Evaluation of the Best Employee Development Delivery Approach for an Organisation
Employee Development (ED), also known as Human Resources Development, is concerned with developing people, facilitating learning and helping the organisation to adjust to changing strategies and priorities (Wilson, 2012). Integrating it within an organisation remains a challenge (Harrison, 2009) just as the need to do so is still vague, to include acquiring a uniform definition of the term Employee Development (ED). This document summarises ED as the modernisation of people’s physical and intellectual abilities through continued learning and training for the successful development and the apt existence of the organisation and its external environments. This essay will attempt to bring to light the best method of ED integration into an organisation. A review of the three delivery approaches, that is, Outsourcing, Line Management (LM) and Human Resources Office (HRO) will be undertaken against the elements identified as influencers of ED facilitation in an organisation as a whole in order to ascertain the most perfect pathway of ED delivery.
The rationale of ED
In a world of change, with the common effects of globalisation, technological advancement, climate change and ever-changing political and business regulatory laws and systems, people and organisations are the core centre of requiring further learning, modifying, unifying and modernising of their skills, abilities, knowledge, values and attitudes to survive in the evolving world. The benefit is both for the individual and the organisations. Graduates consider joining organisations with possibilities of career development training programmes (Feldman, 2000). Employees are also reported distant in practice if they think their organisation does not care for them (Ganger, 1999). For employees, ED enhances performance, job satisfaction and career development. On the perspective of the organisation, it allows a competitive edge, organisational development and employee retention. The resultants of ignoring human capital among others are unskilled workforce, fear of technological advancement, redundancy and low productivity (Wilson, 2012). A brief example is that of Microsoft which produces new versions of Windows and MS Office almost every year. All operating systems that are averagely eight years old or even less are easily phased as outdated or incompatible with the newer computer applications. Organisations and employees are forced to adapt to the newer versions, and this also requires further training and learning to operate them. This being just but one grain of change technologically, among other possible changes that bombard work environments daily; should an organisation take a Specialist or make use of its Line Managers or its Human Resources Office to cater for the planning, leading, organising, coordination and implementation of trainings or similar developments? To clear this, we consider what makes up an individual and that is, needs according to motivational theories and what makes up an organisation and that is, Structure, Culture, competent People, Business Strategy and Financial resources. The first 4 elements are being identified by Collins (2011) as elements of organisational development. The following will use the five essentials that make up an organisation and/or its organisational development as the basis for coming up with the best method of transferring or delivering ED in an organisation.
Structure and ED delivery methods
The main plank of an organisation is its structure that consists of processes, systems and hierarchies and ED function being a part of it. The structure’s coordination, control, planning, leading and design determine the quality of the ED as an output to other systems. Here the LMr plays a bigger role connecting to employees and reporting to leadership as well as the HRO to create a coherent downward-upward and vice-versa reporting system.
The clearer the structure is, the easier and fluent it is for employees to receive employee development through either office. Looking at a near example within the system of maintaining order, power and authority, as well as expertise of the function within a structure, is a case study brought out by Mindell (1995), of an American pharmaceutical company Searle, which had a very good record of well established training and development function. Training effectiveness lowered at the hands of line manager’s transfer in responsibility. It was later resolved this was partly out of lack of ownership of the LM function within the structure, minimising support for training and development. This highlights the battles that can arise between central function and line managers in relation to training. Effectively, the principles and processes governing provision of training were put into question and systems and processes revised within the hierarchy to grand the line managers more awareness, shared responsibility, commitment and ownership which also changed the shape of the central function to a HRO to a more facilitative one.
Whilst change of structure and roles and responsibilities for line managers is inevitable due to the ever changing development of an organisation, this also means more responsibilities for the LMrs and HRO and can blur the need for employee development for both offices even though this will be most needed under circumstances of organisational change (Wilson, 2012).
Certain organisations according to their type, size and nature are more likely to invest in ED through LM and HRO, e.g. knowledge-based organisations like security intelligence firms. Outsourcing may not be an option for security and confidentiality reasons. Although, Davidson argues that most executives in organisations prefer dealing with HR Department only in matters of people management as they provide more accurate information and timeless reports, and are more consistent in service delivery and enhanced handling of compliance issues. However, the status of affairs mean that LM and HRO, reference Searle, can be in a position to block or support employee development effectiveness, leaving outsourcing being more favourable. DeRose and McLaughlin (1995) calls outsourcing as “turning over the heart and soul of the HRD function to a third party”, implying that the purpose of ED function has been sold off to a third party. However, high ranked organisation will always require outsourcing from specialist to remain on top of the game with resourceful people capable of coping with change.
Business Strategy and ED Delivery Methods
The strategy is directly linked to organisational development in nature and both are constantly developing. The techniques of organisational development facilitate the communication and understanding of the vision and mission of the organisation, and a well structured approach which leads to a two-way dialogue and commitment to implementation of plans taking the organisation forward (Collins, 2011).
An international lift and elevator company called Kone in 2004 reportedly boosted its market success as a result of merging HR Strategy into its Business Strategy especially on Employee Development (Pollit, 2004). Its HRO runs various programmes from trainees to management to employees, with the goal of appropriately intellectually and mechanically resourcing its employees, eventually the organisation and its future. It has yielded great success in survival internationally; employer image development, and safety related accidents were reduced by 50% in 6 years in one of its safety training programs. This success is credited to HR strategy supporting Business Strategy, as policies and procedures are implemented accordingly from top to bottom and bottom to top.
The above paragraph highlights a success example of a HRO with ability to serve and deliver employee development to its organisation strategically in all facets of development, i.e. organisational, management, succession planning, self-development and career development. Had management and leadership not been strategically driven, working in partnership, outsourcing would have born better results considering the amount of expertise required to streamline employee development strategically. For the Line Manager, being a strategic partner, a management expert, an employee relations champion and a change mediator, might be too much to ask from one office even as many authors agree a supervisor’s support from the line manager is always critical to have learning and development for the individuals. (McCracken and Wallace, 2000) Model of Characteristics of Strategic HRD outlines that LM’s commitment and involvement is integrated by strategic Human Resources Development. However, in most cases strategic HRD and integration of employee development is consulted and agreed together with outsourced experts before implementations.
Culture and Employee Delivery Methods
Culture feeds on built assumptions, set grounds of how things are and should be and for all three delivery approached can be a promoter or a hindrance. Deliverance through LM can down screen the number and type of people likely to receive employee development. Ardichviliand Manderscheid, (2008) highlight that ethnic minorities and gender underrepresentation leave fewer people in management roles, and as a result excludes these particular gender and groups from development opportunities, networking and mentoring. In another perspective, not all line managers are satisfied with implementing tasks believed to be belonging to HR Department e.g. Searle Company. The way things have always been done can be a psychological barrier of transferring to a new culture and process of having either LM or HRO or outsourcing providing ED. In an experience organisation, the line manager continued to send conflicted colleagues to HRO and HRO continues to send the colleagues back to their line manager. Eventually, the conflicts went unsolved as LM was not aware it was no longer HRO’s responsibility. Mindell (1995) argues the persistence of lack of skills, time, support and value to training by LM is sometimes propagated by HR Department professionals in an attempt to preserve a mystique of their specialism and retain control. Outsourcing mostly pierces through cultural limitations as it is carefully integrated by external specialists with the expertise to expect and deal with resistance and underlying limiting aspects in ED, chances are they have proven success in the field. This is without ignoring Woodall et al. 2009, who argues documented problems existing of external consultants’ being distant with client’s fine knowledge of business, culture and strategies. Ulrich (1996) also mentions that outsourcing can disable the organisation’s ability to develop distinctive competences within their units. While Walton (1999) states that an external developer can encounter problems in identifying the learning needs of participants without appropriate internal support. However, in most cases, when organisations approach specialists, it is within the organisation’s expense putting information under the table. Therefore, they are more than ready to do whatever it takes to make progressive development.
Competence of three deliverers
Managers and HR professionals’ need to be equipped in order to carry out duties set for them by the organisation and the management. Without the capability to deliver, all strategy, policies, innovativeness becomes just politically right but practically impossible if the climate and the capacity to perform is not cemented.
Another perception to this is, does LM have the time to add people developmental issues to their duties and can they do it well? Are motivational issues more critical than having a project at hand completed and results delivered? Is it a modern trained manager or a traditionally trained one with unarguable consensus to taking on people developmental issues? As highlighted in Searle, most managers could not immediately take on the responsibility of people training and development until after they were trained and developed to do so themselves.
Some organisations’ senior professionals take on management and leadership roles e.g. scientists, and doctors and their management and leadership roles are overlooked (Wilson, 2012). In the UN scientific organisations, the scientists have the biggest mass of subordinates, if they were to deliver development aspects to their teams, their insufficient expertise in unscientific matters would mean delivery of ED would be unsuccessful, yet need for development for themselves and their subordinates remains.
It is common knowledge that outsourcing can open a wide variety of skilled workforce than an organisation can employ in a long term period, offering more capital in the sense of service perimeters, especially for start up companies. Outsourced professionals, HR specialists are competent and ready to perform as it is their existence to offer such consultancy as service for profit.
Finance and ED delivery methods
Financial resources have great influence on the ability to take on the delivery of training through LM or HR Department or specialist. With great advance in technology and access to information, most organisations are moving their entire employee development function to renowned service centre facilities that have heavy fixed reduced costs among a multiple of clients (Harris, 2003; Beausang, 2004). Therefore, identifying training activities that will yield high returns of profit for the organisation is increasingly becoming popular through identifying and addressing real training and development needs that lead to genuine performance improvement. This is value for money that satisfies all stakeholders, employees, employers and dividends (Mindell, 1995). Organisations as the European Union entities acquire their training from specialists and eventually do not retain a unit for development as a means to cut costs. However, Mindell (1995) argues that LM professionals often lack ability and expertise to defend development budget and function, and often relieved to have this area outsourced or budget cut as it is not part of their core profile existence. HRO is also often misunderstood in requiring a budget to retain and keep training and development programmes since it’s an investment of intangible things, mostly lacking clear objectives and common terminology and as a result problematic to advocate. Where else specialists’ maybe more convincing and organisations are more prepared to spend on them when they approach them; there is always a real need or a problem requiring implementation in employee/people development.
Whilst the Line Manager movement support that he is the best for development for people needs and organisational needs, he is not ready to take on the role, as both line manager and central function are challenged by similar elements of competence, structural, cultural and strategic reasons to be effective, thus, the perfect alignment of ED delivery approaches requires specialist knowledge. A lot of micro management issues determine the success of an organisation and these particulars, a growing organism (organisation) can be oblivious to as a variety of tangible challenges are given priority ED being intangible. Outsourced specialists are not blinded or threatened by an organisation’s micro management issues culture and can see and breakthrough beyond the lime light being external. This leaves the specialist or outsourcing being the best method of delivery to a greater extent, while ED should continue to be promoted within the organisation’s business strategy as well as all its units. The same advantage for outsourcing can be a disadvantage given the variable circumstances. Nijihof (2004) states that ‘’Whatever the motivation for outsourcing all or part of the ED function, if the process is not handled correctly, the move will be of limited benefit to the company’’.
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