Introduction To Human Resource Management

During the first four hundred years of industrialization, it was all about machines, which gradually replaced the human labour. They were so important that humans were not even considered a resource. Not anymore. With information revolution, internet connectivity and the age of customized services, humans are the greatest resource. That makes human resource management, by far, the most important stream of the art of managing business.
Introduction to Human Resource Management
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Human resources are by far the most important resources for any organization. Needless to say then that making the best possible use of these resources is crucial to the fate of organization, and hence once of the most important priority for the managers of that organization.

What makes Human Resource Management different ?

What makes it different from other streams of management is the fact that Human resources management or HRM cannot be defined by simple thumb rules, nor can it be taught or explained by simple theories, without a grave risk of oversimplification. It requires keen observation of human traits, sensitivity

arising from emotional intelligence, and understanding of human nature like a psychologist.

Different sub-streams of Human Resource Management

Human resources management originally began as personnel management, but today it encompasses many well defined sub-streams of functions that can be listed as under:

  1.     Workforce planning

  2.     Recruitment

  3.     Orientation & skills management

  4.     Personnel administration & compensation

  5.     Time management

  6.     Employee benefits administration & personnel cost planning

  7.     Performance appraisal

Each of these sub-streams is a more or less specialized function, yet one can say that HRM itself is more than all of these put together.

The greatest challenge of Human Resource Management

Unlike managing other resources like machines, real estate and finance, managing human beings is a totally different ball game, simply because unlike other assets, each employee has his own goal and will work first to attain that goal, even if it is at the cost of the goals of the organization. Thus, no employee can ever be made to provide his optimum output for the organization unless the goals of the organization are closely aligned with his own goals. This, in short, is the greatest challenge for all HRM experts, and in every organization, the need is to go about it in a way which is unique and specific for that organization.

Evolution of Human Resource Management

Literature on Human resources management is fairly rich in terms of academic theories. Success of Henry Ford and his Ford Motors in early twentieth century gave rise to the term 'Fordism' consisting of the theory that high corporate profitability can be achieved by high wages to the

employees. Even before Ford, Fredrick Winslow Taylor had propagated the 'scientific management theory' or 'Taylorism' wherein scientific studies of processes were believed to lead to optimum human resource utilization. These 'modernistic' theories suffered from one grave drawback - they treated human beings as homogeneous, ignoring the individual differences in them. Later academic theories, often referred to as 'post-modernism' attempted to correct this folly by admitting that human beings are complex and solutions to their problems cannot be obtained by simple thumb rules.

In recent times, the academic theory has given place to practical applications and HRM experts today specialize in resolving individual problems of the organization in a step-by-step pattern. This means focusing on one of the several human resource management processes enumerated above, beginning from recruitment and ending with performance appraisal. These days, one of their greatest challenges is managing the process of collective bargaining, or the 'contract' between employee and the organization in a way that ensures commitment of the individual towards organizational goals. Another focus of modern HRM practices is to provide the employees a clear understanding of these organizational goals.

Science or Art ?

While technology threatens to take over most functions of business management away from the experts, HRM is one field which is unlikely to be faced with this threat. It was, is and will always be an expertise that is as much of a skill as an art, and hence beyond the intelligence that our computers possess.

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