Principles in designing hrd system
Designing in integrated HRD systems requires a thorough understanding of the principles and models of human resource development and a diagnosis of the organisation culture, existing HRD practices in the organisation, employee perceptions of these practices, and the developmental climate within the organisation. The following principles related to focus, structure, and functioning should be considered when designing integrated HRD systems.
Focus of the System
a) Focus on enabling capabilities: The primary purpose of HRD is to help the organisation to increase its “enabling” capabilities. These include development of human resources, development of organisational health, improvement of problem solving capabilities, development of diagnostic ability (so that problems can be located quickly and effectively), and increased employee productivity and commitment.
b) Balancing adaptation and change in the organisational culture: Although HRD systems are designed to suit the organisational culture, the role of HRD may be to modify that culture to increase the effectiveness of the organisation. There always has been a controversy between those who believe that HRD should be designed to suit the culture and those who believe that HRD should be able to change the culture. Both positions seem to be extreme. HRD should take the organisation forward, and this can be done only if its design anticipates change and evolution in the future.
c) Attention to contextual factors: What is to be included in the HRD systems, how is it to be sub-divided, what designations and titles will be used, and similar issues should be settled after consideration of the various contextual factors of the organisation—its culture and tradition, size, technology, levels of existing skills, available support for the function, availability of outside help and so on.
d) Building linkages with other functions: Human resource development systems should be designed to strengthen other functions in the company such as long-range corporate planning, budgeting and finance, marketing, production, and other similar functions. These linkages are extremely important.
e) Balancing specialisation and diffusion of the function: Although HRD involves specialised functions, line people should be involved in various aspects of HRD. Action is the sole responsibility of the line people, and HRD should strengthen their roles.
Structure of the System
a) Establishing the identity of HRD: It is important that the distinct identity of HRD be recognised. The person in charge of HRD should have responsibility for this function exclusively and should not be expected to do it in addition to any other function. Multiple responsibilites produce several kinds of conflict. This person should report directly to the chief executive of the organisation.
b) Ensuring respectability for the function: In many companies, the personnel function does not have much credibility because it is not perceived as a major function within the organisation. It is necessary that HRD be instituted at a very high level in the organisation and that the head of the HRD department be classified as a senior manager. Both the credibility and usefulness of HRD depend on this.
c) Balancing differentiation and integration: The human resource development function often includes personnel administration, human resource development and training, and industrial relations. These three functions have distinct identities and requirements and should be differentiated witin the HRD department. One person may be responsible for OD, another for training, another for potential appraisal and assessment, etc. At the same time, these roles should be integrated through a variety of mechanisms. For example, inputs from manpower planning should be available to line managers for career planning and HRD units for potential appraisal and development. Data from recruitment should be fed into the human resources information system. If salary administration and placement are handled separately, they should be linked to performance appraisals. Differentiation as well as integration mechanisms are essential if the HRD system is to function well.
d) Establishing linkage mechanisms: HRD has linkages with outside systems as well as with internal sub-systems. It is wise to establish specific linkages to be used to manage the system. Standing committees for various purposes (with membership from various parts and levels of the organisation), task groups, and ad hoc committees for specific tasks are useful mechanisms.
e) Developing monitoring mechanisms: The HRD function is always evolving. It therefore requires systematic monitoring to review the progress and level of effectiveness of the system and to plan for its next step. A thorough annual review reappraisal every three years will be invaluable in reviewing and planning the system. It may be helpful to include persons from other functions in the organisation in the HRD assessment effort.
Functioning of the System
a) Building feedback and reinforcing mechanisms: The various sub-systems within HRD should provide feedback to one another. Systematic feedback loops should be designed for this purpose. For example, performance and potential appraisals provide necessary information for training and OD, and OD programmes provide information for work redesign.
b) Balancing quantitative and qualitative decisions: Many aspects of HRD, such as performance and potential appraisals, are difficult to quantify. Of course attempts should be made to quantify many variables and to design computer storage of various types of information, but qualitative and insightful decisions are also necessary and desirable. For example, in considering people for promotions, quantitative data are necessary inputs, but other factors must also be taken into consideration. Thus a balance between the mechanical and the human factors is necessary.
c) Balancing internal and external expertise: A human resource development system requires the development of internal expertise and resources, specifically in content areas that are used frequently within the organisation. For expertise that is required only occasionally, the use of external resources or consultants may be the most feasible. It is necessary to plan for an economical and workable balance between the two. It is preferable to use internal personnel to conduct training; however, an organisation that uses only in-house expertise may not benefit from new thinking in the field. On the other hand, a company that relies solely on external HRD help does not develop the internal resources that are necessary for effective functioning.
d) Planning for the evolution of HRD: Various aspects of HRD can be introduced into the organisation in stages, depending on its needs, size and level of sophistication. Some aspects may require a great deal of preparation. Rushing the introduction of an aspect of HRD may limit its effectiveness. Each stage should be planned carefully, with sequenced phases built one over the other. This may include:
i) Geographical phasing introducing the system in a few parts of the organisation and slowly spreading it to other parts. This may be necessary in a large or widely located organisation.
ii) Vertical phasing introducing the system at one or a few levels in the organisation and expanding up or down gradually.
iii) Functional phasing introducing one function or sub-system, followed by other functions. For example, introducing job specifications (identification of critical attributes of jobs) before introducing a complete potential-appraisal system.
iv) Sophistication phasing introducing simple forms of sub-systems, followed after some time by more sophisticated forms.