Has human resource development been helpful?

by HCA24 Jun 2009

Instead of helping, most current human resource development (HRD) approaches are hindering - and in so doing - damaging businesses in the current climate of accelerated change and uncertainty. This HRD fraud is exposed in Part One of - The 8 Values of Highly Productive Companies: Creating Wealth from a New Employment Relationship. Part Two of the book discusses the New Employment Relationship Model I have developed from my research. The model consists of eight core values. This model is the foundation for creating a workplace culture suited for the 21st century. The requirements of employer and employee have profoundly changed over the past 25 years, but traditional HRD has not kept pace with these shifting priorities.

Despite the rhetoric, many current HRD practices - at the very least - are holding businesses and employees back from realising their full potential. These traditional programs come and go. Approaches such as process re-engineering, self-directed work teams, downsizing, and rightsizing and so on are replacing each other because they are unsustainable attempts at meeting the necessities of organisations operating in this rapidly changing global environment. Conventional HRD is obsessed with competencies, skills development and implementing and following processes and procedures. These strategies are essentially about doing, applying or improving something within the business; they do not question the underlying assumptions of the conventional employment relationship.

What organisations need now - more than ever - is a different approach that confronts the mindsets employer and employee have of their employment relationship. The 8 Values of Highly Productive Companies: Creating Wealth from a New Employment Relationship promises to do this. It is difficult to argue with the notion that changing people's thinking is the cornerstone for changing their behaviour. 

Most of the popular management books assume that people are ready and willing to change their behaviours and practices. Long-established HRD practices place too much emphasis on behaviour modification and too little on changing the way people think. Implementing innovative organisational practices with conventional thinking is ultimately futile; one step forward, two steps back, as they say.

The psychological contract has radically and irreversibly changed since the latter part of the last century. Prior to this revolution in the workplace, the traditional employment relationship had dominated industry since the birth of the Industrial Revolution. For more than 200 years, the employment relationship has been constant, predictable and arguably a successful blueprint for the individual and organisation. Most existing HRD practices have either based their approach on this conventional 'them and us' relationship, or fail to take into account the shifting sands of the psychological contract.

Even the label 'human resource' is a hangover from a by-gone era. The term implies that employees are the property of organisations in much the same way as technical resources are owned by the business. Yet most employees really do not see themselves as organisational resources, at the beck and call of employers. Now younger workers are likely to consider themselves as free agents who happen to temporarily work in a particular organisation in exchange for certain benefits and conditions.

The 8 Values of Highly Productive Companies exposes the myth that the existing HRD industry is helpful. It is not.

This book promises to help managers navigate their way through this tumultuous time in our history. By using the roadmap outlined in the book, managers have at their disposal a unique methodology that benefits both their organisation and the individuals working in it. Part Three shows how you can positively alter the culture of a workplace for the wellbeing of both parties in the employment relationship.

The 8 Values of Highly Productive Companies is timely against a backdrop where most organisations are struggling to adapt or survive to the new emergent international marketplace. On the other hand, employees are becoming increasingly disillusioned with corporate practices that fail to take into account their changing needs and interests. It is therefore sensible to consider a new way forward for HRD.

This is an extract from Dr Tim Baker's latest book: The 8 Values of Highly Productive Companies: Creating Wealth from a New Employment Relationship (Australian Academic Press). More information about the book can be found at www.winnersatwork.com.au

About the author

Dr Tim Baker is an international consultant specialising in workplace culture and managing director of WINNERS-AT-WORK. Email: tim@winnersatwork.com.au




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