Understanding HRD: Meanings, Trends, and Directions
Mr. Yazdi Jehangir Bankwala Arpitha Associate (M) http://www.arpitha.com/ 13 January 2005
Interviewed by: Sarah Latif, Specialist Management Resources (SMR) Kuala Lumpur
Q. What do you understand by ‘development’ in the context of HRD?
I would understand it to be ‘Nurturing the potential of people’…how in organizations we can grow people’s potential. We should understand people’s potential, make them conscious of their potential and develop those potentials accordingly.
Q. What do you understand ‘Human’ in HRD?
I think ‘human’ is a mental being, a physical being, an emotional being and spiritual being. All these elements have to be addressed. But I think in the present scenario, organisations are only looking at the mental aspect and, to a certain extent, the physical element. Only a handful are really beginning to address the emotional aspect.
Q. What in your opinion is more important for the organization, HRD or HRM?
Definitely HRD. Because HRM is just a process, which I feel that with today’s technology we can get a lot of software to take over that entire function. Any IT company can prepare that software and implement in the organization. But the development part is something that Software Company cannot do; even Humans cannot solve certain issues in Development.
Q. In your opinion, do you think HRD should be about education and therefore development or should it be about training and utilitarian?
Yes it is definitely for education and development, but the education and development need not be for utilitarian purpose. Because Human beings are resources that need to be continuously developed, exactly when, where and how it pays dividend is not known.
Interviewer: Development in terms of only education and learning or something beyond that?
Oh yes! When I say potential (earlier), it is about getting a person to understand who he/she really is…What is it they want to achieve?…What is it they can achieve? and help them to channel their own potential to what they want to achieve, not necessarily what the organization wants them to achieve.
What is happening today is that HRD says ‘ this is what we need’, ‘this is what we have’ and put both together. In truth it should be, ‘this is where we are’, ‘this is who we are’ and find out if the employees can be put in the organization with their potentials. Rather than focusing on job descriptions, the emphasis should be on job fulfillment. It should be: can we accommodate you rather than you accommodate us.
Q. What shape has HRD taken nationally, regionally and globally say over the last 25 years?
Well I wouldn’t know because I was not around for 25 years in this type of field. Regionally training is basically been followed by whatever has come from the West, without even realizing the suitability of such approaches back here (in Asia). Globally, I think there are many things that we are not even aware of in the field of HRD. But definitely HRD is taking a more important shape here.
Interviewer: Is HRD more to do with training or something more?
In fact, I would say HRD has less and less to do with training. Structured training in a room or seminar room for the purpose of learning is gradually losing importance. Today bulk of learning is through interaction. Training is what HRD does for you and for the department. Today in the West the owners of big companies are allowing their staff to decide on what they are willing to learn. They are given a budget for the year. It is more employees-driven.
But today in Malaysia the training institutes or providers will come out with a schedule, sent brochures to all the companies, and give a final date for registration. Nobody signs up really and then there will be consequent follow up calls and things. It is more organization-driven then learners-driven.
Q. Where is HRD heading to in Malaysia and globally?
Partly is covered in the previous question. It is more individual learning.
Q. What is the dominant approach or framework of HRD in Malaysia, the Region and the world?
Generally it is finding what the workers need and give it to them. Building capacity for the future…The framework seem to address not prevention but cure. We are not actually having the luxury of preparing people for the future. Very rarely we prepare people for leadership roles 5 years ahead and then give them the responsibility of such a task. We very much pay attention on the effect rather than working on the cause.
Q. What in your opinion are the obstacles to HRD? What are factors that has encouraged or discouraged the development of HRD?
The biggest obstacle to HRD are the HRD people themselves. They are the people who preach openness, new ideas, taking risks but they are ones who never take risk, who are not open to new ideas, not creative and innovative. They are the ones who wants status quo…The role of HRD has become very low profile. They deliver leadership training but they themselves could hardly demonstrate leadership.
Q. When we talk about changes, do you think technology will diminish the role or importance of HRD in the future? In a world of ‘dot com’ and flexible work, will HRD mean anything?
In a way, yes. This is because when we have this flexibility, the people in a technological era have far more access to information, they know what is it they need more accurately and acutely. So they go and search for development or growth opportunity regardless of whether the organization provides it or not.
Interviewer: Do you think this attitude will diminish the role of HRD?
Well if people take it seriously it might. And that’s a good sign because the greatest problem is that people don’t take responsibility for their own growth seriously. They want HRD to be responsible for their growth. So in theory if there is no HRD then people should be responsible for their own growth. They will have to action to achieve it.
Interviewer: Technology contributes to flexible work, work from home…What I mean by diminish HRD is that when all organisation follow this trend, will HRD have any role to play in our industries and economies?
Of course! Because now most of the training that have been developed are online. You do it on your own will, own time, at any terminal. So what for do I need HRD, at the end of the day I just need an IT department to develop e-learning software.
Q. What do you think is the role of trade union in HRD? Do they play a significant role? Are they neglected or are they unnecessary?
I don’t think there is any significant role for sure at least not in Malaysia. Definitely they are neglected. Unions are present only to look at the terms and conditions of employment. They are supposed to be actively involved in helping people to grow.
For example, in Singapore, and other countries, Unions are actively involved in telling their members that trends are changing, the electronic industry, for instance, is going down and there will not be any kind of opportunities for the industry in the next five years. Other avenues are advised and subsidized training is provided.
Q. Is there a relationship between the growing demand for human rights and HRD?
There definitely may be globally, but I dint think we are aware of it in Malaysia because we don’t talk of Human Rights, we don’t even talk much of employee rights.
Q. Has there been any development of ‘indigenous’ HRD framework/approaches? Our frameworks/approaches are highly influenced by the West/American?
Very little, majority of them are coming from West. Unfortunately we settle down for sub standard product coming from the west.
Q. There are certain organisational cultures which are dominant in Malaysia. What do you think is the relationship between this culture and HRD?
HRD is again purely oriented to training and learning that are needs-based at least in Malaysia not realizing very often that the culture of that organization is not conducive to that training. HRD is not making that connectivity to the Organisational Culture.
Q. How do you think old folks (‘just retired’) can be involved in productive tasks? If they are a part of our human resources, what suggestions can you make for developing them? Or is this a waste of effort and time?
They have significant role to play in society, because they are resources with tremendous experiences, those who are really resourceful will automatically be picked by organisations for UN advisors. They definitely make use of themselves they will not wait for a system to help them. But generally organizations should start helping people after their retirement because they are resources of the country.
Q. In a labour shortage economy, we have to hire many foreign workers (to work in the various sectors). There have been a lot of issues regarding the treatment of the foreign workers that relates to their health, their training and many other social, cultural, economic and political issues. Do you have any suggestions in relation to human resources development and immigrant labour?
I think if we have foreign worker,s we should look at them with due respect and dignity, we have started looking down on them. Even if they are paid less they should be looked upon with human dignity. All the problems are arising because immigrant labour are not treating them with dignity.
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