HRD for Business Energy

BE, DCPA, MBA, MA(App. Psy.), PhD(Mgmt.) CE (I), FIE (I), MIMA, MISCA, LMCSI, LMIIMM Any business enterprise must be capable of ‘producing more or better than all the resources that comprise it’ (Drucker, 1989). So, a mechanical assemblage of the five M’s does not qualify as a business. The determinant characteristic is the transmutation of resources so that the output becomes more than the input. We may, without trying to define business energy academically, infer that the difference between output and input to the business system is an indicator of energy in the system. The more this difference, the more energetic the business is. An analysis of financial performance of 1800 indian companies that declared their results for quarter ending Sept. 2002, reveals that the picture emerging out of the aggregate profit growth of 58% has been badly disfigured by the median growth of 27.5% only – with a range of negative growth (-0.36%) in cement to whopping growth of 371% in commercial vehicle sector (Raje, 2002). This is an objective indicator of variance in the business energy levels in the country and establishes the relevance of discussions on the topic. All resources, except human resource, stand under the laws of mechanics – they can never have an output greater than the sum of inputs. Only the human resource is capable of enlargement. People have an unlimited potential to better their performance and therefore, are the most elastic resource. Unlike other resources, human resources can appreciate on use -- under proper guidance & development. The team of trained, capable, energetic & motivated people behind the machines can enthuse energy in the business and create profits that ultimately hold the key to success. As such, development of HR is the most important activity to improve business energy. The question is how? This paper is an attempt to address this question.

What is HRD?
Much confusion has been created by indiscriminate use of the term HRD for training. HRD is an important yet complex part of the HR function. It aims at improving the competencies of people, their growth and development, their role and their motivation (Nair & Rao, 1991). The four main planks of HRD process have been proposed by Udai Pareek as a) development of identity of individuals, roles, and the
By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 1 of 10

organization b) managing powers effectively c) creating synergy and d) achieving equity and justice in rewards (Pareek, 1991). Besides training, HRD includes proper induction, placement, involvement, motivation, performance appraisal, career planning and much more. The HRD agenda includes raising managerial competence, strengthening managerial system discipline, deepening worker involvement and earning union partnership (Athreya, 1991). The glamorisation of HRD to link it to managerial employees only is fast fading with the realisation of importance of entire workforce as a team including the unionised employees. Joubert said long ago that genius begins great works, labour alone finishes them. HRD strives to minimise distinctions between employees, developing them, encouraging teamwork and involvement and evolving free communication and information sharing (Krishnamurthy, 1991). HRD focuses on development rather than control. Before deliberating on what HRD should do to ensure improvement in energy of business enterprises, we can enumerate the following as the basic roles and functions of HRD. Its roles include: • Performance and potential appraisal of employees • Developing their abilities, skills and competence so that they efficiently perform their present roles with drive, determination and competitive edge and preparing them for the future expected roles so that they are able to further their own growth and the prosperity of the organisation. • Development of total organisational health • Developing diagnostic capabilities • Improving decision-making skills within organisation • Involving employees to establish their sense of identity with the organisation and making them feel that they are partners in progress. • Motivating them to excel and contribute their latent potential through their dedication, commitment and willing co-operation and appraising them of their contribution by rewarding their good work. • Promoting collaboration and team spirit by establishing a climate of trust, openness, mutuality and interdependence. • Enabling employees to grow with the organisation • Helping in congruence of individual aspirations and organisational expectations and • Optimising human resources

Energizing business through HRD
Most of the time, in most organisations, HRD departments focus
By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 2 of 10

their efforts in training activities. These may include training need identification with debatable degrees of performance and potential appraisal, course design, courseware development, training delivery and perhaps some evaluation of effectiveness of such training with regard to organisational performance. In wake of workforce rationalisations prevailing across organisations, HRD functionaries have since undertaken some confidence building activities through communication among employees about the need for such rationalisations. These are important activities. However, there are several other expectations from HRD at current times. We will take up them one by one. Maximizing learning from training People learn in different ways and at speeds varying across individuals and also through occasions for the same person. Every episode of training activities should be adapted to maximize learning for the target audience. Some points requiring extra attention from HRD professionals are enumerated below. • Know the trainees – their dominant information processing mode (Left/Right brain dominance), correlation between their career plan and the contents of training, actual and perceived barriers to learning as well as on-job application that of, their preferred manner of learning etc. – and adjust content and delivery accordingly. • Make the environment more learning-friendly. Low stress, relaxed alertness, heightened confidence in self-capabilities, informality, fun in learning – all these facilitate learning. Even the ambience matters more than what meets the eye. • Promote and provide opportunities for self-discovery. Selfdiscovered knowledge remains the longest in memory (Kondeti, 2000). Training sessions need to be planned and designed so that there is a progression from simple to complex and there are ample opportunities, information and infrastructure for discovery in course of such progression with trainer acting more like a guide than teacher. • Sensitise the supervisors to make learning from mistakes possible. Proper communication about mistakes committed and an environment of collective corrective responsibility help people learn from their mistakes and reduce the possibility of fear of failure surpassing need of achievement – resulting in decreased levels of individual contribution.

By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 3 of 10

Access to experts and knowledgeable people even off training sessions and availability of modern learning tools and methods during training programmes are great aids to learning.

Quality and cost initiatives Nothing needs to be said about the importance of quality and cost related initiatives to be sustained and increased by businesses. HRD can and needs to help the organisation in this endeavour by the following. • Effective awareness communication emphasising need for such initiatives. • Upgrading technical and job skills, cost-benefit management skills, value analysis etc. • Effecting a transition of culture from inspection to quality control and from simple cost cutting approach to benefit cost orientation, through attitude modification efforts. • Aligning top and senior management to the new challenge. • Context-relevant and job-specific training for cost control, cost reduction, quality improvement and quality consistency. Improvement in responsiveness In an age where what morning newspapers carry are more of history than news to the readers; speed of response of business to its customers and so that of the intra-organisation response have assumed unprecedented importance. HRD can greatly improve organisations on this count by helping in the following areas. • Facilitate Role Analysis to enhance role-clarity. It will also pave way for organisational restructuring, if required in order to reduce reporting levels. • Help design quick and effective communication structures. • Provide necessary attitudinal inputs to encourage delegation, improve system discipline, change culture from re-active to proactive and introversion to external orientation. • Improve the time management, micro planning, and monitoring and control skills throughout the organisation. • Attitudinal modification of managers against what is known as “Peter’s Prognosis”. Multitasking Multitasking is essential in today’s organisations. It helps organisation not only in sustaining business with reduced flab. It shows the employees that organisation trusts in their capability to contribute more. As a great motivational tool, it provides employees a foundation
By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 4 of 10

upon which they can map their career progress. HRD finds a twofold role for itself in this area. The first is obvious one of providing required training and education. Other one of providing attitudinal inputs to accept multitasking as motivator is equally important. Organisational Climate An organisation can obtain much more or much less from same employees depending upon the climate prevailing there. Encouragement to make suggestions and objective recognition facilitate higher employee involvement (Kanhaiya, 2000). Mutual trust develops among employees when the environment is open and honest (Ahuja, 2002). Transparency in actions and communications is important in reducing the effect of vested destabilisers that may be present in or around the organisation due to various factors. HRD has to ensure existence of good climate by motivating top and senior management and facilitating creation of requisite systems, procedures, methods and policies. Promoting Innovation Innovation is a strategy for extending quality, cost and speed advantages (Rao, 1991). Innovation must be focussed and needbased. Promoting innovation is a crown contribution HRD can make towards increasing organisational potential and energy. Some points need attention. • The first challenge before HRD may be to motivate and educate leaders. Innovation can be fruitful only if it operates with the credibility of leaders and culturally creativity/ innovativeness is not perceived as opposite of leadership. • Managers may require being oriented to make organisational processes more consultative and to improve the climate such that passion for innovation is nurtured. • The employees need to be motivated to innovate. They may be aligned to accept that the path followed by them may not be the best, though correct. • HRD must train people at all levels to infuse attitudes, knowledge and skills for enthusiastic use for innovation. • HRD should facilitate framing of policies and procedures to engrain innovation in performance plans and for recognition of the same through psychological and financial rewards. Modifying locus of control Indians in general have marked leaning towards external locus of control. That is to say that they have a general belief that the nature of outcomes of their behaviour depends mostly on outside forces beyond
By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 5 of 10

their control. This external expectancy, in a way, affects selfconfidence as well as the zeal to contribute. If the reward mechanisms operating within the organisation are vague, opaque, or corroborative to the externality of locus, good performers too start increasing their interest in influencing the external factors to rewards. This is usually at the cost of productive contribution. Reinforcement manipulations as well as proper communications may help in improving internality in expectations and thereby improvement in levels of contribution, involvement and belongingness with the organisation. HRD can facilitate suitable modifications in the organisational systems so that practices do not increase or reinforce externality. Any slight shift of the locus towards internality will add to energy level of the human resources. Illuminating the Leaders Employees need to travel from compliance to initiative. They most of the time perceive it to be a difficult journey. Leaders may find some difficulties having been thrown up directly by them. Roots of some difficulties may be traced to them and some difficulties may actually be in waiting for eradication by the leader. HRD has a great role in illuminating the leaders at all levels so that employees find opportunities and drive to perform more vigorously towards organisational goal than complying with instructions. Ritualistic consultations, coercive consents, presumptuous concurrences or strategic silences should never be allowed to mar consultative practices. The system should encourage queries being raised by the innocent boy of the famous story about the emperor’s clothes who, unlike the courtiers, could not see any attire on the disrobed king. As Russell (1922) said “I find myself unable to be sure of the rightness of a theory, merely on the ground that I cannot see any point on which it is wrong.” Impact of training is higher under leaders who encourage experimentation (Singh, 1993). The less bureaucratic approach a leader displays, more she achieves in terms of ability utilisation of her people. The contrasting value sets acquired by manager-leaders through early socialisation in collectivist culture and western management education based on individualistic ethos need to be balanced as per situation so that consistency in the productivity of response is maintained. Creating a Learning Organisation Management in new millennium needs to bring to reality the concept of organisational learning (Smith & Taylor, 1999). This
By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 6 of 10

requires, a great contribution from the HRD professionals. Some points are noted below for consideration. • HRD has to propagate the notion of ‘thoroughly conscious ignorance that is prelude to every real advance in knowledge’. Everyone must learn to shed the ego that hinders learning. Chakraborty (1991) sums up this in “I have a mind but I am not the mind.” • Development of ability to learn and infrastructure to realise knowledge management are mainly the HRD professionals’ challenge. • Systems should be designed and put in place to facilitate learning of all employees, documentation of mistakes and setbacks – not for administrative responsibility fixing but for learning from history and encouraging application of learning.

Energizing the Energizer – Pre-requisites
We have so far discussed much about what HRD can and should do to energize the business enterprise and expand the potential of the human resource. But, HRD also needs certain enablers from the organization and from within. Let us briefly scan those pre- requisites. Manpower and capability profiles HRD must have access to complete manpower and capability profiles along with the job profiles so that the competency gaps can be assessed and actions for bridging them can be planned. The other arms of HRM like Personnel, OD and IR must cooperate and coordinate with HRD in collection and continual enrichment of such information. Future Business/ Technology Plans HRD angle of all future business and technological plans must be analysed professionally. This calls for integrated involvement of HRD professionals at certain stage in discussions leading to relevant decision-making. Proper HRD plans should also be drawn up in tandem with financial, material, projects and administrative planning. Net Value Addition Rewards In order to encourage more effective transfer of the outcomes of various HRD interventions to actual job situations, the rewardpunishment structures should be designed to incorporate significant net value addition rewards such that absence of reward on account of failure to create net value addition even after facilitation and training amounts to negative reinforcement and every employee strives for
By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 7 of 10

training, demands for facilitation and yearns to apply new learning at work – thereby increasing effectiveness of HRD efforts. Policies related to Career Advancement, Placement etc. Career advancement is a confirmed craving for every employee. Policies should incorporate application of training in career advancement decisions. At the same time placement of right man at the right job, training strictly as per job-requirements and placement to utilise learnt skills are essential. HRM activities should keep these in mind. Unqualified support from top management Traditionally, human resources are considered asset of custodians of other resources being utilized by concerned humans, and their development is considered responsibility and isolated activity of HRD department. ROTI (return on training investment) being a complicated index to measure also adds to the situation where HRD gets less support than may be required to increase ROTI. This spiral needs to be broken. Unqualified support to and high faith in HRD from top management would make it more productive and real energizer. This will also ensure synergy of HRD with other arms like operations. Some organizations having built HRD into Key Result Area of members of the top management have been able to get better results from HRD than the others. Dedication of HRD Professionals It is sadly true that dedication of trainers and HRD practitioners too has a lot of scope for enhancement. Sometimes placement of less interested or suitable employees in this functional area may be detectible. There are occasions when like other employees, HRD employees also suffer a beating on their dedication due to various factors including external locus of control and perceived lack of trust or support. HRD professionals need an environment conducive for their enthusiastic performance. At the same time, selection for HRD responsibility should be more careful wherever so required. Professionals in this area should perform with high level of zeal and religious dedication. Rao (1991) says, “The HRD function is in a way a spiritual function” and “Such a work involves besides competencies in HRD, highly spirited staff who are willing sacrifice the temporary for the long-term, personal power for building the organisational power, mechanics for the spirit, short-term tangibles for long-term intangibles and so on”. HRD professionals should practice reflection on their actions. Unintended or unanticipated consequences of their interventions
By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 8 of 10

should be analysed and studied by them for their own learning rather than indulgence in buck-passing games. They should acquaint themselves with overall business of the business they are in, so as to be able to contribute in strategic planning. And, as trainers, they must see to it that they do not become bound by certain syllabi but should ensure very Practical orientation in Curriculum design, Delivery system and Post training follow-up. Thus the business enterprises may see themselves rising energetically above and above on the ladder held by its human resources nurtured and nutritioned by their HRD practitioners.

*** *** *** *** ***
References: Ahuja, N. (Jan. 2002). Recession gyan. Human Capital, 5 (8), 48-49. Bhattacharyya, D. K. (Aug. 2002). Managing innovation and creativity. Indian Management, 41 (5), 22-23. Chakraborty, S. K. (1991). Managerial Effectiveness and quality of worklife. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. Drucker, P. F. (1989). The practice of management. Ahmedabad: Allied Publishers. Kanhaiya, K.S.S. (Aug. 2000). New role for managers. Indian Management, 39 (8), 78-79. Kondeti, Samuel S. (Aug. 2000). Seven steps to enrich learning without seminars. Indian Management, 39 (8), 25-27. Krishnamurthy, V. (1991). Towards excellence in productivity through HRD. In Nair, M. R. R. & Rao, T. V. (Eds.), Excellence through human resource development (pp. 3-15). New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. Nair. M. R. R. & Rao, T. V. (1991). Preface. In Nair, M. R. R. & Rao, T. V. (Eds.), Excellence through human resource development (pp. v-vii). New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. Pareek U. (1991). The making of HRD facilitator. In Nair, M. R. R. & Rao, T. V. (Eds.), Excellence through human resource development (pp. 108-115). New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. Peter, Dr. J. L. & Hull, R. (1993). The Peter Principle : Why things always go wrong. Delhi: Padu Publications. Raje, P. (Dec. 2002). What the charts indicate. Indian Management, 41 (9), 68-69.

By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 9 of 10

Rao, T. V. (1991). HRD managers and their role. In Nair, M. R. R. & Rao, T. V. (Eds.), Excellence through human resource development (pp. 80-89). New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. Rotter, J. B. ( 1966). Generalized expectancies for internal and external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monograph, 30 (1). Russell, B. (1971). Introduction (May 1922). In Wittgenstein, L. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (pp. ix-xxii). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Shermon, G. (Dec. 2002). The learning focus. Indian Management, 41 (9), 72-74. Singh, P. N. (1993). Your role in making managerial programmes more effective. In Singh, P. N. (Ed.), Success unlimited (pp. 48-50). Bombay: Suchandra Publications. Smith, Dr. K. D. & Taylor, Dr. W. G. K. (Apr. – Jun. 1999). Management in the new millennium – Towards a learning organisation. Growth, 27 (1), 3-8.


By Dr. KSS Kanhaiya, First Published in 2003:

Page 10 of 10

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful