In today’s competitive workforce, it is almost impossible for any organization to be competitive if it does not integrate human resource development into its strategic plan. Human resource development (HRD) is a practice that combines training, organizational development, and career development efforts to encourage improvement of individual, group, and organizational performance. Its purpose is to enhance employee performance and productivity, which leads to employee and customer satisfaction and an increase in the profitability of the organization.
Human resource development efforts are necessary for any organization so that the employees and managers of the organization are kept abreast of developments in their industry as well as the market forces at work that may present opportunities or threats. Organizations that implement human resource development are referred to as learning organizations.
The Steps in Establishing a Learning Organization
How are learning organizations established? One way is to establish partnerships within the organization. When the people in the organization come together with a shared vision, they are able to draw upon the strengths of the group’s dynamics. With their combined ideas and attitudes toward work, they can help produce knowledge and add to the learning process. Group dynamics, however, will often fail if not supported from managers. The type of leadership given to employees from managers is referred to as transformational leadership. Transformational leadership is effective in the establishment of a learning organization because it gives subordinates the power to contribute to the success of the organization. The power of leadership creates a culture in which all employees are working toward the same goal. When this happens, shared learning throughout the organization naturally occurs.
Another important step in establishing a learning organization is recognizing the organization as a whole system. When viewed as a whole system, any problems or issues are viewed as part of the overall organization and not one single department is blamed. In order to recognize an organization as a whole system, a set of rules and processes using common language and definitions is used to make it easier for employees to share knowledge and understand each other.
Information Technology Also Plays a Role
It is also essential to incorporate knowledge and processes and make them available to all employees as part of the process of establishing a learning organization. The use of Information Technology (IT) is a good method for people within the organization to access information. IT gives employees a way to share their knowledge with the entire organization. IT makes it possible to organize the knowledge of individual employees and teams within the organization and help different departments implement such knowledge.
Where people are present, HRD should also be present. Where people need to acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) to contribute effectively to accomplishing an organization’s goals, HRD professionals should be engaged. Where employees wish to expand into new positions or take on new, superior, or broader responsibilities, an HRD professional is needed. Where the environment changes due to new technology, globalization, and demographics, HRD professionals are needed to help prepare employees for the change.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development