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HRD for Business Energy

BE, DCPA, MBA, MA(App. Psy.), PhD(Mgmt.)

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

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

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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
• 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
• 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

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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
• 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. Self-
discovered 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.

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• 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
• Effective awareness communication emphasising need for such
• 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 pro-
active 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 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

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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 need-
based. 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

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their control. This external expectancy, in a way, affects self-
confidence 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

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

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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’
• 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

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 reward-
punishment 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

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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

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

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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.
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