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INTRODUCTION The concept of human resource management has evolved over the years from the basic actions

of hiring and firing. The increasing awareness in the importance of people in an organisation to the growth of that organisation has led to human resource management growing to encompass more applications which differ from organisation to organisation. At its most basic definition an organisation is a group of people deliberately structured to achieve a general objective or set out goals. These goals or objectives are differentiated by their features. Some are overt and easily recognisable, some are implied and more of a background nature. During the strategic planning an organisation measures and lays out these features for the systems and processes that will be created in line with achieving their goals. Organizations consist of a collection of systems, major systems and subsystems for example department, teams etc. Each subsystem works in conjunction with the other subsystems in attaining the general goals of the organization. Human resource management is one of the most essential subsystems in any organisation. (Mcnamara,C 2010) Human resource management in elementary terms is the management of people in an organisation and their potential. Potential encompasses knowledge, creativity, innovation, skills etc (Price.A 2011). Dessler (2010) gives a more detailed and matter-of-fact definition of human resource management as the practices and policies you need to carry out the personnel aspects of your management job. To be more specific this involves: acquiring, training, appraising, rewarding, and providing a safe and fair environment for your companies employees. The applicability of the above definition in any organisation denotes that its people are assets to be invested in and developed. Armstrong ( 2003) also categorizes people in an organization as assets in defining human resources as a tactical and logical method of managing an organizations most prized assets i.e. People working in the organization that contribute to achieving its goals. The objectives of an organisation define its strategy and the position of human resource management is to achieve the organisations objectives. Thus human resource management takes on a more strategic role aimed at using human resource systems as the root of organizational capabilities to capitalize on new opportunities through the integration of people and process in an organization and the manipulation of intangible assets such as culture, skills and competence, motivation, and social interactions. (Nayab N 2010)

The addition of strategy to human resource management connotes planning in order to meet aims and this is usually long term. Strategic human resource management combines the function of human resource management with organisational strategy. In this work I will be critically evaluating the strategic human resource management at MICROSOFT USA INCORPORATION USA. I will be exploring their strategic human resource a management, the challenges they face in implementing this strategy and my recommendations.

COMPANY OVERVIEW OF MICROSOFT INCORPORTED Microsoft is one of the most successful companies worldwide. Established in 1975 it is the one of the biggest leaders in software services and solutions. Microsofts success stems from an effective workforce .It recognises its employees as it primary intellectual source and provides various benefits and plans in a bid to retain them. (Cusumano.M, Selby.R 1995) For many Microsoft is the ideal place to work. In 2011 it won the award as the number one position in the Best Multinational Workplaces in Europe ranked by Great Places To Work For. (Emerson, R 2011) Microsoft has also won quite a few awards for innovation, their adaptation of diversity and their elastic work arrangements. The company has always led its market in its compensation policies which have again been improved since 2006 . Microsoft USA has a workforce of about 90,000 employees worldwide, and a total revenue exceeding $16.43 billion (Wilhelm, A,2011). Employees find their work personally challenging and work with cutting edge technology. Facilities are state of the art and up to date this is because the company believes in providing its employees with whatever tools and environment they need to achieve the best result possible. This work will be focusing on Microsoft Incorporated in the United States of America.

MICROSOFT USA HR STRATEGY Microsoft USA operates an anti- bureaucratic organizational structure which gives employees the freedom to take risks and grow. The performance culture model is what is successfully practiced at Microsoft USA (Chackravarthy, B 1997). A performance culture is one that up holds accountability and measurement promotes collaboration and improves performance. Progresses towards

achieving goals are tangible, goals and objectives are aligned with the organisations strategy and individuals know which results they liable for (Aziza B, Fitts J 2008). In a performance culture human resource management concentrates on increasing employee productivity by focusing more on business problems and using knowledge in people management as a toll towards solving these problems. This results in exceptional people practices developing into a continued competitive advantage (Sullivan J 2010).

RECRUITMENT & SELECTION Recruitment is attracting candidates and using various avenues to source for applicants (Armstrong 2006) while selection is sifting through applications (Armstrong M 2006) and matching applicants to the position that is to be filled (Roberts G, 2005). The recruitment strategy at Microsoft USA is usually aggressive and favours their philosophy. Initially the belief was to recruit the most intelligent students from elite schools. This meant that most recruits had no experience and this was preferred (Bartlett 2001). Microsoft USA uses avenues such as career fairs, over 300 recruiting consultants, internal recruitment, online applications and taking advantage of layoffs in the industry to find new talent (Bartlett 2001). A successful applicant is usually sent an email informing them that they have been shortlisted and invited for an interview. This initial email will contain 15 questions which range from easy to difficult depending on the position being applied for (Hurdagaci 2010). Once the applicant successfully replies with answers and confirmation of the date, Microsoft USA will reply with a scheduled time for a phone interview (Hurdagaci 2010). The phone interview is usually informal and lasts between 30- 45 minutes. If the applicant is successful at this stage he will be contacted later with a schedule for a round of face to face, on site interview day (Hurdagaci 2010). Depending on the position being applied for the interview day can consist of 4 6 rounds of interview. The selected recruits are usually grouped at the beginning then eliminations occur at every stage of the interview. This selection process focuses on problem solving skills, thought processes and composure. It tests the recruits ability to handle pressure. It explores the recruits creativity and analytical skills and little on technical abilities (Bartlett 2001) At the end of a successful interview day the last recruits will be told if they have been successfully selected and how to proceed further, this is usually done by someone that was

not part of the interviewers, usually the team manager and his decision is based on feedback from the interviewers. This makes his decision impartial. A few days later the selected recruit will receive an employment contract which will state when he will begin employment and other important information (Hurdagaci 2010). The recruitment policy at Microsoft USA is always to employ fewer people than required. This is to reiterate the belief that it is more important to employ the right people than just filing the right position. Microsoft USA also takes advantage of industry layoffs to capture talent such as the AOL layoff in 2007; Microsoft USA created a recruitment team to identify the best talents and recruit them (Wilcox J, 2007). From this process it is clear that Microsoft USA recruits and selects with the focus on the suitable type of person rather than skill level. The company uses its human capital as a competitive advantage, employing the best talent and inspiring them to be the best drives their success. It is important to note that their hiring process meets their staffing needs towards reaching their goals and objectives. Again due to the comprehensive nature of the recruitment and selection process, the success of a candidate through this process will tell if he can succeed in the organisation.

TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT CIPD (2000) defined training and development as the method of developing people by incorporating learning and development processes, operations and relationships. This results in improved organisational effectiveness in the organisation and improved personal proficiency and employability. Microsoft USA regards its employees training and development as a priority. All employees take part in business operations at the initial stages of employment. Microsoft USA uses the Learn as you go method which depends on employees learning as they do their job rather than learning and then doing the job. At the initial stages of employment employees are grouped in teams and given projects to undertake under close supervision. Microsoft USA believes in developing their employees through on the job learning, through their colleagues and formal technical training. They adopt a 70/20/10 learning and development model created by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. This model states that development usually starts by realizing a need and having the impetus to do

something about it, this is what leads to potent learning. 70% of learning is on the job, 20% is from feedback and 10% from formal education. (Lombardo,M. and Eichinger R 1996)

Fig 1. 70/20/10 learning and development model George Washington University (2008)

At Microsoft USA it is 70% learning on the job, 20% from peers or mentoring which allows employees learn from experienced professionals in and outside their respective fields and 10% in formal or technical training (Microsoft USA 2011). Employees are also required to take refresher courses and learn more in order to sustain their performance. The feedback gotten from these training exercises are very valuable. Employees are also allowed to enrol in external learning and development outside of the organisation with the option of tuition assistance or re- imbursement by Microsoft USA.

Fig.2 Statistics for learning and development taken by employees in Microsoft (Microsoft 2010)

In addition to this Microsoft developed a tool called the Career Compass. This tool allows employees plan their career paths in form of a catalogue. The Career Compass contains

employees work experience and career goals. They are able to evaluate themselves against sophisticated professional aptitude for their career level. Employees then recognise gaps and build up an inclusive career growth plan to gain the knowledge and skill to close these gaps (Microsoft 2010). This provides the management with a reference tool to identify patterns of movement within the organisation, opportunities available within the organisation to aid employees understand what they require to more or what skills and competencies they need to do that. The Career Compass also shows the trend of employees leaving the organisation. (Microsoft 2010) Again Microsoft organises mid year career discussions. This discussion is usually between an employee and his manager. It is made up of two parts, the first is to revise obligations made at the beginning of the year and the second part is discussing career goals. The manager is there to measure performance and provide direction on how to attain subsequent goals along the employees career path (Iyer,A 2009). These provisions in training and development show that Microsoft USA deem that employees are assets; and it is important that they help them to grow to make knowledgeable decisions about their careers.

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