Management MCO101 – Unit 7 – HRM as a Function

All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality – Martin Luther King Jr.

'Rosie' shows that a women can perform a man's role in the factory

'Rosie' shows that a women can perform a man's role in the factory

During World War II, America’s human resources were stretched to the limits. But somebody had to run the factories back home. The only resource left at home . . . women. And they not only manned the factories, they flew the planes to the front for the troops. “Rosie the Riveter” symbolized the efforts of women at work during the war. What you may not know are that many of the productivity improvements made by American factories occurred during the era of “women in the workplace.” Hydraulics, robotics and other technologies got their start because improvements were needed to assist women in lifting, moving and operating heavy equipment. Everyone benefited from these changes, especially the men who returned after the war.

North Vietnamese Women Making Fighter Planes during the Vietnam War

North Vietnamese Women Making Fighter Planes during the Vietnam War

Back in 1943, Transportation Magazine published 11 tips for (male) managers on how to handle the new, necessary influx of lady employees in the workplace. Here are some of the most vital tips:

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they’re less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn’t be doing it.

3. General experience indicates that ‘husky’ girls—those who are just a little on the heavy side—are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination—one covering female conditions. This step…reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

What kind of HRM issues are affected by, or raised by:

Hierarchical Organisation – issues for HRM

We have discussed that in organizations, there are typically three levels of management: top-level, middle-level, and first-level.

These three main levels of managers form a hierarchy, in which they are ranked in order of importance.

In most organizations, the number of managers at each level is such that the hierarchy resembles a pyramid, with many more first-level managers, fewer middle managers, and the fewest managers at the top level.

Each of these management levels is described below in terms of their possible job titles and their primary responsibilities and the paths taken to hold these positions. Additionally, there are differences across the management levels as to what types of management tasks each does and the roles that they take in their jobs. Finally, there are a number of changes that are occurring in many organizations that are changing the management hierarchies in them, such as the increasing use of teams, the prevalence of outsourcing, and the flattening of organizational structures.

The traditional hierarchical structure clearly defines each employee’s role within the organisation and defines the nature of their relationship with other employees. Hierarchical organisations are often tall with narrow spans of control, which gets wider as we move down the structure. They are often centralised with the most important decisions being taken by senior management.

In a hierarchical organisation employees are ranked at various levels within the organisation, each level is one above the other. At each stage in the chain, one person has a number of workers directly under them, within their span of control. A tall hierarchical organisation has many levels and a flat hierarchical organisation will only have a few.

The chain of command (i.e. the way authority is organized) is a typical pyramid shape.

Organisational chart showing heirarchy

Organisational chart showing heirarchy

In the twentieth century as organisations grow bigger, hierarchical organisations were popular because they could ensure command and control of the organisation. However with the advent of globalisation and widespread use of technology, in the 1990’s tall hierarchical organisations began to downsize and reduce their workforce. Technology was able to carry out many of the functions previously carried out by humans.

Management Heirarchies

Management Heirarchies

In a hierarchical management structure, a line manager is he or she who holds authority over a vertical line or chain of command. Line managers are responsible for meeting corporate objectives in a specific functional area, such as sales or finance. HRM is the function within an organization that focuses on recruitment of, management of, and providing direction for the people who work in the organization. Human Resource Management can also be performed by line managers. Human Resources (HR) provides significant support and advice to line management. HRM’s importance has grown dramatically in the last two decades. This new importance stems from:

The attraction, preservation and development of high caliber people are a source of competitive advantage for our business, and are the responsibility of HR.

HR is the organizational function that deals with issues related to people such as compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training. As a a field it is allied to organizational behavior, industrial/organizational psychology, and labor relations. Its subject areas include, but are not limited to, personnel selection, compensation, performance appraisal, attraction and retention, training and development, human resource applications of computer technology, and human resource planning.

Look at the line management role, the kind of change we want to see is:

* Getting from being managed to managing
* Each person’s unique qualities and strengths
* Unspoken line management responsibilities
* Increased confidence in the line management arena
* Examine the nature of authority and responsibility
* The change process and the emotions it generates
* Motivation and how to motivate and inspire others
* Performance management and feedback skills
* Dealing with difficult situations including conflict
* Practical tools and techniques for effective delegation
* Trust relationships and their role in the workplace

Why do things change in human resources management?

A list of possible change agents exist in the firm that spurn the need for new staff. or changes to policy and procedures regarding staff. They include:

The goal of HRM

The goal of human resource management is to help an organization to meet strategic goals by attracting, and maintaining employees and also to manage them effectively. The key word here perhaps is “fit”, i.e. a HRM approach seeks to ensure a fit between the management of an organization’s employees, and the overall strategic direction of the company (Miller, 1989).

Thwe HRM process

Thwe HRM process


American companies must now operate in a rapidly changing business environment. These changes have important implications for HRM practices. To ensure that management practices support business needs, organizations must continually monitor changing environmental conditions and devise HRM strategies for dealing with them. The procedure used to tie human resource issues to the organization’s business needs is called human resource planning. Also known as HR planning, this procedure is defined as the “process of identifying and responding to [organizational needs] … and charting new policies, systems, and programs that will assure effective human resource management under changing conditions.”

The purposes of HR planning are to enable organizations to anticipate their future HRM needs and to identify practices that will help them to meet those needs. HR planning may be done on a short- or long-term (three or more years) basis. Its aim is to ensure that people will be available with the appropriate characteristics and skills when and where the organization needs them. The use of HR planning enables companies to gain control of their future by preparing for likely events. That is, they can anticipate change and devise appropriate courses of action. When companies learn how to capitalize on future events, their own future improves.

As valuable as HR planning is, many companies ignore this opportunity. Some see it as too difficult and frustrating, while others simply do not see the need for it. However, when failing to properly plan for their human resources, employers are forced to respond to events after they occur, rather than before; they become reactive, rather than proactive. When this outcome occurs, an organization may be unable to correctly anticipate an increase in its future demand for personnel. At best, such a company would be forced to recruit personnel at the last minute and may fail to find the best candidates. At worst, the company may become seriously understaffed.


Combining the results of the supply and demand forecasts within each job group derives specific staffing needs. For example, consider a firm that currently employs twenty-five secretaries. As the result of its supply forecast, the firm predicts that five of these secretarial positions will become vacant by the end of the planning period because of retirements, promotions, and so forth. Its demand forecast predicts that three new secretarial positions will be needed during the coming period because of an increased demand for the company’s product. By combining these two estimates, the firm now realizes that it must hire eight new secretaries (five to replace those expected to vacate their positions, plus three to fill the newly created positions).


When the HR planning process is completed, a firm must establish and implement HRM practices in order to meet its human resource needs. Following is a brief overview of how HRM practices can help organizations to deal with anticipated oversupplies and undersupplies of personnel.

The trend toward organizational restructuring usually results in a smaller workforce. Therefore, when an organization’s strategic plan calls for restructuring, the HRM response usually is one of downsizing. Downsizing usually results in layoffs. Because of the negative outcomes that are often associated with layoffs, employers are encouraged to seek alternatives, such as hiring freezes, early retirements, restricted overtime, job sharing, and pay reductions.

When the results of demand and supply forecasting project an undersupply of personnel at some future point in time, the organization must decide how to resolve this problem. The solution may involve hiring additional staff, but there are other options. When HR plans indicate an undersupply of employees, firms can recruit personnel to staff jobs with anticipated vacancies. HRMS packages provide employers with capabilities to carry out recruitment in all of its steps. The first step is to conduct a job analysis to determine the qualifications needed for each vacant job.

The next step is to determine where and how to recruit the needed individuals. For instance, a company must decide whether to fill its vacancies externally (i.e., from the external labor market) or internally (i.e., from its own current workforce). When recruiting externally, an organization should first assess its attractiveness in the eyes of potential applicants; unattractive employers may have trouble generating a sufficiently large applicant pool. Such employers should attempt to increase the number of people who are attracted to the organization and thus interested in applying for a job there. This may be accomplished by increasing starting pay levels and/or improving benefit packages. Another option is to target certain protected groups whose members may be underemployed in the local labor market, such as older, disabled, or foreign-born individuals.

Internal recruitment efforts can be improved through the use of career development programs. When designing such a program, the organization should collect work history and skill level information on each of its employees. Such information would include age, education level, training, special skills (e.g., foreign language spoken), and promotion record, and should be stored on a computer. This employee information allows the organization to identify current employees who are qualified to assume jobs with greater responsibility levels. For instance, in departments where skilled managers are in short supply, a management replacement chart can be prepared that lists present managers, proposes likely replacements, and gives an estimate of when the replacement candidate will be trained and available to fill an open position.

Instead of hiring new workers to meet increasing demands, an organization may decide to improve the productivity of the existing workforce through additional training. Other options include the use of overtime, additional shifts, job reassignments, and temporary workers. Another option is to improve retention rates. When this aim is met, firms will have fewer job vacancies to fill.

Retention rates can be improved at the outset of the employer/employee relationship, when applicants are first recruited. Retention rates are likely to improve when applicants are given a realistic preview of what their jobs would actually be like (warts and all), rather than an overly glowing one.

Workers want to feel valued and needed by their organization. In a climate characterized by mergers, acquisitions, and layoffs, many workers feel very insecure about their jobs. Employees with such feelings often begin shopping around for other jobs. These fears can be eased by implementing HR plans for training and cross-training. Such plans allow workers to perform a variety of functions, thus ensuring that they have the necessary skills to continue making contributions to the firm. Management training also is crucial in this regard. Organizations must train managers to be good supervisors. Poor “people management” is a primary cause of voluntary turnover. Managers at all levels should know what is expected of them, in terms of managing people instead of just managing budgets.

Companies also can improve retention rates by creating a work environment that encourages employees to participate actively in the company’s total welfare. Workers want recognition for their contributions to organizational progress, but this recognition must be tailored to the workers’ individual needs. While some workers may be motivated by monetary rewards, others seek recognition by peers and managers, feelings of accomplishment, or job satisfaction.

Workers now demand more flexible schedules to best fit their lifestyles. Organizations can improve retention rates by implementing programs to accommodate these needs, such as job sharing, shortened workweeks, and telecommuting via computer and modem.

Finally, companies also can improve retention rates by offering attractive benefit packages, such as generous retirement plans, stock ownership, health and dental insurance, and employee discount programs. Many firms are now offering “cafeteria plan” benefit packages, which are tailored to the specific needs of each of their employees.

Human Resource Information systems

Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS, EHRMS), Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS), HR Technology or also called HR modules, shape an intersection in between human resource management (HRM) and information technology. They are a system that lets you keep track of all your employees and information about them. It is usually done in a database or, more often, in a series of inter-related databases.

HRIS systems include the employee name and contact information and all or some of the following:

HRIS include reporting capabilities. Some HRIS track applicants before they become employees. Some HRIS systems are interfaced to payroll or other financial systems.

Forecasting in HRM paper here.


An interview is a conversation between two or more people (the interviewer and the interviewee) where questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain information from the interviewee.

Interviews are particularly useful for getting the story behind a participant’s experiences. The interviewer can pursue in-depth information around a topic. Interviews may be useful as follow-up to certain respondents to questionnaires, e.g., to further investigate their responses. Usually open-ended questions are asked during interviews.

Before you start to design your interview questions and process, clearly articulate to yourself what problem or need is to be addressed using the information to be gathered by the interviews. This helps you keep clear focus on the intent of each question.

Preparation for Interview

Types of Interviews

Types of Topics in Questions

Patton notes six kinds of questions. One can ask questions about:

Note that the above questions can be asked in terms of past, present or future.

Sequence of Questions

Wording of Questions

Conducting Interview

Immediately After Interview

Job Interview Questions and Best Answers a site on this here.


The term training refers to the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies.

In addition to the basic training required for a trade, occupation or profession, observers of the labor-market[who?] recognise today the need to continue training beyond initial qualifications: to maintain, upgrade and update skills throughout working life. People within many professions and occupations may refer to this sort of training as professional development.

Some commentators use a similar term for workplace learning to improve performance: training and development. One can generally categorize such training as on-the-job or off-the-job:

* On-the-job training takes place in a normal working situation, using the actual tools, equipment, documents or materials that trainees will use when fully trained. On-the-job training has a general reputation as most effective for vocational work.
* Off-the-job training takes place away from normal work situations — implying that the employee does not count as a directly productive worker while such training takes place. Off-the-job training has the advantage that it allows people to get away from work and concentrate more thoroughly on the training itself. This type of training has proven more effective[citation needed] in inculcating concepts and ideas.

Training differs from exercise in that people may dabble in exercise as an occasional activity for fun. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, and performance.


The name allegedly recalls the multitasking skills associated with controlling the team of a horse-drawn stagecoach. Coaching is a method of directing, instructing and training a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal or develop specific skills. There are many ways to coach, types of coaching and methods to coaching. Direction may include motivational speaking. Training may include seminars, workshops, and supervised practice.

CFOs and HRM

To view slides full page or to download them click HERE.

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