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Problems with implementing Human Resource practices : the view of HR- and first-line managers

Wesselink, W. (2008) Problems with implementing Human Resource practices : the view of HR- and first-line managers.

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Abstract:The last couple of years, HR responsibilities and tasks have been devolved increasingly from HR managers to line managers, especially to first-line managers (FLMs). This also happened at SCHOTT US, a multinational, technology-based group developing, manufacturing, and supplying special glass, specialty materials, components and systems. FLMs at SCHOTT US are increasingly responsible for HR tasks and still have to perform the same business tasks. The HR managers must still devolve some operational tasks in order to focus complete on the strategic side of HR. The theory assumes that FLMs perceive hindrances with implementing HR practices. The goal of this research is to describe the opinions of HR managers and FLMs on the barriers which may be perceived by FLMs when implementing HR practices, so as to recommend SCHOTT US how to address these barriers. The theory demonstrates that there are five barriers that could hinder FLMs when implementing HR practices. These barriers are: desire, capacity, competencies, support, and policy & procedures. These barriers have influence on the effectiveness of the implementation of HR practices by FLMs and therefore on the effectiveness of the HRM system. In order to examine which barriers are perceived by the HR managers and FLMs when implementing HR practices by FLMs at SCHOTT US, I interviewed 4 HR managers who have different HR tasks. Furthermore I interviewed 10 FLMs who are directly responsible for a team of 3 to 15 operational employees and who are working in different departments. I distributed a questionnaire to 13 FLMs. The analysis happened on basis of an empirical and a theoretical study. The results demonstrate that the views of the HR managers and the FLMs on the barriers differ: The factor desire is perceived as a barrier by the HR managers, but not by the FLMs. According to the HR managers the FLMs are a-motivated, but according to the literature they are extrinsically motivated. FLMs state they are motivated and know that performing HR responsibilities is value added. This is in contrast with how they act. On the one hand they find performing their HR responsibilities important, but on the other hand they do not want to perform all the HR tasks they are responsible for. The majority of the FLMs chose business issues over people issues. This choice of priority differs from those of the HR managers, who want the FLMs to prioritize people issues over business issues. The FLMs spend less time on the HR issues than the HR managers want them to. FLMs spend least time on hard HR tasks, such as administrative tasks and most time on soft HR tasks, such as having performance conversations with employees and managing their people. FLMs at SCHOTT US do not have the feeling of role overload. Most of the FLMs have experiences with implementing HR practices. FLMs state that they have enough HR knowledge to deal with the HR tasks they have to perform, but that it can be improved. The HR department disagrees with the FLMs on this point, they state that the FLMs do not have enough skills to achieve the HR goals set by the HR department. According to the HR managers, the FLMs lack skills of conflict management, communication, and self-motivation. The FLMs said they lack most technical knowledge of HR and they also want to develop their skills to manage conflicts. These competencies can be developed by following training courses which are organized by the HR department. According to the HR managers these training courses are relevant and sufficient, although repetition would be better. The FLMs do not think these training courses are sufficient and they are not motivated to go. The FLMs obtain most support from the HR department, their supervisors and their secretaries. But they dislike that they always have to be proactive to obtain the support. The HR managers know they have to improve this. As distinct from what the FLMs think, the HR managers think they understand the issues FLMs have to deal with. Both the HR managers and the FLMs perceive the policies and procedures as a barrier with implementing HR practices. The FLMs think the HR policy and procedures are unclear. In contrast with the HR managers, who think the HR guidelines and procedures are clear, but not well communicated to the FLMs, which causes the fact that the FLMs think the HR guidelines and procedures are unclear. An extra barrier which is perceived by the HR managers is accountability. Because the FLMs at SCHOTT US are not held accountable for the HR practices they have to implement, the other barriers might arise. The quantitative results demonstrate that policy and procedures is the biggest barrier for the FLMs when implementing the HR practices. The HR policy and procedures are obscure for the FLMs, which can cause the feeling of role conflict, and role ambiguity which FLMs have. Desire is the biggest barrier according to the HR managers. They link all barriers to the desire factor. They argue that when the FLMs do not have the willingness to perform their HR responsibilities, they do not want to spend time on it, they do not want to develop their HR skills, they will not ask for support and they do not want to spend time on getting into the HR policy and procedures. To solve these barriers, I recommend SCHOTT US the following: 1. Improve the communication between the HR department and the FLMs. 2. Create a shared knowledge and understanding about the importance of the HR role of FLMs. 3. Add a HR goal to the yearly goal setting of the FLMs. 4. Think about devolving more business tasks to team members by FLMs. 5. Think about another classification of the HR department. 6. Organize HR related training courses. 7. Be more proactive in giving support to the FLMs. 8. Involve FLMs in HR policy making. 9. Think about devolving more HR tasks to the FLMs.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
SCHOTT US, Elmsford (NY)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Industrial Engineering and Management BSc (56994)
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