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It is important for HRM personnel to understand the organization’s strategy so that they can hire people with the right skills and retrain people inside the organization to be effective. Increasingly, organizations have recognized that their success depends on well-trained, highly motivated human resources. “It is important to recognize that organizations need strong leadership and strong management for optimal effectiveness” (Robbins & Judge, 2008, p.176), and these leaders would have to be selected, trained and developed based on the unique needs of the firm so that what is expected of them could be met.
This underlines the importance of the selection, training and development strategies of companies, which during recent times have become more and more specific, evidenced by the fact that there is a whole different set of said strategies for top level managers and lower-level managers. The following sections will underscore the most observable differences in strategies when it comes to the selection, training and development phases of human resources management.
DIFFERENCES IN SELECTION STRATEGIES
Selection is the process of obtaining and using information about job applicants in order to determine who should be hired for short- or long-term positions. It is concerned with identifying the best candidate or candidates for jobs from the pool of qualified applicants developed during the recruitment process. The “search might begin by reviewing the specific requirements for the position to be filled” (Robbins & Judge, 2008, p.194).
At its most basic, there are differences as to the characteristics and skills required from top and lower level managers, which implies that dissimilar criteria would be used in selecting them. For instance, if an organization plans to hire lower level managers on the basis of prompt, polite, personalized service, then service and communication skills should be featured in the job specification, and selection devices that can identify these skills in front-line applicants should be chosen.
This argument is based on the assumption that the organization’s strategy is clear, well known, and fairly stable so that people who fit the strategy can be selected.
As per work experience, it may be necessary that the inpidual have a predetermined level of experience in a certain field of study for top level managers, while lower level managers could have a much shorter work experience. On the other hand, a larger number of cognitive, motor, physical, and interpersonal attributes are demanded by a top level manager, thus the more acute need for using educational accomplishment as a surrogate for or summary of the measures of those abilities. “Given the importance of social skills to managerial effectiveness, candidates with a high emotional intelligence should have an advantage, especially in situations requiring transformational leadership” (Robbins & Judge, 2008, p.194). The job may also require advanced degrees such as a master’s degree or perhaps a doctorate in a specific field of study.
Consequently, an organization’s selection system must be capable of distinguishing between characteristics that are needed at the time of hiring, those that are systematically acquired during training, and those that are routinely developed after an inpidual has been placed on the job. In reality, no selection technique is perfectly reliable and valid. Hence most organizations rely on a number of selection techniques and, in fact, may use all or most of the selection techniques available. Hence managers who apply for a job (whether top or lower level) may be (1) subjected to a preliminary screening interview to make sure that he or she meets the minimum qualifications, (2) asked to complete an application and agree to background checks, and (3) required to undergo employment tests and/or participate in work simulations.
DIFFERENCES IN TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES
Organizations today are increasingly recognizing the importance of developing their human resources. The training function, now popularly referred to as human resources development (HRD), coordinates the organization’s efforts to provide training and development experiences for its employees. Although training is often used in conjunction with development, the terms are not synonymous. Employee training can be defined as a planned attempt to facilitate employee learning of job-related knowledge, skills, and behaviors or helping them correct deficiencies in their performance. In contrast, development is an effort to provide employees with the skills needed for both present and future jobs.
Many of today’s top level and lower level managers look at the chance to develop and move up as important in where they will seek employment. In order to facilitate manager progression, many organizations choose to spend substantial sums to train and develop their managers. Training and development are planned learning experiences that teach managers how to perform their current and future jobs. Lower-level manager training is linked to strategic business goals and objectives, uses an instructional design process to ensure training is effective, and compares and benchmarks the organization’s training programs against training programs in other organizations.
Today, training must be tailored to fit the organization’s strategy and structure. An organization that has hired a top level manager and is involved in providing exceptional service through a committed, long-service cadre of extremely well-qualified employees will need more complex training and career development systems than an organization that competes on the basis of simple, low-cost services provided by transient, unskilled employees.
For the organization to manage its investment properly, it should know in advance (that is, prior to training) what it expects of its managers. As compared to lower-level managers, top level managers have more responsibilities to handle and more people underneath the position. Thus, people can be “trained to develop an understanding about content themes critical to effective visions”, as well as taught “skills such as trust building and mentoring” and “situational- analysis skills” (Robbins & Judge, 2008, p.195). Thus the HRM specialists responsible for planning training must look at the current state of affairs, decide what changes are necessary, and then formulate these changes in the form of specific training goals.
More complex training and development programs require a more complex definition of content and of learning goals. For example, a program aimed at enhancing the decision-making capabilities of top level managers would need to fully specify the range of decisions that the executives must make, the circumstances under which those decisions are most likely to be made, and various other factors associated with the decision-making process, as compared to that of the lower level managers’ less complex training and development programs.
Given that decision making is an inherently more complex undertaking than using a particular piece of software, it would follow that the content of a decision-making program would need to be more abstract and tap into a higher level of cognitive ability than the content of a program to teach the use of a piece of software.
Training and developing human resources, particularly managerial resources, is key to organizational success. Learning is the key to successful training and development and to the organization’s continued survival. Regardless of the differences in strategies of undertaking lower level and top level manager selection, training and development, it must be kept in mind that there is no reason to neglect these important activities, given the high cost of most training and development programs and how easy it is to measure their effectiveness.
Robbins, S. & Judge, T. (2008). Essentials of Organizational Behavior. (9th Ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
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