As we know, the term ‘human resource management’ underlines a belief that people really make the difference, only people among other resources have the capacity to generate value. However, the human resource management is considered as the ‘Cinderella’ in the organization as its importance has not been discovered by the senior managers, in addition, it has to share responsibilities with line managers, sometimes it takes more work than it is expected. Actions should be taken to help the Cinderella find her glass shoes.
2. THE ROLE OF THE HRM
Human resource management (HRM), as defined by Bratton, J. & Gold, J. (2003), is
“A strategic approach to managing employment relations which emphasizes that leveraging people’s capabilities is critical to achieving sustainable competitive advantage, this being achieved through a distinctive set of integrated employment policies, programmes and practices.”
According to this definition, we can see that human resource management should not merely handle recruitment, pay, and discharging, but also should maximize the use of an organization's human resources in a more strategic level. To describe what the HRM does in the organization, Ulrich, D. & Brocklebank, W. (2005) have outlined some of the HRM roles such as employee advocate, human capital developer, functional expert, strategic partner and HR leader etc.
It seems that HRM is so crucial to the organization, for what it does has nearly covered all aspects of the business – from strategic planning to the training and development, but unfortunately, its importance has not been accepted by everyone. As proposed by Morton, C, Newall, A. & Sparkes, J. (2001) there are three different views of HR function within the organization:
From one perspective, the HR role is seen as a totem pole. They thought HR is a single-axis solution reflecting competition in the corporate hierarchy.
Another prospective they proposed focuses on the size and perceived influence of the function. Sometimes this measured clout will be affected by how much of the function is outsourced. E.g. A residual head of HR deals with strategy with no real structure below him or her until the junior ranks are reached, while other tasks are absorbed by the line or outsourced.
Finally, the third prospective is gaining ground – the organization can operate with no HR function at all. It used to be thought that people were not the real issue, so no specific help was needed beyond dealing with pay and rations.
From the first perspective, we can see that the influence of HR function is limited by the traditional hierarchy. The HR function may act in a more reactive way for what it has to do is just focus on its own profession. Just like Cinderella, who performs all the household's menial tasks and must live and work among the ashes on the hearth. It has not much relation to its peer functions, and the links and dependencies between HR strategy and business strategy are weak.
From the second prospective, Newall, A. & Sparkes, J. (2001) raised their concerns that ‘although junior posts may still exist in HR, there are real questions about how the organization develops careers and produce its HR directors of tomorrow.’ In this story, the sisters (line-managers and other suppliers) will not care about her (HR of the organization) future.
And from the third prospective, it thought that people were not the real issue, so no specific help was needed beyond dealing with pay and rations. But today, it could not be the case especially in the big company, for the reason that if there is no HR function within the organization, all the line-managers have to undertake the responsibility, and they will be struggling with their workload.
3. THE CHANGING HR FUNCTION
How can we bring the Cinderella to the prince? How can we bring HR function to the notice of CEO? Tamkin (2006) has conducted a survey in the last year, asking the...