Internal drivers impacting the application of HRD activities

When we consider the internal influences which may impact the delivery of HRD activities several key issues can be identified. These include:

• The perceptions surrounding HRD and its value proposition within the organization

  • • The internal political influences and networks which exist
  • • The degree of support from senior managers responsible for decisions around business strategy and resources available
  • • The extent to which there is an emphasis on performance and its enhancement through staff development activities ie is a culture of learning encouraged? Are individual rather than organizational learning activities emphasized more?
  • • The type of workplace demographics which exist and how these are measured and monitored

These issues are explored here.

Internal perceptions of HRD and its value proposition

In tracing the historical development of HRD we saw how it has transformed itself from a concern with just the training of staff into a much broader agenda of development activity. Much of the current writing around L & D has a mainly practice- based orientation, and often lacks empirical evidence so it is challenging to establish a theoretical basis to the study of its role and value. By adopting a pluralistic perspective and drawing on a number of disciplines to explain its purpose and rationale, we can deal more easily with the difficult questions of value, contribution, and measurement of goal achievement. These disciplines include economics, sociology, psychology', and the behavioural sciences. A major challenge within such debates is the potential tension which exists between individual and organizational outcomes when staff development is undertaken. Arguably all staff development undertaken within the boundaries of the organization, and paid for by the employing organization, should be aligned with organizational needs and outcomes, and business benefits. But as we saw in Chapter 1, the increasing emphasis in the current economic climate on self-managed learning (and in some cases self-fimded learning) challenges the more traditional view of how to deliver staff development and how we measure its value.

The value proposition of HRD can be articulated in a number of different ways. A collaborative research and engagement project conducted by the then UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), Investors in People (I IP), and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) highlights four key areas where employees contribute: through their knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA); through HRD activities; through employee stability' and welfare, and employee equity (human rights) (CIPD, 2015).The study was commissioned to assess the current standard of Human Capital reporting amongst UK FTSE 100 companies and to consider how current guidelines have improved practices.These guidelines include regulatory requirements around financial reporting as well as on HR practices which are of course subject to legal requirements. Externally organizations report their approach and style to their shareholders and the wider public via annual reports and media outlets. Internally reporting will be done by communication to both staff and managers on the outcomes of such things as employee engagement surveys. The CIPD study found increased reporting on both KSA and HRD activities from the previous three-year period. In particular the study found clear evidence that organizations are focusing on workforce (and succession) planning.

Arguably all four areas can be considered in the context of a multigenerational workforce. When an organization wishes to keep its staff informed about staff employment and retention, what L & D has been offered and delivered (including information on particular interventions), and how inclusion and diversity is being managed, it will need to measure these elements to provide data accordingly. Keeping staff informed about such issues via team meetings, newsletters, and other communication methods will help with improving engagement overall.

Internal political influences and networks and support from senior managers

Despite the existence of many formal structures in organizations, which are generally established and operated by function and specialism, many informal, internal networks will also be present. These can be important in influencing how communications operate, how people interact, and how business is actually done. The web of relationships which a network establishes can be very powerful and have an impact on how employees think and feel about their role. Bryan et al (2007) suggest that such informal networks will flourish spontaneously as people share ideas and work together. From an OD perspective we tend to associate formal structures with functional ‘silos’ where people may not be so open to sharing ideas or opportunities but prefer to remain within their specialisms. Where informal networks exist these can help to break down these silos by encouraging horizontal collaboration.This may occur in either a planned or an unplanned way.

The need to have specialist knowledge and skills may be perpetuated by the need to remain in that particular area of work, sometimes because of skills shortages, yet some employees may wish to move across the operation into new areas to extend their experience and gain new skills and knowledge. By providing a planned approach to career progression, organizations can ensure that the movement of staff, as a result of staff development following on from an assessment of competence and any skills shortfalls, takes place in an orderly fashion with a focus on end results of enhanced performance. Such a process of career planning and development is usually designed as part of a formal talent management initiative. However, more informally staff may seek opportunities to broaden their experience by taking some ownership of their career decisions themselves, and seek out others who can help, either inside or sometimes outside the operation. This is why coaching and mentoring now play such an important part in organizational life in many organizations.

One of the key stakeholder groups in any organization is the senior management team. This group may differ in their level of support for investment in L & D.

At a time of increasingly competitive business environments, the allocation of resources becomes critical. As we have seen already, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide a wide range of expensive training when budgets have to be cut, and so more innovative solutions have to be found. Indeed, the growing use of online development activities is one response to these circumstances. Investment in manager development itself will also be needed however and more innovative yet cost-effective ways of ensuring that managers are both competent and engaged will need to be found. The level of support from the top of the organization towards staff development is critical, in particular when managers may question what is being spent. How managers themselves perceive the value of investing in learning, both their own and that of others, will depend therefore on the approaches used to measure such value, and the resulting data produced from such evaluation.

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