Continue from: HUMAN RESOURCE AS A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

1) HRM Objective and Procedural Design.
One sure way of attaining organizational vision is by aligning Human Resource Management objectives to the overall objectives of the organization, and this can be achieved through effective HR planning. In the words of Baird and Meshoulam (1988) Business objectives are accomplished when human resource practices, procedures, and systems are developed and implemented based on organizational needs, that is when a strategic perspective to human resource management is adopted.
When making his point on the best-fit approach strategic human resource management, Michael Armstrong (2009) clearly supported the view expressed above, when he said The best-fit approach is in line with contingency theory. It emphasizes that HR strategies should be congruent with the context and circumstances of the organization.
The start point in the successful management of human resource and in making her a competitive advantage is to have in place a well designed objective and policy procedures that align strategically with corporate vision and objective. For example, a company employment policy must be clearly written, communicated and approved by top management to serve as a guide for hiring, placement and the general management of the company personnel.

2) Employment Process

The process through which people are hired or brought into the organization must follow best practices and acceptable international standard. The organization must be planned, job and task clearly identify, job-holders role and their relationship to other positions must be identified. In the overall interest of the organization and in the best interest of HR practitioners; every job must have a clear objective and its contribution to the organization objective clearly stated.
To achieve this, a clear policy must be established regarding the following:
Human Resource Management Objective
Human Resource Management Planning ( Organization of the HR functions and Evaluating HR functions)
Job Design and Role
Job Analysis Process ( Job Description, Person Specification, Job Evaluation Criteria)
Performance Management.

3) Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has much deeper meaning than commitment and job satisfaction. Opinions are divided among writers and HR practitioners on the relationship between engagement and job satisfaction or on whether engagement should be equated with commitment.
Without dwelling so much on the controversies surrounding these intellectual arguments I would like to say here that engagement is the totality of organization policy, organization atmosphere and individual motivation and heightened commitment intended to build a stronger tie between it and her employee.
Drawing from an industry discussion, debates and dialogues one was able to understand the place of employee engagement in bottom line result for an organization. It was succinctly pointed out that:
engagement is the soul of the company which ‘excites’ and ‘energies’ people to work. It’s all about meaningful work, not the career glamour. It’s the mission that drives bottom-line results

HOW CAN ORGANIZATION DRIVE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT FOR COMPETITIVENESS?

1. Employee perception of job importance ( job Design, job enrichment etc).

2. Employee clarity of job expectations.

3. Career advancement/improvement opportunities.

4. Regular feedback and dialogue with superiors.

5. Quality of working relationships with peers, superiors, and subordinates.

6. Perceptions of the ethos and values of the organization.

7. Effective internal employee communications.

There are clear ways and means of achieving the listed strategies, the important thing, however, is the commitment of corporate leadership and a qualified and competent HRM unit to lead the process of engagement.
Having said all, we must, however, be careful as HR practitioners or corporate leaders not to engage in employees manipulation scheme because they know if the organization is committed also to them or trying to extract their engagement for the selfish end of the organization. The words of David Macleod (2015) should be a precaution to us here:
Employee engagement cannot be achieved by a mechanistic approach which tries to extract discretionary effort by manipulating employees commitment and emotions. Employees see through such attempts very quickly and can become cynical and disillusioned

4) Training and Development

Every organization must invest in training and development to ensure that they are at pace with changes in customer preferences, technology, and global economic conditions. A well thought out training plan should not be seen as a cost factor but rather as an investment for the good of the organization.
One major challenge for HR practitioners or training and development consultants bothers on their inability to measure and effectively evaluate the impact of training on employee performance and on the organization overall objective.

To achieve this and do it successfully the following should be noted and implemented:

1)Corporate objectives and Direction ( Alignment of corporate strategy and organization Culture)

2)Training Output Determination. The result of every training must be predetermined and clearly written ahead of the training itself. Often time people leave this out thinking that if training is properly delivered it would be seen in job performance. This is not only erroneous but lazy approach to training.

3)Pre-training Assessment ( Assessment of current knowledge and skill set of the employee vis a vis their present performance rating and organization expectations)

4)Training Design and Methodology. Training should be design to meet individuals needs and address the shortfall in skills or knowledge. The idea of a general training for all does not necessarily address specific issues except if it is intended to communicate a new direction or introduce new ideas. Content determination and method of delivery are very germane to having a high impact training that will benefit the organization and make it competitive.

5)Post Training Assessment. There are two aspects to this namely 1) Post Training Assessment (Reaction and Evaluation of Delivery by Participants) and 2) Post Training Assessment (Learning and Impact Assessment). As a matter of fact, training must be evaluated to help in evaluating the appropriateness of the training method of delivery.

6)Follow-Up. Drawing on Donald Kirkpatricks four-level-model, a proper follow up on training must be conducted to ensure that those trained are applying what they learned the right way.
Follow up plans must consider the following as given by Donald Kirkpatrick.

• Reaction: How was the training overall? What did participants like and dislike?

• Learning: What knowledge and abilities did participants learn at the training?

• Behavior: How have participants applied the skills they learned?

• Results: What was the effect on the agency or organization?

7)Customer-Focused and Customer Friendly Orientation. Lastly to achieve competitive advantage through people every organization must have a philosophy that placed a premium on customer value. Every employee must understand clearly that they are employed to meet customer needs and exceeds their expectation whether they be an internal or external customer. I have talked extensively about this in other articles on this blog.

Conclusion

An organization should strive to achieve multiple and sustainable competitive advantages which often times serves as a cushion during a moment of business challenges and stiff competition. While attention should be paid to low pricing, quality products and services, strong asset and balance sheet, the most important factor for sustainable competitive advantage would remain the outstanding management of human resource.
Thank you for reading, your comments, and further discussions are welcome.

Reference

Michael Armstrong ( 2009): Armstrongs Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice (11th Edition). Kogan Page
O.B. Fagbohungbe 2006): Personnel Or Human Resource Management: The Repository For Human Resource Utilization.
Forbes.com
Ken Faulkenberry 2015
Mckinsey Global and Mckinsey
World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (2015)
Wikipedia 2015

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