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Sacha Cherrington 96003919 2012

There is a need for some serious reflection amoung HR practioners and theorists alike about what constitutes good Strategic HRM. (Stone, 2010) What constitutes good Strategic Human Resource Management (HRM) lies in the historical and contemporary definitions of Human Resource Management and the practice of such definitions within the work environ. There are four main roles of the Human Resource Manager, one of them being strategic partner to both management and employee relationships. (Stone, 2010) When looking into Stones Letter to the editor (Stone, 2010.pp10) it is easy to see where the writer is coming from. The utilisation of workers/employees as factors in the production process has been a long evaluated process which has become in essence relative to the work environment they are relegated to. The job of the Human Resource Manager has evolved over time from that of Personnel Manager to Human relations and then to what we term as Human Resource Manager. The Human Resource Manager is relied heavily upon to predict and identify positive and negative factors in the workplace, then create and implement strategies to align job satisfaction and work ethic with the strategic vision of the employer to create an outcome that benefits both. It is a difficult job for any one person and relies on the co-operation of all parties involved. The author of the letter to the editor points out that the inference of Human Resource Management as strategic and vision based creates a type of reactive management which he terms as management by crisis. (Stone, 2010; pp10) However if we were to look at the theory and practice of strategic HRM as a whole over time and in terms of relationship with the other key roles of the HRM we would see that though some may see these practices and implemented strategies are not only necessary for the continuation of employment and business growth, but play a key role in the happiness of staff and the continuation of application and alignment to the vision and core values of the organisation as a whole. In order to truly understand this concept of Strategic HRM and the 1

Sacha Cherrington 96003919 2012


relationship between the other key roles, we will firstly look into the meaning of Strategic HRM and then what actually constitutes good Strategic HRM. This way when we move to examine the relationship between the key roles and relate all this to Puzzled HR Practitioner and his current views, we will be able to see how everything within the realm of HRM is interconnected and cannot be discounted in favour of one or the other. The concept of Strategic HRM has developed over time, more so in the last ten years, alongside the conceptual changes of Personnel Management to Human Resource Management. (Rudman, 2010) Because of this defining Strategic HRM can be broad and implies different things to different companies depending on how involved the HRM is in the strategic management of the organisation. Broadly speaking, Rudman (2010) describes Strategic HRM as the integration of business strategy into everyday operation, and the relationship between manager and employee becoming more horizontal with the employee becoming more stable in their environment and working more competitively for the goals of the company. Relationships are made between the organisational goals and the subsequent aims and changes in the organisations recruitment, development and training, performance management and employee relations strategies, policies and practices; all belong under the strategic HRM banner. This in a sense seems an obvious concurrence as the HRM is responsible for the motivation of the employee while trying to keep both morale and work output high. Bartol and Martin (1998) discuss the importance of Strategic HRM as it affects the other key roles of the HRM process. How can one actively recruit and manage staff without the essence of the organisation in mind? Training and development all rely on the strategic direction of the business. There can be no growth without the realisation and implementation of the vision and strategy of the organisations structure. Puzzled HR Practitioner seems to see this concept in a negative connotation, yet could it be that he is one of those over worked people 2

Sacha Cherrington 96003919 2012


he talks about and is substituting poor management for strategic management and the over use of the people in the roles of HRM as a buffer for the confusion. In real terms the extension of strategic management concepts into practice comes in a form of empowerment of the staff/employee to take an active interest in the job they are doing. (Stone, 2010) Puzzled HR Practitioner asks for some serious reflection about what exactly constitutes good strategic HRM. (Stone, 2010) This can be seen in the integration of the roles of the HRM and the endeavour of organisations to recruit and develop the thinking performer. (Francis & Keegan, 2006) The implementation of healthcare and medical plans into the workplace, aim at keeping staff health and morale at optimum performance levels enabling employees to take control of their lives within the work environment. These can be detrimental to staff morale when employees are forced to take part removing that control. However the fact that many organisations offer these as perks of the job is more likely than the former. Herein lies the crux of good strategic HRM, the factor of giving employees a choice and also input into what will make them perform better in effect gives them little excuse to not perform properly. The use of training, performance management and development coincide to align the strategic management of the organisational values and vision, creating a partnership between management and employee which did not occur previously. The reality of this is that not everyone can be satisfied at all times and the good strategic HRM will look at ways of alleviating workplace stress for as many employees as possible, while constantly reviewing the process and the success rate of job performance. The following chart helps to solidify the necessity of strategic HRM in both management and employee performance. Diagram removed (Source: Rudman, 2010; pp19)

Sacha Cherrington 96003919 2012


This brings us to the integration of the key roles of the HRM. These roles are employee champion; change agent and administrative expert. We can now see the theory for the integration and solidification of HRM as a partner in both the management and employment structure needs to be strategic and evolving as a role in order to compete successfully in the management market. It is through the other key roles that this occurs and HRM as a whole becomes a huge endeavour for anyone willing to undertake it. This is not to say that it is impossible, merely the opposite, we can see in the chart above how possible integrated HRM can be. The key to performing the roles is to realise the need for the processes and strategies to be underpinned by management yet understood by staff and based around the needs of all within the organisation. Puzzled HR Practitioner refers to the skill levels and reliability of the staff which affects the consumer retention and satisfaction. (Stone, 2010) Recruitment is essential in the process, yet the HRM is bound by the applications to the process. Picking the best recruit is often hard and marred by employment regulations and contractual obligations. How can one observe and employ correct personnel over a two or three day interview process. The HRM is bound to commit to fulfil organisational beliefs after only hours of meeting and discussing potential with individuals. The true balance of the HRM relies on the ongoing support provided to the successful applicant and the upholding belief and faith that both employee and employer will uphold their commitments to the job and its entitlements. In this the HRM becomes both employee champion and change agent, two of the key roles associated with the task of HRM. As employee champion, the HRM provides the relationship between management and meeting the needs of the employee. This can be hard to do if the employee is the one in arrears with reliability or skill level. As well as providing training and development for the employee the HRM must also rely on the employee making use of such training in their everyday job performance. Some employees can see extra training as a hindrance, taking

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extra time and effort. This is where the HRM becomes more of a resource management in outlaying the positives and gains to be made by such training and development in terms of rewards and better productivity in the workplace. The relegation to change agent occurs through the very function of co-ordinating such development and reward performance indicators, evolving current strategies and policies to allow for changes in the staffing environment. (Caldwell, 2003) The term administrative expert refers to the re-engineering of HR activities through the use of technology, rethinking and redesigning processes with the continuous improvement of all organisational processes This again is integrated throughout the job of HRM. Puzzled HR Practitioner refers to the continued outsourcing and software related administration, yet one could really only look at this as a continued delegation of the role of HR administration and the ever evolving roles involved. A true HRM administrative expert would see the delegation of such important administration roles as a key development of change and reflect it as networking and consumer satisfaction is the ultimate result in such a key compromising of roles. The duality of change agent and administrative expert working together can only bring about continued relationships and effective performance especially if the roles are delegated to employees as a result of development and training in such areas. Robbins, Millett, Cacioppe and Waters-Marsh discuss this as the ever changing role of HRM in organisational behaviour and management as an eventual necessity in an ever changing employment environment. One can only hope to advance if they take advantage wholly of the technology, recruitment process and employee development in front of them. This includes the outsourcing of administrative roles that can be found to be more cost effective and employment engaging elsewhere. (Robbins, Millett, Cacioppe & Waters-Marsh, 1998) The following diagram looks at the implementation through the strategic HRM process and can be

Sacha Cherrington 96003919 2012


applicable to the discussion previously through the operational structure of strategy management.

Diagram removed (Source: Rudman, R: 2010 pp 16) To finish we look at Puzzled HR Practitioner and his inference to management confusion in the whole strategic HRM. Puzzled talks about how people are perceived as just another production process and how the role of the HRM is blurred into management confusion over which role the HRM actually takes. The above diagram looks at this relationship as a working relationship and if we are to look at the research and theory we can see that HRM is not essentially a part of the management structure although they do have input into what essentially relays from management to employee. (Rudman, 2010) The development of organisations as a whole does not rely on the positions of management and employee respectively, it relies on the integration of management procedures and policies and employee wants and needs. When an employer can see the employee as more than just a production process the integration begins. The integration of needs and satisfaction of employee relations into management process brings about the change agent of HRM and serves as a catalyst for changes within the organisation as a whole. Any organisation willing to succeed will bring about any changes possible, and in the current climate it is evidently possible for such things to happen. If we look at the beliefs and people management of corporate giants in New Zealand such as The Warehouse, Mad Butcher, and New Zealand Post, the vision and HRM statements say it all; an example being The New Zealand Post:

Sacha Cherrington 96003919 2012


We are a people business and strive to make New Zealand Post a great place to work, and a great organisation to work with. We recognise and respect the contribution of our people and as a team aim to maintain the highest standard in all our business dealings operating in good faith, ethically and responsibly, to build trusting, collaborative and long term relationships. (Source: Rudman, 2010: pp 21) This statement alone aligns itself with the key competencies and reliability needed to create a good management structure. Strategy tools can be put in place to ensure the recurring changes in HRM and strategic management take place, but only when the management as a whole accept and believe that their human resource is their greatest advantage in advancement. In Conclusion, Puzzled must be a part of a very structured and pushy organisation to make the claims in the Letter to the editor; otherwise the letter must stem from frustration with upper management. These issues are not an overnight fix but when coupled with theory and practice, the integration of not only strategic human resource management but the other key roles of employee champion; change agent and administrative expert; any organisation is bound to succeed on the level of evolving strategically if nothing else. Theory and practise can meet on common ground if both management and staff follow the policies and procedures implemented by the HRM department and with the end goal in mind of consumer retention and satisfaction. New Zealand Post

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References
Bartol, K., & Martin, D. (1998). Management. (3, Ed.) Boston, USA: McGraw Hill Ltd. Caldwell, R. (2003). The changing roles of personnel managers: Old ambiguities, new uncertainties. Journal of Management Studies , 983-1004. Robbins, S., Millet, B., Cacioppe, R., & Marsh, T. W. (1998). Organisational Behaviour (2 ed.). Australia: Prentice Hall. (2010). In R. Rudman, Human Management in New Zealand. North Shore, New Zealand: Pearson. (2010). Future Challenges for HR Management. In R. Rudman, Human Resources management in New Zealand. North Shore, New Zealand: Pearson. (2010). Roles and Responsibilites for HR Management. In R. Rudman, Human Resources Management in New Zealand. North Shore, New Zealand: Pearson. (2010). Strategic Human resources Management. In R. Rudman, Human Resources Management in New Zealand (5 ed.). North Shore, New Zealand: Pearson. Stone, J. (2010). Managing human resources (3 ed.). Brisbane, Australia: John Wiley.