Human Resource Management

  • Post last modified:12 May 2023
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What is Human Resource Management?

Human resource management is the planning, organising, directing and controlling of the procurement, development, compensation, integration, maintenance and reproduction of human resources to the end that individual, organisational and societal objectives are accomplished.

Definitions of HRM

Human resource management is the planning, organising, directing and controlling of the procurement, development, compensation, integration, maintenance and reproduction of human resources to the end that individual, organisational and societal objectives are accomplished.<span class="su-quote-cite">Flippo </span>
The management of human resources is viewed as a system in which participants seeks to attain both individual and group goals.<span class="su-quote-cite">Dale Yoder</span>
Human resource management encompasses those activities designed to provide for and co-ordinate the human resources of an organisation.<span class="su-quote-cite">Byars and Rue</span>

Features of HRM

Human resource management (HRM) is the strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organisation‘s most valued assets the people working there, who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement and objectives of the business.

The terms human resource management and human resources‖ (HR) have largely replaced the term personnel management‖ as a description of the processes involved in managing people in organisations. Human Resource management is evolving rapidly.

On the analysis of definitions of human resource management, the following features of HRM can be identified.

People Oriented – Human resource management is concerned with employees both as individuals and as a group in attaining goals. It is also concerned with behavioural, emotional and social aspects.

Individual Oriented – Human resource management, it is concerned with the development of human resources such as skill, knowledge, capability and potentialities for attaining and achieving employee goals.

Continuous Function – Human resource management is a continuous and never-ending process.

A Staff Function – Human resource management is a responsibility of all line managers and a function of staff managers in an organisation.

Pervasive Function – Human resource management is the central subfunction of an organisation and it pervades all types of functional management viz., production management, marketing management and financial management.

Challenging Function – Managing of human resources is a challenging job due to the dynamic nature-of people. Human resource management aims at securing unreserved co-operation from all employees in order to attain predetermined goals.

Development Oriented – Human resource management is concerned with developing the potential of employees, so that they derive maximum satisfaction from their work and gives their best efforts to the Organisation.

The theoretical discipline of HRM is based primarily on the assumption that employees are individuals with varying goals and needs. The field takes a positive view of the workers, assuming that virtually all wish to contribute to the enterprise productively.

Academic Theory

The goal of human resource management is to help an organisation to meet strategic goals, by attracting and maintaining employees and also to manage them effectively. The basic premise of the academic theory of HRM is that humans are not machines; therefore we need to have an interdisciplinary examination of people in the workplace.

One widely used scheme to describe the role of HRM,developed by Dave Ulrich, defines 4 fields for the HRM function as strategic business partner, change agent, employee champion, administration.

However, many HR functions these days struggle to get beyond the roles of administration and employee champion and are seen rather as reactive as strategically proactive partners for the top management.

In addition, HR Organisations also have the difficulty in proving how their activities and processes add value to the company. Only in the recent years, HR scholars and HR professionals are focusing to develop models that can measure if HR adds value.

Critical Academic Theory

Postmodernism plays an important part in Academic Theory and particularly in Critical Theory. In many ways, critically or not, many writers contend that HRM itself is an attempt to move away from the modernist traditions of personnel (man as machine) towards a postmodernist view of HRM (man as individuals).

Critiques include the notion that because Human‘ is the subject, we should recognize that people are complex and that it is only through various discourses that we understand the world. Man is not Machine, no matter what attempts are made to change it i.e.

Modernism. Critical Theory also questions whether HRM is the pursuit of attitudinal shaping (Wilkinson 1998), particularly when considering empowerment or perhaps more precisely pseudo-empowerment – as the critical perspective notes.

Many critics note the move away from Man as Machine is often in many ways, more a Linguistic (discursive) move away than a real attempt to recognize the Human in Human Resource Management.

HRM in Business Practice

Human resources management comprises several processes. Together they are supposed to achieve the above mentioned goal.

These processes can be performed in an HR department are workforce planning, recruitment, induction and orientation, skills management, training and development, personnel administration, compensation in wage or salary ,time management ,travel management ,payroll, employee benefits administration, personnel cost planning and performance appraisal.

Careers and Professional Organisations related to HRM

The sort of careers available in HRM varies. There are careers involved with employment, recruitment and placement and these are usually conducted by interviewers, EOE (Equal Opportunity Employment) specialists or college recruiters. Training and development specialism is often conducted by trainers and orientation specialists.

Compensation and benefits tasks are handled by compensation analysts, salary administrators and benefits administrators. Professional Organisation in HRM includes the Society for Human Resource Management, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the International Public Management Association for HR (IPMA-HR) and the International Personnel Management Association of Canada (IPMACanada).Management Association of Nepal [MAN].

Process of HRM

HRM process consists of four functions: Acquisition of human resources, Development of human resources, Motivation of human resource and Maintenance of human resources.

Acquisition Function

Acquisition process is the securing and employing of people, possessing required kind and level of skills necessary to achieve the Organisational objectives. The acquisition function begins with planning.

It also covers other functions such as job analysis, human resource planning, recruitment, selection, placement, induction and internal mobility.

Development Function

Development function is the process of improving, moulding and changing the skills, knowledge, artistic ability, aptitude and values of the employees. The development function can be viewed along three dimensions:-

  • Employee Training – Training is the procedure of imparting the employees with information on operating and technical skills. It also includes the changing of attitudes amid workers.

  • Management Development – Management development is primarily concerned with knowledge acquisition and the enhancement of an executive‘s abstract abilities. It is the process of designing and conducting suitable executive development programmes so as to develop the managerial and human relations skills of employees.

  • Career Development – Career development is the repeated effort to match long-term individual and Organisational needs. When human resources have been developed efficiently, one can expect to have competent employees with up-to-date skills and knowledge.

Motivation Function

The motivation function begins with the recognition that individuals are unique and that motivation techniques used must reflect the needs of each individual.

It is an area of management that deals with integrating people into work situation in a way that motivates them to work together productively, cooperatively and with economic, psychological and social satisfaction.

Maintenance Function

The maintenance function is concerned with providing those working conditions that employees believe are necessary in order to maintain their commitment to the organisation.

The objective of the maintenance function is to retain people who are performing at high levels. This includes provision of safe and healthy working conditions along with satisfactory labour relations.

Training and Development

Management development is a systematic process of growth and development by which managers develop their abilities to manage. It is a planned effort to improve current or future managerial performance.

The companies are business units, where profit making is the basic necessity to survive in the field. Employees are the back bones of these companies and they are supposed to possess the best technical skills. In addition to the proficiency of work, employees have to work with devotion, professionalism and happiness.

They should know how to cooperate with the other employees and build up a team spirit. Employee training is a specialised function and is one of the fundamental operative functions of human resource management.

Corporate are functioning in a competitive market and to survive, they should give importance to corporate training. Previously organisations were not considering training as an important part of their functional world. Only some companies were using technical training, because without technical training the employees could not start their work.

But, at the same time they did not give importance to behavioural training, since they considered behavioural training as not so cost effective. As per the modern techniques of operations Management standardisation of work procedure and stabilisation of work is essential to avoid errors. It is necessary to provide training on the standardised work process to the employees.

Organisation Development

Organisation development is the process through which an organisation develops the internal capacity efficiently and effectively to endow with its mission and to sustain itself over the long term.

This definition highlights the explicit connection between organisational development work and the achievement of organisational mission. This connection is the rationale for doing OD work.

Organisational development, according to Richard Beck Hard, is defined as a planned effort, organisation-wide, managed from the top, to increase organisation effectiveness and health, through planned interventions in the organisation‘s processes‘, using behavioral science knowledge‘.

The term Organisation Development is often used interchangeably with organisational effectiveness, especially when used as the name of a department or a part of the Human Resources function within an organisation.

Organisation Development is a growing field that is responsive to many new approaches including Positive Adult Development.


At the core of OD is the concept of an organisation, defined as two or more people working together toward one or more shared goals. Development in this context is the notion that an organisation may become more effective over time at achieving its goals.

According to Warren Bennis, Organisation development (OD) is a complex strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values and structure of organisations so that they can better adapt to new technologies, markets and challenges.

OD is a long range effort to improve organisation‘s problem solving and renewal processes, particularly through more effective and collaborative management of organisational culture, often with the assistance of a change agent or catalyst and the use of the theory and technology of applied behavioral science.

Change agent and Sponsoring Organisation

Although neither the sponsoring organisation nor the change agent can be sure at the outset of the exact nature of the problem or problems to be dealt with or how long the change agent‘s help will be needed; it is essential that some tentative agreement on these matters be reached.

The sponsoring organisation needs to know generally about the change agent‘s preliminary plan, its own commitments in relation to personal commitments. Moreover it should be aware its level of responsibility for the program and what will be the change agent‘s fee.

The change agent must assure himself that the organisation‘s and particularly the top executives‘, commitment to change is strong enough to support the kind of self-analysis and personal involvement requisite to success of the program. Recognizing the uncertainties lying ahead on both sides, a termination agreement permitting either side to withdraw at any time is usually included.

Change Agent

A change agent in the sense used here is not a technical expert skilled in such functional areas as accounting, production or finance. He is a behavioral scientist who knows how to get people in an organisation involved in solving their own problems.

His main strength is a comprehensive knowledge of human behavior, supported by a number of intervention techniques (to be discussed later). The change agent can be either external or internal to the organisation.

An internal change agent is usually a staff person who has expertise in the behavioral sciences and in the intervention technology of OD. The change agent may be a staff or line member of the organisation who is schooled in OD theory and technique. In such a case, the contractual relationship is an in-house agreement that should probably be explicit with respect to all of the conditions involved except the fee.

Sponsoring Organisation

The initiative for an OD program comes from an organisation that has a problem. This means that top management or someone authorised by top management is aware that a problem exists and has decided to seek help in solving it.

There is a direct analogy here to the practice of psychotherapy – The client or patient must actively seek help in finding a solution to his problems. This indicates a willingness on the part of the client organisation to accept help and assures the organisation that management is actively concerned.

Applied Behavioral Science

One of the outstanding characteristics of OD that distinguishes it from most other improvement programs is that it is based on a helping relationship. The change agent is not a physician to the organisation‘s ills; he does not examine the patient, make a diagnosis and write a prescription. Nor does he try to teach organisational members a new inventory of knowledge, which they then transfer to the job situation.

Systems Context – OD deals with a total system the organisation as a whole, including its relevant environment or with a subsystem or systems departments or work groups in the context of the total system.

Parts of systems, for example, individuals, cliques, structures, norms, values and products are not considered in isolation; the principle of interdependency, that is, that change in one part of a system affects the other parts, is fully recognized. Thus, OD interventions focus on the total culture and cultural processes of organisations.

The focus is also on groups, since the relevant behavior of individuals in organisations and groups is generally a product of group influences rather than personality. Improved Organisational Performance -The objective of OD is to improve the organisation‘s capacity to handle its internal and external functioning and relationships.

This would include such things as improved interpersonal and group processes, more effective communication, enhanced ability to cope with organisational problems of all kinds, more effective decision processes, more appropriate leadership style, improved skill in dealing with destructive conflict and higher levels of trust and cooperation among organisational members.

Organisational Self-Renewal – The ultimate aim of the outside OD practitioner is to work himself out of a job‖ by leaving the client organisation with a set of tools, behaviors, attitudes and an action plan with which to monitor its own state of health and to take corrective steps toward its own renewal and development. This is consistent with the systems concept of feedback as a regulatory and corrective mechanism.


Early Development

is known today. As early as World War II, Lewin experimented with a collaborative change process (involving himself as consultant and a client group) based on a three-step process of planning, taking action and measuring results.

This was the forerunner of action research, an important element of OD, which will be discussed later. Lewin then participated in the beginnings of laboratory training or T-groups and, after his death in 1947, his close associates helped to develop survey-research methods at the University of Michigan.

These procedures became important parts of OD as developments in this field continued at the National Training Laboratories and in growing numbers of universities and private consulting firms across the country.

The failure of off-site laboratory training to live up to its early promise was one of the important forces stimulating the development of OD. Laboratory training is learning from a person‘s here and now experience as a member of an ongoing training group. Such groups usually meet without a specific agenda.

Their purpose is for the members to learn about themselves from their spontaneous here and now responses to an ambiguous hypothetical situation. Problems of leadership, structure, status, communication and self-serving behavior typically arise in such a group.

The members have an opportunity to learn something about themselves and to practice such skills as listening, observing others and functioning as effective group members.

Modern Development

In recent years, serious questioning has emerged about the relevance of OD to managing change in modern organisations. The need for reinventing‖ the field has become a topic that even some of its founding fathers‖ are discussing critically.

Action Research

Wendell L French and Cecil Bell define organisation development (OD) at one point as Organisation improvement through action research. If one idea can be said to summarize OD‘s underlying philosophy, it would be action research as it was conceptualized by Kurt Lewin and later elaborated and expanded on by other behavioral scientists.

Concerned with social change and, more particularly, with effective, permanent social change, Lewin believed that the motivation to change was strongly related to action – If people are active in decisions affecting them, they are more likely to adopt new ways. Rational social management, he said, proceeds in a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action and fact-finding about the result of action‖.

Lewin‘s description of the process of change involves three steps –

  • Unfreezing – Faced with a dilemma or disconfirmation, the individual or group becomes aware of a need to change.

  • Changing – The situation is diagnosed and new models of behavior are explored and tested.

  • Refreezing – Application of new behavior is evaluated and, if reinforcing, adopted.
 Systems Model of Action-Research Process
Systems Model of Action-Research Process

Figure summarizes the steps and processes involved in planned change through action research, Action research is depicted as a cyclical process of change. The cycle begins with a series of planning actions initiated by the client and the change agent working together.

The principal elements of this stage include a preliminary diagnosis, data gathering, feedback of results and joint action planning. In the language of systems theory, this is the input phase, in which the client system becomes aware of problems yet unidentified, realises it may need outside help to effect changes and shares with the consultant the process of problem diagnosis.

The third stage of action research is the output or results, phase. This stage includes actual changes in behavior (if any) resulting from corrective action steps taken following the second stage. Data are again gathered from the client system so that progress can be determined and necessary adjustments in learning activities can be made. Minor adjustments of this nature can be made in learning activities via Feedback Loop B. Major adjustments and reevaluations would return the OD project to the first or planning, stage for basic changes in the program.

The action-research model closely follows Lewin‘s repetitive cycle of planning, action and measuring results. It also illustrates other aspects of Lewin‘s general model of change. As indicated in the diagram, the planning stage is a period of unfreezing or problem awareness. The action stage is a period of changing that is, trying out new forms of behavior in an effort to understand and cope with the system‘s problems. (There is inevitable overlap between the stages, since the boundaries are not clear-cut and cannot be in a continuous process).

The results stage is a period of refreezing, in which new behaviors are tried out on the job and if successful reinforcing becomes a part of the system‘s repertoire of problem-solving behavior. Action research is problem centered, client centered and action oriented. It involves the client system in a diagnostic, active-learning, problem-finding and problem-solving process.

Organisation/Job Design

Organisation design deals with structural aspects of organisations. It aims at analysing roles and relationships so that collective effort can be explicitly organised to achieve specific ends.

The design process leads to development of an organisation structure consisting of units and positions. There are relationships involving exercise of authority and exchange of information between these units and positions.

Michael Armstrong has defined job design as the process of deciding on the content of a job in terms of its duties and responsibilities; on the methods to be used in carrying out the job, in terms of techniques, systems and procedures and on the relationships that should exist between the job holder and his superiors, subordinates and colleagues.

Thus, job design is the process of determining the specific tasks and responsibilities to be carried out by each member of the organisation. It has many implications for human resources management. Both the content and one‘s job and the ability to influence content and level of performance affect a person‘s motivation and job satisfaction.

Organisational Design

A process for improving Organisational success

More specifically, Organisation Design is a formal, guided process for integrating the people, information and technology of an organisation. It is used to match the form of the organisation as closely as possible to the purpose(s) the organisation seeks to achieve. Through the design process, organisations act to improve the probability that the collective efforts of members will be successful.

Typically, design is approached as an internal change under the guidance of an external facilitator. Managers and members work together to define the needs of the organisation then create systems to meet those needs most effectively. The facilitator assures that a systematic process is followed and encourages creative thinking.

Hierarchical Systems

Western organisations have been heavily influenced by the command and control structure, of ancient military organisations and by the turn of the century introduction of Scientific Management. Most organisations today are designed as a bureaucracy in whom authority and responsibility are arranged in a hierarchy.

Within the hierarchy, rules, policies and procedures are uniformly and impersonally applied to exert control over member behaviours. Activity is organised within sub-units (bureaus or departments) in which people perform specialised functions such as manufacturing, sales or accounting. People who perform similar tasks are clustered together.

The same basic organisational form is assumed to be appropriate for any organisation, be it a government, school, business, church or fraternity. It is familiar, predictable and rational. It is what comes immediately to mind when we discover that we really have to get organised.

Organising on Purpose

The purpose for which a group exists should be the foundation for everything its members do, including the choice of an appropriate way to organise. The idea is to create a way of organising that best suits the purpose to be accomplished, regardless of the way in which other, dissimilar groups are organised.

Only when there are close similarities in desired outcomes, culture and methods should the basic form of one organisation is applied to another. To optimise effectiveness, the form of organisation must be matched to the purpose it seeks to achieve.

The Design Process

Organisation design begins with the creation of a strategy a set of decision guidelines by which members will choose appropriate actions. The strategy is derived from clear, concise statements of purpose and vision and from the organisation‘s basic philosophy.

Organisation structure defines the formal relationships among people and specifies both their roles and their responsibilities. Administrative systems govern the organisation through guidelines, procedures and policies.

Information and technology define the process through which members achieve outcomes. Each element must support each of the others and together they must support the organisation‘s purpose.

Exercising the choice

People choose to organise when they recognise that by acting alone they are limited to their abilities to achieve. We sense that by acting in concert we may overcome our individual limitations.

When we organise we seek to direct or pattern, the activities of a group of people towards a common outcome. How this pattern is designed and implemented greatly influences effectiveness.

Patterns of activity that are complementary and interdependent are more likely to result in the achievement of intended outcomes. In contrast, activity patterns that are unrelated and independent are more likely to produce unpredictable and often unintended results. The process of organisation design should match the people, information and technology to the purpose, vision and strategy of the organisation.

Factors Affecting the Job Design

Job design is affected by organisational, environmental and behavioral factors. A properly designed job will make it more productive and satisfying. If a job fails on this count, it must be redesigned based on the feedback. The various factors affecting job design are the following.

Organisational Factors

Organisational factors include characteristics of task, work flow, ergonomics and work practices. Job design requires the assembly of a number of tasks into a job or a group of jobs. An individual may carry out one main task, which consists of a number of inter-related elements or functions.

On the other hand, task functions may be split between a team, working closely together or strung along an assembly line. In more complex jobs, individuals may carry out a variety of connected tasks each with a number of functions or these tasks may be allocated to a group of workers or divided between them.

The internal structure of each task consists of three elements Planning, Executing and Controlling.

Work Flow – The flow of work in an organisation is strongly influenced by the nature of the product or service. The product or service usually suggests the sequence and balance between jobs, if the work is to be done efficiently. After the sequence of jobs is determined, the balance between the jobs is established.

Maynard Operating Sequence Technique (MOST)

A new technique has now emerged which, if introduced, could drastically alter the work practices. Called the MOST (Maynard Operating Sequence Technique), the technique uses a standard formula to list the motion sequence ascribed in index values.

  • Environmental Factors – Environmental factors affect the job design. These factors that have a bearing on job design are employees abilities and availability and social and culture expectations.

  • Employee Abilities and Availability – Efficiency consideration must be balanced against the abilities and availability of the people to do the work. When Henry Ford made use of the assembly line, for example, he was aware that most potential workers lacked any automobile making experience.
    So, jobs were designed to be simple and required little training. Therefore, considerable thought must be given, as to who will actually do the work.

  • Social and Cultural Expectations – During the earlier days, securing a job was the primary consideration. The worker was prepared to work on any job and under any working conditions. Now, it is not the same. Literacy, knowledge and awareness of workers have improved considerably. So also, their expectations from the job, Hence, jobs should be designed to meet the expectations of workers.

  • Behavioral Factors – Behavioral factors include feedback, autonomy, use of abilities and variety.


What is Human Resource Management?

Human resource management is the planning, organising, directing and controlling of the procurement, development, compensation, integration, maintenance and reproduction of human resources to the end that individual, organisational and societal objectives are accomplished.

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