Emerging HR Practices

21st Century HR: An Integrated Model To Achieve Organisation Objectives

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Dr. G. Little
Prof. PS Nel

22nd Annual ANZAM Conference held at Auckland New Zealand
2-5 December 2008


Human performance as a strategic driver of organisational results has been debated in theory and practice for decades as evident from numerous published works, with the debate establishing that there is no model directly linking staff actions to organisational strategy. This paper analyses relevant literature and then reviews a successful new model developed by Little (2003).

The model is grounded in social science and tested in practice guiding team leaders: (1) To better identify the ideal actions that enable the best possible result; (2) to engage staff minds with the ideals; (3) to increase staff professionalism so that the ideals are acted out more often, more precisely, with greater intensity so establishes HR as a strategic driver of organisational success.

Key words: SHRM, performance management, personnel psychology, leadership, coaching, learning and development.


Organisations usually pride themselves in being sustainable and to deliver effective returns to their stake holders, irrespective of operating in the profit or non profit sectors. It is, however, often overlooked that organisational theory and ensuring that personnel are optimally motivated and committed to the aims of the organisation, is pivotal to its success (Ulrich, 1998). Should personnel be guided to best possible performance potential, then the results would be greater for any organisation than is generally believed. This is the value of an effective SHRM model enabling managers and team leaders to achieve better results with their teams than they would otherwise have been able to achieve.

Contrary to some popularly held views, personnel are ultimately divorced from the “organisation as an entity” and thus the outputs to be achieved, because personnel are only a resource amongst many, albeit the most critical. The objective of organisations is to satisfy the demands of stakeholders , be it profit, market leader, survival or whatever.

A model constituting two halves integrate organisation ideals (defined as actions to achieve goals) via goals, strategy and HR-KPIs with the necessary and sufficient psychological factors that result in clarity and commitment (Human Resources Key Performance Indicators) including self discipline and professionalism. These aspects in the context of an integrated business and HR model form the focus of this paper.


A lack of clear direction prevails in global HR research which is expressed by scholars and practitioners across a wide front as a concern for the profession, including the resultant role personnel ought to play in organisations’ objective achievement (Goshal 2005; Hendry 2003; Holbeche 2006; Morris, Snell & Lepak 2005; Meisinger 2005).

Various researchers have pointed out during the last few years (Browning & Edgar 2004; Becker, Huselid & Ulrich 2001; Birchfield 2002; Brewster , Dowling , Grobler, Holland & Warnich 2000; Mayrhofer & Brewster 2005; Nel 2007; Ruona & Gibson, 2004; Storey, 2001) that a revised approach to Human Resources Management (HRM) is evolving. This includes the strategic role and functions of the HR profession as business partners in organisations and the way they ought to direct personnel to optimise their contributions to the organisation. Transformational leadership expressed in terms of the high-level capabilities and management skills are also assuming a significant place in the future of the HR profession in organisations as well as the ability to add value.

Researchers increasingly emphasise that the theory of HRM should more comprehensively address current demands businesses face globally, which includes enhancing performance and obtaining more positive returns from the factors shaping behaviour (Rousseau 1995 and Peel & Boxall 2005). A search for applicable theory and models is therefore of the order of the day. Furthermore there appears to be conflicting signals in terms of what the research literature recommends should happen in practice and what actually happens. Various
approaches regarding HR theory and practice thus exist (Becker et al 2001; Birchfield 2003; Jayne 2002; Storey 2001; Wright, Snell & Dyer 2005). There is also the notion that HRM has not been functioning significantly in the areas of strategic management, performance management in the boardroom or in a “real” leadership role (Boxall & Purchell 2003 and Redman & Wilkinson 2006).

Various voices have also been raised that HR personnel should be held accountable concerning the following. First, how can human resources management add value? Secondly, who has the skills of a strategic partner? Thirdly, how can HR managers ensure personnel remain committed during times of turbulence? (Larsen & Brewster 2003). The aforementioned limitations, suggest that organisations’ strategic planning process ought to berevisited in terms of how personnel contribute to achieving the required outputs as part of an
overall strategic objective achievement (Holbeche 2004).

Birchfield (2003) suggests leadership, performance and culture as themes that are interrelated components of HR practice. HR professionals should display a high level of sensitivity with regard to performance management and the development of leadership in particular, as these are key drivers for an organisation’s future objective achievement. Performance management impacts significantly on leadership and culture, which are interdependent but crucial components to achieve objectives. It is also of cardinal importance that personnel should function optimally by means of effective and focused development and skills to execute jobs
in the way that objectives are competently achieved (Auluck 2007).

Wright et al. (2005) makes the statement that broadening the influence of HR should be the adoption of HR systems and practices on a more appropriate basis in organisations. More progress along these lines would improve opportunities for theoreticians and practitioners to find common ground in terms of trend identification to sharpen the focus on how to achieve the best performance and commitment of HR personnel in organisations to meet objectives.Personnel utilisation approaches should therefore become a subject to focus attention on concerning organisation’s objective achievement as far as research for improvement is
concerned. Limited acknowledgement exists regarding the effects of the link between an organisation’s strategy and personnel behaviour and the effects it has on the organisation.

These issues are highlighted in the next section.


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