An HRD practitioner is a complex and inspiring person, he/she has to be both well versed in management and technical skills as well as being a warm but firm person, to be nurturing and a disciplinarian and to be decisive, ethical, and kind-hearted. Before conducting this interview, I had a different understanding of the roles and responsibilities that an HRD practitioner should have. I thought that the most important things for us to learn were the different functions of human resource management.
Little did I know that the personhood of the HRD practitioner is also a huge determinant of his/her effectiveness. I thought that knowing the concepts about managing people, motivation, employee attitudes, and problem behaviors were enough; I did not think that an HRD practitioner has to make those concepts come to life through its application in the organization (Swanson, 2001).
I have also learned that some peripheral HRD functions such as benefits and compensation can be outsourced but the more personal functions such as trainings; performance evaluation, mentoring and coaching and employee discipline are best served when the organization has its own HR department.
Moreover, HRD functions cannot be taken lightly; it is as much as important as the smooth and effective operation of the organization. HRD means human resource development and this probably is the most appropriate indicator of what HR practitioners do in their jobs.
HRD is concerned with the maintenance and improvement of the human resources of the organization and within these two words, lays a myriad of tasks and strategies that are geared towards improving employee productivity, keeping them contented and happy as well as providing opportunities for growth. As a future HRD practitioner, I have gained a lot of knowledge and information from this activity, of which I am glad I had the chance to do.
The HRD practitioner I interviewed was fairly new in her post and her previous work experience was on managing a unit or department, but she had taken the challenge of HRD work because she believes that HRD is crucial in the success of any organization. She is Ms. Lucille, and she had been the HRD officer of a small organization for over a year and a half. She previously managed a department in the same organization and was an experienced team leader and supervisor. She did not have any formal education in HRD and all she knows about HRD functions were from trainings and seminars and through experience. She is a warm person, but firm and as I was interviewing her, I could sense that she is happy with what she is doing.
Ms. Lucille is the HRD officer of a small organization that provides educational services to students and professionals who are currently pursuing higher education. The organization is service oriented, providing tutorials, short-term courses, workshops, and library services. The nature of the organization’s business makes it dependent on the quality and abilities of its workers.
The organization currently has 120 employees assigned to different sections or departments, from educational reviewers, instructional material development, multi-media department, administration, janitorial department, HRD and marketing and development. Ms. Lucille is the HRD officer and she has two HR assistants that are responsible for routine tasks such as payroll and attendance monitoring. The organization is composed of employees that have different backgrounds and professional disciplines and sometimes are difficult to deal with but Ms. Lucille says it is challenging and it gives her more insight to human nature. Since the organization is relatively young, it has been in existence for around 12 years and it has grown from 35 employees to 120.
The age difference among the employees is very wide, the youngest employee is about 24 years old, and the oldest is 58. There are relatively young employees and the turnover is usual at around 14% rate. Thus, there are new employees every year and the new employees who after the probationary period does not pass the performance evaluation are not renewed, thus the need for recruitment and hiring.
The organization is typical and follows the traditional hierarchy; the organizational culture promotes a sense of community and family which have made the organization one big family that everyone is concerned about the members of the organization. The organization is also technology oriented; hence, everyone in the company has computer skills and makes use of different multi-media equipments in their daily tasks. Some of the older employees had difficulty with the computer and the HR regularly conducts trainings and refresher courses for their employees.
Ms. Lucille says that as head of the HRD department, she is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of communication protocols, standard operating procedures, the enforcement of the code of conduct of the organization in terms of employee behavior and performance, monitoring attendance and tardiness, review of compensation and benefits program, recruitment and hiring and retention, trainings and employee development programs, performance evaluation and mediating between the management and the employee’s union (Weinberger, 1998).
In the organizational structure, she reports to the corporate manager and is a member of the central administrator’s team. Usually the corporate manager decides on matters that are beyond HRD functions however, the corporate manager coordinates with Ms. Lucille especially when it comes to matters that will involve employees. Ms. Lucille submits proposals, reviews and reports to the corporate manager and she carries out the mandates of the manager, but always in respect to the laws and policies regarding employees.
At times when the employees have, issues and concerns that they want to bring to the management Ms. Lucille first checks on the issues and try to resolve it based on the organization’s policies and the state’s laws on employee welfare and benefits (Mafi, 2000). She says that her job can be pretty challenging especially with the different personalities of the people her work with, but in general, she does not have many problems or headaches.
As part of her functions as the HRD officer, Ms. Lucille finds herself caught between wanting to help the employee and pleasing the management. She says that the biggest challenge for her is to come up with win-win solutions for both the employees that she serves and the management that she represents. In reality, she says that more often than not, it is the management side that has the authority over the decisions that concerns the operation and productivity of the organization.
Which is why she tries to come up with strategies and programs that will be both beneficial for the management and the employees, at times when she had to enforce the organization’s policies; she does so firmly but with a heavy heart. I realized then that being an HRD practitioner is not an easy job; it is stressful and depressing especially when one has to enforce sanctions, but it is part of the job. The challenge according to Ms. Lucille is to always focus on the behavior of the employee and not the person.
This is better said than done, at times when she had to settle disputes between employees, the conversations become more personal and she find it difficult to lead the warring employees to look at their behaviors and not on the kind of person, he/she is. Ms. Lucille enjoys a certain amount of authority, not because she commands it but because of her position, people in the organization seek her opinion on matters that concern employee conduct.
Aside from being the HRD officer, Ms. Lucille also supervises her staff and with it lays certain roles and responsibilities. She is the department head and thus oversees all the transactions and the business of the department. She sees to it that her staff is able to provide services like application for leaves, maternity, sickness, and retirement.
She also conducts staff meetings at the start of the week and sets goals for the department for the month. She periodically checks on the accomplishment reports of her staff and provides feedback as the need arises. She also heads various committees and boards that she had formed to take charge on matters like employee grievance, employee wellness, community building and compensation and benefits. She meets the members of the committees as the need arises and whenever there are new developments in the organization’s policies and or state-mandated laws that would significantly affect the employees in any way.
Ms. Lucille is a graduate of education and had been working in a university when she joined the organization. She has a master’s degree in teaching the English language, and first worked as a tutor in the company. When her boss left the company, she was promoted as the team leader. She served as team leader for 3 years, through her dedication to the company was again promoted as department head, and had this post for 5 years. She was sent to workshops and trainings on managing people, increasing productivity and effective communication.
She had had positive performance and when their HRD officer left abruptly, she was appointed as the most capable for the job. At first, she was hesitant to accept the position because she knew it would be a huge responsibility. However, she was convinced that without an HRD officer the HR functions would not be effectively carried out.
She already was familiar with some of the roles and responsibilities of the HRD officer. She however had difficulty in being settled into the position and having to be on top of every department and employee conduct. The trainings that she regularly attended had helped her become effective at her job. In addition, through networking and joining HRD groups and associations, she had become better versed at the different HRD functions. At present, she is thinking of enrolling to a master’s degree in HRD or take up classes on labor laws.
The first thing she fixed in the HRD was the delivery of information that concerned the whole organization. As a previous team leader and department manager, she knew that effective communication was the key to a harmonious and productive working relationship. She said that the previous HRD was not big on coordination and information and she was also one of those who were complaining with the lack of information dissemination.
Thus, she reviewed all the communication protocols and found that memos were an effective means of communicating new directives or reminding employees of certain requirements and policies. At first, the employees had negative reactions to the onslaught of memos and Ms. Lucille explained to the employees that memos were not negative and that it is just a means of giving out information. After some months, the memos are now well received. She also went to instill professionalism in the manner of clothing and personality development of employees.
Since they were in the business of providing educational services to its customers, it was important that the employees were professional looking and credible (Kessels & Poell, 2004).
She consulted with the department heads and begun the process of laying out the dress code for the employees and she gave female employees training on professional dressing, make-up and even on how to respond tactfully and effectively to customers. The employees were receptive to these changes although there were some who preferred the casual style, she also gave consideration on those who were not directly relating to customers and did not require them to dress professionally if there were no important transactions to be done.
The management was keen on these changes because it was a start of building organizational culture and image. In almost two years of being an HRD officer, she had already implemented a number of changes and enforced the needed policies and regulations. However, her success was attributed to a supportive management and receptive employees.