No matter the breadth or the depth of an organization, it will always have the inherent need for human resources. It is safe to say that without manpower, no organization in the world would exist. Recognizing not only the need for people, but more importantly, the need for skilled, efficient and loyal employees has been a key turning point in defining the role of the HR professional.
As the "people people" or organizations, today"s HR professionals work in a wide variety of capacities as mediators, mentors, job analysts, and career planners – to name a few. However, perhaps some of the most important and challenging functions of HR professionals are directly related to the recruitment, selection, training, and appraisal of the organization"s employees (or potential employees as the case may be). It is up to HR manager or management team to create processes and methodologies in recruiting, training, and appraising its staff in such a way that it is congruent with the values, vision and culture of the organization.
This can be an enormous challenge – especially in today"s business world where companies are constantly acquiring and merging together forming whole new identities at an exponential rate. In dealing with the ambiguity of the corporate world HR professionals realize that it is not singular performance of each and every HR function that will assure the best human resources for their organizations, it is the alignment and integration of all of the HR functions that create an environment that empowers and encourages employee growth, competency, and loyalty.
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There are two main components of the staffing function, which are the recruitment and selection of potential employees. Recruitment, which involves all actions in attracting applicants from both inside and outside the organization, is one of the most pivotal roles of the HR professional. The bottom line in the recruiting effort is to attract the most qualified applicants for the needed positions by communicating the qualifications needed in order to fulfill the position.
With a constant cycle of mergers and acquisitions occurring around the globe involving some of the world"s most monolithic organizations, the role of recruiter has changed vastly over the past few years. Because organizations are finding themselves more and more saturated with talented and highly competent employees, they are looking to fulfill vacant positions within the organization. This is also a very logical approach because existing employees are already well oriented with the policies and culture of the organization and do not need to undergo the orientation that an "external hire" would require.
In contrast, recruiters have also had to become much more creative and ultimately aggressive in recruiting potential applicants externally. With the introduction of the World Wide Web and the increase in competitiveness among universities, colleges and other post-secondary institutions, graduates are entering the business world with more knowledge, skills and insight than ever before, making them desirable assets to many organizations.
With the increase in popularity of job fairs, co-op programs and web-based career centers, recruiters are now equipped with the resources they need to seek out and entice the most qualified of applicants. At the same time, graduates and other people seeking employment have become empowered to seek out their most desirable positions, and are challenging recruiters with a much more proactive and aggressive approach themselves.
Once the recruiter has aptly performed the function of attracting qualified applicants, they then assume the role of "selector". In this capacity, it is up to the HR professional to select the best possible applicants to fill the positions that are needed. Usually the selection process involves the consideration of three types of information:
1. Education, Work Experience and Background History
2. KSAO"s – Ability, Performance, Personality, Honesty/Integrity
3. Medical Condition or similar considerations – physical and psychological health
The selection process also usually involves, the initial sharing of information, filling out and application, initial interview, the administration of any tests, a final interview (or secondary interview with potential colleagues), reference checks, and then the final selection is made. Although the selection process varies in different organizations, the underlying framework is usually the same.
Throughout the entire recruiting and selection processes, the HR professional must also use their intuition and consider the applicant using less "tangible" measurement methods, such as observing their mannerisms, understanding the applicants" personal values and beliefs and what their extra-curricular interests are. Although an applicant is judged more on his or her qualifications and skills, as a "selector", it is important for the HR professional to select someone whose values and beliefs are congruent with the company and who they feel would best "fit" within the culture of the organization.
If an HR professional is able to use their intuition and "people skills" effectively in attracting and selecting applicants, they are ultimately integrating and aligning their "staffing" role with their successive role as a trainer, which follows once a successful applicant has been selected.
The health of any organization depends on the development of its people. If indeed the greatest asset is its human resources, then it is even more vital that the organization allow for its HR professionals to invest time and energy into this vital planning function. As was stated earlier, the success of the HR professional in being an effective recruiter and selector is key in ultimately determining their success as a trainer, and the employees" success in becoming well-oriented with the philosophy, policies, procedures, and culture of the organization.
When planning how best to train new and existing employees, HR professionals should always be sure to address both immediate and long-range goals, behaviours and skills. However, more often than not, just like anyone else, HR people cannot always assume or pretend to know what would best work for everyone, so it is critical that before planning out the training process, they must conduct a thorough needs assessment. This can be done through many ways such as the administration of questionnaires and surveys to determine employee needs and expectations, observation of job functions and the organization as a whole, and other methods of qualitative information gathering.
Once a training plan has been established, the entire process by which people learn what is expected of them in their new roles in the organization is socialization. This process, not unlike many other HR processes, has multiple stages such as: Entry/Anticipatory Socialization, Socialization/Accommodation, and Mutual Acceptance. It is important for HR professionals to recognize and encourage the full development of the new employee through all of these stages.
Throughout the orientation and training of new (or old) employees, it is also important for an HR professional to conduct a training and development assessment. A thorough assessment would include an analysis of the training needs as well as the development needs over the next few years. Training needs should be based on immediate needs for changes in behaviour, where as the long-range development goals should be based on the acquisition of knowledge and skills to be used now and in the future.
Positioning employee training to focus on short and long term development helps HR professionals to look "down the road" and address how they can help their employees meet challenges, create change and ensure the overall health of the organization. In using this futuristic approach, an imperative strategic alignment is built to integrate employee training and development, with that of employee performance management.
Once employees have gone through all of the processes or socialization and have become well-oriented with how the organization functions on all levels, it is at this time that the HR professional takes on yet another role as that of performance measurer and manager.
There are two primary reasons for performance management:
1. Administrative: includes promotional consideration, dismissal consideration, compensation, benchmarking and the ability to manage performance at all levels
2. Developmental: includes the ability to provide feedback, assessing training needs, encouraging external and internal motivation, and analysis current job design
Historically, the only people directly involved in the appraisal of an employee"s performance were the employee and their immediate supervisor. However, as the practice of HR evolves, so have many of its functions, especially in the area performance appraisal. Today, more and more organizations are adopting the practice of "360 degree feedback" in evaluating their employees" performances. This method involves not only the boss and the employee, but also the employee"s peers, subordinates, and clients.
'This relatively new practice facilitates a much more well-rounded and thorough evaluation of the employees performance and has been proven to be much more useful in assessing the employees developmental needs and areas for improvement. However, like any major practice, the "360 degree feedback" method is not without it complications. Allowing this type of participation in performance appraisal can cause such problems as: the "Halo Effect", central tendency, overt leniency or strictness, and biased appraisals.
In recognizing these common appraisal problems, it can be said that the ends still justify the means in this case. As long as appraisals are designed to be relevant to the job, sensitive, reliable, fair, and practical, employees receive a much better picture of how they are doing in their jobs and where they can improve.
It is my opinion that the strategic integration of the HR functions that have been discussed in this paper such as staffing, training, and performance management are not aligned in the sense of a linear relationship. In my mind, they are linked cyclically, with each function being a continuation of the previous function.
For example, once a performance appraisal has been conducted, it is at this time that a training needs assessment is also conducted, allowing all parties involved to gain a better understanding of the areas in which improvement is needed. In turn, this would be where the HR professional would take on the role of trainer and facilitate the further development of the employee. It can also be seen that performance appraisals are also very helpful within the recruitment and selection role in aiding the HR professional to gain a better understanding of the qualifications and behaviours that are essential in seeking out potential candidates and choosing the best one for the job.
Writing this paper and taking closer look at these specific HR functions has helped me to gain a better understanding of the many roles that the HR professional has to assume at any given time. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the underlying connectivity between all of the HR functions and how strongly they are linked.
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