Dealing With Current Human Relations Problems
Leadership failures occur most frequently because of ineptness, the inability to catch up with development requirements or simply because of a wrong diagnosis or handling of problems (Heisler 1989). Newer and more unprecedented changes and forces keep coming and, in many cases, they do not get addressed adequately because of a company’s adherence to old ways. Managers and leaders get accustomed to old laws of doing things and, with the ingress of new developments, old programs prove ineffective, cash-draining and result in employee restiveness. There is urgent need to change the American business culture from a fast-buck and short-change format to a long-term and employee-oriented action as the only way to build or remain competitive. And there is greater need to adopt a system or a new vision in making a correct diagnosis and implementing correct responses to new problems within or affecting the human resources department.
Foremost among these new problems and issues are on health care, information technology and the management system (Heisler).
Findings and Conclusion
In the past, health care costs were considered a problem to management and have always been an issue on the bargaining table between labor and management (Jordhal 1992), as these costs are part of the worker’s compensation package. With rising health costs, this issue has gone into deeper levels for both sides of the table. Rather than take an adversarial position, labor and management can agree to cooperate in the shared goal of adequately responding to increasing health and dependence care costs as well as . A number of businesses have opted for innovative programs to promote partnership between management and a labor union and, as experience shows, these programs have conduced to employee productiveness.
One such business was Nynex Corporation, which embarked into a labor/management partnership to provide funding assistance for child or elderly care in places where its employees live and work (Jordhal 1992). Another was General Motors, which adopted a system to help its employees who and to provide counseling to enable them to reduce or contain stress, thus save on mental health benefits that raise costs. A third example is , which keeps a labor/management health care committee that determines alternatives to health care coverage before signing work contracts. And a wellness program jointly with management.
MRC Bearings President Mike Piazza noted employees’ favorable response to the effort and assumed that they appreciate the connection between wellness and the health care cost effort expended by management (Jordhal 1992). He admitted, though, that his company had not measured short-term cost impact, but expected their efforts to modify employee behavior to create positive impact on the costs. Truck-Life Company, Inc. human resources manager Jose Zeman would suggest companies to encourage teamwork in order to sustain such partnership and to focus closely on the membership dynamics of those responsible for its implementation. Truck-Life produces vehicular lighting with 500 workers, approximately 300 of whom are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Its partnership is being implemented by an Employee Involvement and Betterment Team, which also oversees the operation of smaller teams in areas such as nutrition, testing, fitness and health education (Jordhal).
Another problem area in human resources is the introduction of increasingly new information technology and its role in industrial failure and loss (Thorp 1999). The experiences of Hershey, Whirlpool, Starbucks and Bang & Olufsen are sound lessons to learn. Hershey’s biggest travail was a new computer system, Starbucks’ internet start-ups expenses hurt its earnings, while Bang & Olufsen confronts financial shortage because of the SAP software and Whirpool faced shipping problems in an attempt to go live and blamed the same SAP for it. These disasters tell businesses that management must drop the “silver bullet” approach of simply plugging new technology in and waiting for benefits and profits to come in. Empirical evidence says something else and points to that kind of thinking as a major cause of failure.
New technology hurdles are not technology problems, but a business management problem that confronts and upsets both labor and management (Thorp 1999). Automating industrial processes and benefits was relatively easy to learn and adopt when first getting acquainted with information technology or it within the main office or immediate environs. But supply chain and electronic commerce and knowledge management are more complicated and much more is at stake in them.
The fact is that technology handles or comprises only 5-15% of the business required to attain full benefits (Thorp 1999). The rest of the function is the evaluating or re-thinking of the overall business system from the details of processes all the way up to the very nature of the business or industry. Organizations now implement change, not technology, and the proverbial plugging of technology to operate and realize benefits has become inadequate. The need of the hour is to come up with a new approach that would realize the benefits and profits of investments in the realm of it-enabled change or changes. This means refocusing beyond merely managing technology projects separately from business programs. It raises technology problems to the business level, from the local or basic business level to the overall industrial viewpoint. It requires the evaluation of business programs, through which only the best are sifted and managed s a portfolio of programs. This major or radical shift in management approach also makes decision-making, not a single-time event, but a proactively managed occurrence that should carry through the full delivery of the product or service.
The it section of the human resource department may be held answerable for the delivery of technical capabilities, the business itself is answerable for those it capabilities along with other capabilities in providing or delivering the final product or service to its market (Thorp 1999). The business and its it department must cooperate in deciding what they want to achieve or produce, who will be accountable for what, how achievement will be measured and how program should be managed. The new approach to benefits realization demands a new environment wherein labor and management must really work together in order to succeed. No less than a long-term, sustained and combined change effort between them is necessitated on how organizations should now think, manage and act. It is a decision that will not change everything overnight but must be started soon enough if not now. It will benefit every business program, whether still evolving, current or encountering trouble with the lessons it teaches in responding to the challenge of “reinventing” itself as an industrial competitor (Thorp).
This century and oncoming ones require and will require a business to invest heavily but wisely on its human resource (Tellier 1999). The organization cannot function without it. And for employees to function well, they must be trained for their function.
Technology continues to evolve and become more and more sophisticated and complicated. In response, employees who will operate technology should be more intensely trained in keeping abreast with continuously expanding technology. Each employee needs to better understand how his or her individual performance will affect the business that invests on his or her performance. This investment includes listening to his or her comments and acting on these comments, aptly recognizing their contributions to the organization and, best of all, respecting them as fellow workers who possess dignity as human beings.
An employee’s pay must be commensurate to his or her performance and contribution to the overall success of the company. In turn, company success must be equated with industrial performance and prompt delivery of service or product to the market (Thorp 1999). Chronically poor performance is a bane and something that management must know how to tackle well.
The traditional options towards chronically poor performers have been limited to firing, bearing with their lack of productivity but continuing to compensate them, and moving them to another position or location within the company (Yandrick 1995). These options have remained un-appealing to both sides and put the supervisor while displacing the poor performers. The World Bank came up with a formula that human resource managers can integrate into their performance-management training in dealing with stubborn manpower problems. Problem employees will continue to emerge in an organization and afflict management, no matter how extensive a supervisor’s training has been in labor-management relations, the disciplinary process and employee relations (Yandrick). A supervisor is usually trained to evaluate employee skills without reference to their individual personal problems and environmental factors that bring the poor performance about. Yet the supervisor should be able to spot the cause behind the poor performance or conduct, which can be an improper work attitude, emotional problems, substance abuse, or other family concerns. The World Bank’s formula is intended to complement the standard model of performance management and consists of goal setting, continuous performance monitoring, feedback and adjustment between supervisor and employee. This suggested formula grew out of the failure of many organizations to provide their supervisors with proper assessment skills in identifying and intervening in their employees’ problems as well as their failure to provide supportive resources necessary to fill the performance void.
The World Bank model centers on a the Performance Advisory Service or PAS (Yandrick 1995). PAS trains supervisors to analyze work performance and personality problems. The supervisor first determines if a skill deficiency is involved or there are personal and environmental factors. He does this by reviewing the employee’s records in search of troubled behavioral patterns; consulting with work team leaders, colleagues and support staff in investigating possible problems within the organization; and/or directly exploring the employee’s work performance and conduct.
In the last option, the supervisor may ask or remind the employee about the consequence of poor performance; if he or she is being rewarded for poor or nonperformance; if performance matters to him or her; if there are health or stress factors conducing to his or her poor or low-level performance; or if there are external stimuli behind it. Armed now with the different angles and dimensions of the performance problem, the supervisor develops a plan to improve that performance or restore it to the previously sound level. The solution may or may not come on quickly, but the supervisor is to monitor the change. The performance plan often involves the WB’s resources, such as the ombudsman, staff counseling services, career advisory program, legal department or health services department.
In most cases, the PAS training leads the supervisor to adopt its case management approach instead of simply improving on his own approach (Yandrick 1995). It corrects the traditional hard-line punch shown or given to poor performers by sending the accurate message that “you get what you reinforce.” PAS trainers demonstrate the appropriate techniques whereby the supervisor and the employee can arrive at a satisfactory solution together. Donald Philips offered a Coaching and Counseling Model, consisting of four stages, i.e, corrective feedback, problem solving, consultation, and corrective interview.
Philips also emphasized that the supervisor or manager needs to reduce the incidence and potential of workplace violence and that performance management training should include and integrate such a need. He noted that critical incidents of violence do not occur entirely in the workplace and to workplace events that traumatize victims and witnesses: these include acts that precede the events. He enumerated critical incidents like physical violence or threats of violence; injury or accident while on duty; mild to severe physical or mental defect; weird talks or behavior; threats of suicide; sudden death of a fellow-worker; and intimidating, threatening or abusive speech or acts. He stressed the need to refer the incidents to a power-assessment resource to prevent or diffuse the likelihood of these occurrences. Otherwise, there should be a critical debriefing if the incidents had already happened.
World Bank adviser Michael Collins advanced that performance case management helps in rendering equitable solutions to employee conduct or work-performance problems (Yandrick 1995). This is made possible by the problem-resolution introduced by PAS for under-achieving employees while fulfilling their duties to the organization. Supervisors get the opportunity to understand the process and motivate them to use it.
The roles of WB’s PAS are the prompt resolution of all performance problems and issues; install firm adherence to job-grade performance issues and problems; the clear and consistent application of policies and procedures throughout the organization; the modification of human resource policies and procedures in facilitating a fair resolution of the problems or issues; implementation of improvement plans aimed at resolving or preventing stubborn problems; and close monitoring of performance issues by helping supervisors and managers identify peer-related employee performance discrepancies.
After taking serious stock of manpower issues on health care costs, adjustments to it developments and a World-Bank case performance Model for chronically performing employees, there also appears a need for well-trained managers. Many even believe that management development must precede all other considerations. The shortage or absence of appropriate management skills indicates organizational problems themselves, rather than the incompetence or skills deficiency of the individual manager (Kent 2003).
Recent case studies show that some organizations exhibit a need for a general management system that makes sure the fundamental management practices are conducted and independently of individual personalities or preferences. This system must possess operating procedures that clarify employees’ roles; insure that the departments would benefit from their working together; install and operate procedures that would facilitate that cooperation; the identification and resolution of performance problems in a quick, constructive and equitable way; that managers would observe employee-constructive practices; and other fundamental management activities, but this general management system would make establish these practices as the standard behavior and culture of the company, rather than the way individual managers are inclined to impose.
Managers, like their subordinate employees, also need to be managed (Kent 2003). They have just the same right and duty to seek clear direction from their supervisor or chief and receive supportive coaching and direction. Their roles and their CEOs expectations of them must be clear to them. In order to provide this information and direction, the CEO needs to apply the general management system. When this happens, management practices will be consistently applied to entire manpower hierarchy and complement from top to bottom (Kent).
Many businesses confront difficulty or fail on account of a wrong diagnosis of their organizational problems or a stubborn persistence to outmoded ways of handling management problems. The most important and the most difficult center on human resources and health care costs, the wrong and “silver-bullet” concept about information technology, chronically poor performance and the need for a general management system for both the rank-and-file and the managers themselves.
Some companies have begun experimenting on a labor/management partnership in responding to inevitable and rising costs of health care. A number have found their models effective so far but current measures at least are in tune with the reality and inevitableness of health care. The cooperative effort seems headed in the right direction from a right diagnosis of a problem and suggests that ensuing problems will ably handled as long as cooperative efforts remain.
The World Bank came up with a PAS model in assisting businesses in their dealings with problem workers, such as chronically poor performers. The model explores the issue more deeply and honestly and does away with the hard-line approach of simply and summarily firing, demoting or transferring the dysfunctional employee.
There have also been advocates of a general management system, which will insure the operation of fundamental management practices independently of individual personalities and preferences, to keep the organization grinding, cohesive and productive. They also stressed the manager’s right and need to be managed by his superiors.
These developments and openness to change, coupled by a demonstrated willingness to respond to that change, indicate that the right attitude has been put in place and a correct diagnosis of management, especially in human resource, is being made at the moment.
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