Professionals converge to talk HRM

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strategy(1).jpg" style="width: 187px; height: 139px; margin: 5px; float: left;" />With most students having vacated the university campus for the summer holidays, business people meeting for the World Business Capability Congress had the Owen Glenn building all to themselves. The congress comprised 150 presentations on organisational improvement, including a strong focus on human resource management.

“[Organisations] face fast-paced technological, economic, regulatory, environmental, demographic, and cultural changes that daily influence their ability to remain relevant and viable,” the conference website stated. And organisers promised to help business people comprehend and keep pace with this change. One panel on HRM covered optimising workplace potential, professional learning communities (PLCs), and filling the quality isolation gap.

Jonathan Westover, assistant professor of business – Utah Valley University, began by describing the shift in HR from a largely administrative function to a strategic leadership function. He outlined the key challenges facing the modern day HR practitioner:

  1. How can I get the right people?
  2. How can I reduce employment turnover?
  3. How can I improve my performance management?
  4. How can I create a high engagement work culture?
  5. How can I best tap the full potential of my employees?

Westover stressed the need to base HR decisions on research. “One thing I tried to push is this necessity for research foundations in everything that we do,” he said. He argued that many HR consultants were no better than ‘snake oil merchants’ who dispensed fad theories, which often weren’t grounded in any objective, empirical evidence.

Norkhalid Slamat, head of staff development – Pasir Ris Primary School, Singapore, spoke about the implementation of PLCs at his school. Elements of the program include the ‘Care and Share Forum,’ in which teachers come together for an hour or two each week to discuss professional learning (among other things), and the ‘Innovation and Learning Day,’ in which teachers present and vote on their own projects. Slamat observed that this program facilitated staff engagement by empowering teachers to engender change from the bottom up. Also, because the staff development takes place within working hours, it encourages better work/life balance. The school recently registered 87% employee engagement.

Margaret Sands, staff development and quality facilitator – Southern Cross Hospital, told her story of a club of quality facilitators to which she belongs. The small group of eight, passionate quality facilitators meets every three months in a café to motivate and support each other. They have a strict agenda and terms of reference and they detail an action plan alongside their meeting minutes, so that they have documented evidence of what they have learned and what they need to do. Sands described the group as a product of ‘plain, old-fashioned common sense’ and remarked that she always returned to the office energised after a meeting.

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