relatively smooth flow from stage to stage in what Torrington et al. (2008) identify as the ‘personnel/ HR process’ or cycle from resourcing to development to rewards and to employment relations. This staged division is reflected in the domains underpinning the organisation of, and cross­ reference between, concepts discussed in this book. HRM as a ‘paradigm shift’ Against this general background the concept of HRM can be regarded as having emerged from established references to PM (cf. Storey, 1989). In terms beloved of researchers, the move from the xxi INTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT aforementioned PM to HRM can be described as a ‘paradigm shift’, i.e. a shift in emphasis and mindset in respect of what a sufficiently inu fl ential cadre of HRM scholars and practitioners appear to inter ­ pret generally as ‘achieving organisational objectives through people’ (cf. Armstrong, 2006; Mullins, 2006). Establishing a mindset that seeks to explore and interpret HRM as a patterned series of activi­ ties and interventions that should serve to add business value to the organisation allows for interpreting HRM as a series of activities that can be explained and, if needs be, justified in relation to help ­ ing the organisation achieve its business objectives. Interpreted thus, HRM becomes a ‘strategic’ activity, thus allowing ‘strategic HRM’ to emerge as an elaboration of the HRM paradigm (cf. Mabey & Salaman, 1995). Retrospectively, therefore, identifying and then attempting to operationalise shifts in emphasis between PM and HRM might serve to develop a more strategically sensitive approach to any over­ generalised ‘people management’ mindset. Thus, HRM decisions should be justifiable with reference to a business strategy that itself is responsive to changes in the organisation’s strategic busi­ ness environment. One common criticism of the PM mindset was that it encouraged retrospective thinking along the lines of ‘it’s worked well so far so why should we change it?’ HRM as a management concept As a management concept, HRM came to greater prominence during the mid­ 1980s with researchers identified collectively as the Harvard School (Beer et al., 1984). This framework usefully outlined several areas and linkages, including the diverse stakeholder inter­ ests and the impacts of situational factors that feed into HRM policy choices and HRM outcomes leading to long­ term consequences. At about the same time the ‘Michigan School’ (Fombrun et al., 1984) sought to emphasise the strategic interconnectedness of HRM activ­ ities and, above all, of HRM decision­ making. This outlined the key areas of HRM and their linkages and feedback loops between them, with ‘performance’ the outcome – a causal assumption explored in more detail below and discussed subsequently in this book under the concept heading models of HRM. To illustrate such ideas we note the following. Management deci­ sions with regards to job design will have resource implications for staff selection procedures: for example, the type of people who are likely to apply for a given job vacancy and are likely to be accepted for it. The consequences of selecting this or that candidate will have xxii INTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT implications for the future appraisal of new and existing employees. Differentiated performance appraisals will have resource implica­ tions for reward management and, where relevant, provision of fur­ ther training and development. This more integrated approach towards managing people can be interpreted as being more strategic than traditionally associated with PM, where – in the illustration set out above – the emphasis might be on ‘fitting’ people to an existing job rather than remodelling job design. Related to HRM here are concepts of human capital development (HCD) and human resource development (HRD), where the empha­ sis is on managing the development and expression of skills and intel­ ligence that people as employees might bring towards adding value to the organisation and, ultimately, its customers and other key stake­ holders. In a contrastive emphasis, HRM tends to emphasise people and development as costs (cf. Mayo, 1999, 2001). Related con­ cepts to HRD/HCD include social capital, intellectual capital and organisational capital management and development. Each of these overlapping concepts assumes that those managers assuming the responsibility and opportunity to ‘manage people’ are also able and willing to recognise, encourage, guide and co­ ordinate the intelli­ gence, skills, motivation and effort that employees individually and collectively bring to their work in organisations (Davenport, 1999; Mullins, 2006; Schultz, 1961). Linking HRM to performance As highlighted in Table 1, one of the key variables in the practice of HRM is business strategy. Organisations clearly have varied busi­ ness strategies, each with implications for HRM. We can see these in a range of management and business models. These include so­ called ‘lifecycle’ models (cf. Kochan & Barocci, 1985), where ‘start­ up’, ‘growth’, ‘maturity’ and ‘decline’ phases appear. Porter (1985) has ‘cost reduction’, ‘quality enhancement’ and ‘innovation’ as generic stra­ tegies, each of which will seek a distinctive HRM response. Another version is Grubman (1998), which aligns HRM practices to stra­ tegic styles labelled ‘products’, ‘operations’ and ‘customers’. Earlier role­ attribution models such as ‘defender’ and ‘prospector’ (Miles & Snow, 1978) have been developed into ‘internal’ and ‘market type’ employment systems (Delery & Doty, 1996). What these typologies indicate is that there are various organisational­ related impacts on how people are managed in terms of both HRM policies and prac­ tices, and as illustrated in Table 2. xxiii INTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT Table 2 Impacts on types of HRM Impact on organisation Impact on HRM Timescale focus Option range Phase Resourcing Maturity; decline Short Simple–complex Strategy Cost; quality; Rewards innovation Long Cheap–expensive Focus Product; operation; Development customer Other writers have been at the forefront of emphasising how HRM as a people­ oriented management process needs to justify itself with reference to business performance; and, increasingly now, with some assurance that HRM interventions serve to add value to cus­ tomers (cf. Huselid, 1995; Huselid et al., 1997; Varma et al., 2008). Several concepts in this current book make explicit connections to individual, team, and organisational performance; others im­ mediately imply such connections, as in the first concept listed in this book: assessment. In truth, many HR managers – together with line managers, team leaders, and other managers with some level of HRM responsibility and opportunity – often appear to forget this, focusing too determinedly on the ‘here and now’ of their contribu­ tion to organisational performance and underemphasising (as sug­ gested in Table 2) the complex and long­ term ‘value added’ that HRM might secure. HRM across business sectors This shift in emphasis accorded to HRM has impacted on people management activities across a full range of business sectors; not least, in public sector organisations, non­ prot fi /not ­ for­ prot fi organisa ­ tions, and non­ governmental organisations (NGOs) which, in com­ bination, remain major employers of people worldwide. To illustrate, under the so­ called new public management (NPM) paradigm, even public sector organisations began to recognise the relevance of con­ version to an HRM rather than a PM framework in order to make their decisions more systematically ‘market­ oriented’. This can be xxiv INTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT seen, for example, in ascribing more of a customer/client status to the taxpayer as a ‘consumer’ of public services (Flynn, 2007). HRM across national contexts Another approach towards both broadening and deepening our under­ standing of HRM is to develop less ethnocentric and more nuanced, context­ responsive and hence more suitable models of HRM that ree fl ct not just countries but also regions, such as Europe and also Asia (cf. Rowley & Benson, 2002; Rowley & Warner, 2004, 2007; Rowley et al., 2004; Zhu et al., 2007). Much of what we have dis­ cussed thus far has its conceptual origins in what might be termed ‘Western’ contexts for HRM practice and research, i.e. in those organisations and institutions concentrated in North America and Western Europe. In a parallel though relocated exercise, Zhu et al. (2009) highlight general trends of HRM changes in terms of people management systems and illustrate the underpinning factors, for ex­ ample, traditional values and culture, historical evolution, political and economic changes, and characteristics of society, industry and firm in each country) that determine the formation and reformation of management thinking as well as HRM policies and practices. Indeed, it is possible to interpret the so­ called ‘paradigm shift’ from (localised) PM to ‘global HRM’ as demonstrating primarily efforts among (mainly) Western scholars to impose some sense of order and control on processes that are vital, complex and still loosely defined (e.g. globalisation) and yet remain fundamental to attempts to inter­ pret organised and ‘managed’ human endeavour, regardless of social, economic, political and cultural context (Harry & Jackson, 2007). For, we are in the end still talking about ‘managing people’, as expressed in the title of the recently rebranded house journal of the aforementioned CIPD: People Management. To reiterate: we are, ulti­ mately and enduringly, talking about managing and working with people, developing them such that the organisations they work in are able to adapt effectively to changes in their local and global business environments (cf. Marchington & Wilkinson, 2008). HRM: a working definition Out of this wealth of scholarly activity, and connecting between research and the evolving complexities of real­ life management expe­ rience, is it possible to glean one stable definition of the HRM con ­ cept? The answer is ‘no’. For, and as illustrated in this introductory xxv I NTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT discussion, the precise nature and future of HRM as a concept and as a management activity remains uncertain; the definition of HRM remains a work in progress. To illustrate, one working practice­ oriented definition of HRM interprets the concept as ‘a strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organisation’s most valued assets – the people who are working there who individually and collectively contrib­ ute to the achievement of its objectives’ (Armstrong, 2006: 3). A broader and more inclusive view is to see HRM as the management of people. This is in terms of managing people in the broad areas of resourcing (varieties of recruitment and selection), reward­ ing (forms of pay), developing (forms of training and assessment), and the building and sustaining of relationships, primarily here, employment relations. Against the background of our discussion thus far, this definition ‘works’ in that it is coherent (i.e. it ‘makes sense’) and it is consistent in that it might be applied usefully across a wide range of manage­ ment, organisational and strategic business contexts. However, as a working definition it is not perfect: it raises as many questions as it answers. To illustrate: • This interim definition compounds the assumption (alluded to in the above discussion) that human beings can be usefully described as ‘resources’: the term used is ‘assets’. How reliable – or ethical, even – is this form of labelling? • Who defines the relative ‘value’ of the ‘assets’ as the ‘people’ working in an organisation? How is this/their ‘value’ to be meas­ ured over time? • In terms of measuring and rewarding the relative performance of these ‘assets’, where are the boundaries to be drawn between ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ contributions, and why? • To what extent is a unitary perspective and ethos implied or integral to the lexicon, stance and practices of HRM and can there be a pluralist HRM? These represent the type of questions relevant to all levels of research into current and emergent practices in HRM, and, indeed, in busi­ ness and management generally (cf. Saunders et. al, 2007). These also represent the type of questions addressed by subsequent entries in this book. Finally, no matter what the view or stance we take on PM, HRM and so on, it is useful and instructive to recall the following pithy xxvi INTRODUCTION: HRM IN CONTEXT points. That is: ‘People are the only element with the inherent power to generate value. All other variables offer nothing but inert poten­ tial. By their nature, they add nothing, and they cannot add anything until some human being leverages that potential by putting it into play’ (Fitz­ enz, 2000: xiii). There is an ongoing debate about the im­ portance of this or that function and role in organisations that the organisations would not be there or survive with it. People are dif­ ficult to manage; however, they are also primus inter pares compared to other aspects of organisations. This book is designed to help readers understand why. xxvii HOW TO USE THIS BOOK Aimsanddesign The primary aim of this book is to provide a concise, current and jargon­ free guide to management and business students whose inter­ ests span a range of management disciplines, together with a range of levels of study: for example, from undergraduate to graduate; from in­ company learning and development interventions to participation in MBA programmes. As a secondary aim, this book is designed to inform the decision­ making of management practitioners whose activities encompass both major and minor degrees of HRM respon­ sibility and (being optimistic) opportunity. In line with other Routledge ‘Key Concepts’ titles, this book is designed primarily to serve as a source of reference and support for students whose focus is on understanding more about the what, why and how of HRM across a range of national, industrial and organi­ sational contexts. Assuming that these students of management seek eventually to become effective practitioners of management, our aim is to provide a reference book in support of further study in the field of HRM generally and in relation to selected key concepts in par­ ticular. The references and suggested further reading lists attached to each concept essay offer an accessible entry point to this process of more focused self­ study and enquiry. Also in line with other titles in the Routledge ‘Key Concepts’ series, the concepts in this book are arranged alphabetically and thus can be referenced easily. As part of this ‘how to use this book’ guidance there is (below) a section that usefully reconfigures the list of alphabetically listed concepts into the four main areas of HRM plus a section on emerging issues in HRM, each with its list of alphabetical concepts. This feature allows readers to interpret HRM in terms of its main areas of strategic practice. Within each concept essay, key concepts (and their derivatives) discussed elsewhere in the book are highlighted in bold. As a further xxix H OW TO USE THIS BOOK source of cross­ reference and guidance, each concept entry has a see also section designed to encourage readers to cross­ refer systemati­ cally between individual concepts and thereby develop a holistic pic­ ture of current and emerging trends in HRM research and practice. In terms of style, where HRM terminology usage differs – for ex­ ample, between standard styles of British and American English (e.g. ‘compensation’ for ‘reward’) – these differences are discussed in each concept essay and highlighted again in the cross­ referencing ‘see also’ rubric. Concept selection In term of why the particular entries are used, this was an iterative exercise. No list can ever be complete nor satisfy everyone’s own personal biases, taste or fashion. We are grateful to the many HRM scholars and practitioners, along with students of HRM, who have commented on earlier drafts of this book. Of course, we can all add more concepts and claim that concept ‘x’ is missing and is critical to the field. Yet, we are restricted to 50 concepts and ‘x’ would mean removing which concept from the 50 exactly? For those who radi­ cally disagree with our content we simply suggest they do their own book. We originally compiled a long list of possible entries and then sent them to colleagues and took advice from authors in the field. In terms of the background of the book, this is mixed, with numerous experts and authors from, and based in, the UK, USA, Australia and China. Accommodating a variety of learning styles Regardless of their individual provenance, we assume that readers will use this book according to their own preferred styles of reading and learning. In this introductory discussion we offer some brief and general guidelines about how to use this book as a source of refer­ ence for further studies and as a source of guidance towards improved HRM practice. As implied already in respect to linking HRM to conceptualisa­ tions and experiences of people management, HRM is one aspect of management activity that all working people have direct expe­ rience of: we are all consumers of HRM. Indeed, negative experi­ ences of HRM commonly act as a spur persuading working people to engage in further study and strive after higher professional quali­ fications. It also ‘colours’ people’s views and perspectives of HRM. xxx H OW TO USE THIS BOOK At various stages in our life most of us undergo some experience of being employed; and at significant stages in our life experience other people’s attempts to ‘manage’ us. If, for example, you are currently enrolled at a university, you are likely to be combining roles of client, student and member of a particular organisation as you experience other people’s attempts to ‘manage’ you, your course of studies and, in relation to the work you produce, your ‘performance’. By cross­ referring between concepts, you will notice that the contributors to this book express different styles and differing per­ spectives on key issues. This is valid, as there is no one ‘correct’ answer in discussions of HRM – even the concept of best practice in HRM is contentious (cf. Rowley & Poon, 2008) as are its indi­ vidual practices, such as performance management (cf. Rowley & Yang, 2008). Furthermore, you will note that each contributor brings to bear perspectives honed by experiences across business and national contexts for HRM. Indeed, our intention has been to bring together contributors whose views and experiences might reflect in aggregate those of the people likely to read and work with this book: in other words, people like you. HRM research approaches There are several tried and tested methodological bases for adopting such an approach. For example, some readers might use this book in support of a ‘researcher as participant observer’ approach, systemati­ cally recording how HRM decisions appear to be made in an organi­ sation or context for work that they are contributing to directly. Alternatively, there is the ‘observer as participant’ approach, where readers might use this book to inform their reflection on how HRM decisions appear to have been made in an organisation of which they have no direct experience – except, perhaps, as members of case study discussion groups. Readers can find detailed guidance in devel ­ oping these approaches in a wide range of books focusing on business research methods, several of which appear in the various lists of refer­ ents presented at various stages in this book. Of particular relevance here is the section of the book where there is a list of HRM­ related open­ access websites together with selected other resources such as international HRM and business journals. Many of these also appear in the suggested further reading sections that appear at the end of each concept entry in the book. xxxi HOW TO USE THIS BOOK KeyHRMareasandconcepts As explained above, underlying the alphabetical listing of concepts in this book is a structure of both established and emerging HRM research. This structure assumes that, across organisations and busi­ ness sectors, one way to organise thinking around the necessary or preferred series of strategic HRM decisions and interventions is to identify and locate key functions or strategic decision domains. Thus, the interpretation of the HRM concept developed in this book assumes four core domains of HRM activity – domains that com­ monly appear in textbooks and programmes of professional devel­ opment and qualification for HRM specialists. These four domains are: employee resourcing (e.g. decisions relevant to recruitment and selection); employee rewards (e.g. decisions about pay and promo­ tions); employee development (e.g. decisions to upgrade skill and com­ petence levels of individuals and teams); and employee relations: the perceptions, processes and institutions in the relationship between employee and employer. In order to reinforce the future orienta­ tion of this book, we have chosen to work with an additional section that connects across these four domains and reflects the increasing globalisation of business and thereby of HRM theory and practice: emerging issues in HRM. Hence, implicit within the list of 50 concepts that form the core of this book is a pattern of organisational activity that describes four main areas of HRM practice. Readers might choose thus, to focus on one particular core HRM function. To guide and support this approach, the 50 concepts listed in this book might be reordered and read as follows: Employee resourcing These concepts explain (among other key issues) how people might come to be employed as members of staff in organisations and how HR managers can resource business strategies efficiently. The fol ­ lowing list identifies the concepts in this category: • assessment • contracts of employment • discrimination • human resource planning • induction • job planning • organisational exit xxxii HOW TO USE THIS BOOK • recruitment • resourcing • retention • selection • talent management. Employee rewards These concepts explain (among other key issues) how and why people might choose to remain employed in a particular organisation and how managers can attract, retain, motivate and reward employ­ ees fairly and effectively. The concepts listed separately in this cat­ egory are: • compensation strategies • executive rewards • expatriate pay • information systems • labour markets • motivation and rewards • non­ monetary rewards • pensions and other benefits • performance and rewards • valuing work. Employee development These concepts explain (among other key issues) how employees might seek to add value to themselves and to their organisations and how managers might obtain, develop and maintain the skills their organisation needs immediately and in the future. The concepts to be read in conjunction in order to understand this set of HRM inter­ ventions better are: • development • career development • cross­ cultural training • cultural and emotional intelligence • knowledge management • leadership development • models of HRM • organisational learning xxxiii H OW TO USE THIS BOOK • performance management • teams • training and development. Employee relations These concepts explain (among other key issues) perspectives and how both managers and employees might negotiate and otherwise manage the employment relationship which, in many ways, rep­ resent the core of how we all experience employment and of being managed as a ‘human resource’. The concepts that help us understand this experience are: • collective bargaining • conflict management • dispute settlement • employment relations • employee involvement and participation • frames of reference • grievance and discipline • health and safety • legal aspects • management styles • psychological contract • trade unions. Emerging issues These concepts examine and explain some of the emerging issues in HRM. As highlighted in the introductory discussion above, as a concept HRM is itself a work in progress. Concepts in this book that serve to illustrate this work are: • best practice • diversity management • international HRM • outsourcing • strategic HRM. These five concepts in particular illustrate how interpretations of HRM are shifting in response to increasingly turbulent international and global business environments. xxxiv HUM AN R ESOURCE M ANAGEM ENT The Key Concepts ASSESSMENT ASSESSMENT It is as well to begin a series of discussions highlighting key concepts in HRM with one that emphasises performance. Performance becomes vivid and measurable as an aspect of assessment otherwise referred to in terms such as (performance) ‘evaluation’, ‘appraisal’, or ‘review’. As discussed elsewhere in this book, performance can be measured and improved at various levels of HRM activity: organisational, team­ level, and individual. Assessment appears as a specialist and outsource­ able activity, e.g. the ‘assessment centres’ that specialise in recruiting and selecting the staff that organisations need. Thus, assessment is an important part of management including management of perform­ ance, discussed elsewhere in this book under specic fi concept head ­ ings such as performance management and performance and rewards. From an HRM perspective, the ‘bottom line’ remains that performance at any level which becomes manifest and thereby (poten­ tially) manageable and improvable in as far as it can be assessed. This holds true regardless of national, organisational or regional context; and regardless of whether we are talking about HRM in ‘for prot fi ’ or in ‘not­ for­ prot fi ’ organisations, in family businesses or venture start­ ups, in established small and medium­ sized enterprises (SMEs), and in globally inu fl ential multi ­ national enterprises or corporations (MNEs/MNCs). AssessmentasacoreHRMintervention In the experience of many employees, formal performance assess­ ment is a once a year activity. However, from an employer perspec­ tive assessment is something that all supervisors and senior managers might undertake regularly, and both formally and informally. Clearly, the continuous micro­ management of employee perform­ ance within the organisation can be disruptive; as one HRM inter­ vention too many. Worse, applying systems of assessment might add little to performance if carried out with little regard to employee motivation, capability and productivity. Nonetheless, from a com­ bined business and HRM perspective, performance assessment remains an essential part of managing an organisation and the people within it. The crucial parts of the assessment process are to provide accurate feedback of assessment and to link assessment to jobs and organisational objectives. Here we discuss assessment as a core activ­ ity in the context of resourcing and retention – processes given separate and detailed discussion elsewhere in this book. 3 ASSESSMENT Assessment of employees has to have clear links back to the business plan and HR plans so that employees have objectives and resources connected to these plans. The assessment process is not an HRM function exercise to have supervisors and supervisees tick boxes in 10 minutes once a year. Assessment is a regular and ongoing activ­ ity of the line manager and subordinate and should be undertaken informally whenever there is a performance issue to be attended to (for example if it is noticed that the employee seems distracted or unmotivated or if mistakes are made or if the employee is producing particularly good results which should be commended). More formal reviews are best undertaken each three months (or at appropriate intervals for the job and industry). Activelyassessingperformance The employee’s performance is assessed in a structured way based upon the job description, i.e. as one outcome of a process discussed elsewhere in this book under job planning. But the job description, while being important, is not the only factor as the employee’s potential in terms of succession planning and career path planning is also being assessed. An employee who is being moderately stretched in the job is more likely to be retained than one who is underachiev­ ing and bored. But the key is being ‘moderately’ stretched. If the person feels that they are having a greater workload or more work stress than they can handle or a greater stretch than their colleagues they may feel victimised or taken for granted. This is especially likely to be the feeling of the employee if they are not given resources (in terms of management support, sufficient financial or material resources, enough time during normal working hours or necessary training) to be successful in the undertaking. It is a regular practice of some managers (and co­ workers) to put newcomers under pressure and then have them fail. Even those who do not fail will start to look for a new opportunity where their performance is supported with resources and assessed in terms of their contribution to the organisa­ tion and not assessed in terms of them being old, or female, or from a different ethnic group or just being a new recruit (cf. CEBC, 2004). Even when the employee is assessed as not being at the required standard there must be a system of performance recovery to have the employee come up to the required standard before a decision is taken to dispense with their services. The organisation has spent time and money in the recruitment of the employee so to throw them out without trying to improve performance and without trying to 4

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