Human Resource Management : The Importance of Effective

Human Resource Management : The
Importance of Effective Strategy and
Professor John Taylor
Centre for Higher Education Management and Policy
University of Southampton
Change in Higher Education
Massification – growth in student numbers; increasing diversification
in students
Pressures on funding – reductions in unit of resource; importance of
value for money
The quality movement – quality assurance and assessment
Globalisation and internationalisation – new approaches, new ways
of working
New technology – in teaching, research and management
Markets and competition
The Importance of Planning
“A conscious process by which an institution assesses its current state and the likely future condition of its environment,
identifies possible future states for itself, and then develops organisation strategies, policies and procedures for
selecting and getting to one or more of them”
(Petersen, 1999)
Some important assumptions:
That the institution and its members are concerned about the future
That they choose to try to influence the future rather than be shaped by external factors or by key individuals
That they accept that some attempt to evaluate activities and to understand the environment can lead to benefits
Some key words:
“a conscious process” – deliberate and non-accidental
“current state” – analysis of the present position
“future states” – a forward view
“organisation strategies” – establishment of targets and development of the means for achieving them
“selecting” – the exercise of judgement
“getting to one or more of them” – clear outcomes and deliverables; emphasis
on implementation
The Planning Cycle – Planning, Documentation, Implementation, Monitoring
The Importance of Human Resources
Higher Education is a knowledge business – depends on the quality
of its staff
Growth of markets and competition for staff – with other sectors, with
other institutions
The quality movement – focus on staff, no “hiding places”
Pressure on funding – importance of staff productivity and
Change management
Legal environment – health and safety, conditions, equal
opportunities, European legislation
Strategic Plans and Operational Plans
Strategic or Corporate Plan – sets overall aims and objectives
Operational or Tactical Plans – set specific targets and actions, by
organisational units (Faculty, Department) or by activity (teaching,
research, estates, human resources)
Individual Plans – what the individual has to do
A Human Resources Strategy will aim to create and maintain a
workforce that is well motivated, appropriately trained, equitably
rewarded and which performs effectively in pursuing the institution’s
Linking Institutional Planning and the Human
Resources Strategy
Understanding the external environment. Changing demand for
subjects and research can mean too few or too many staff in
particular areas. Knowledge of market data – demand and supply of
different categories of staff.
Review of current performance in HR related areas – recruitment
and retention, employment relations, equal opportunities
Data provision eg length of service, staff movements, nature of
contracts, age, sex, salaries, ethnicity. Broken down by
organisational units. Staff surveys – satisfaction, training needs
Importance of HR involvement in strategic and operational planning
from an early stage
Some Characteristics of a good Human
Resources Strategy
Three key elements:
• Diagnostic – a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of current
practice and performance to identify both where improvement is
required and where policies and institutions are working well
• Aspirational – a vision of effective HR practices which produce
specific outcomes that contribute to achieving the institution’s
strategy, underpinned by clear values and principles
• Developmental – a plan for achieving progress and building greater
capacity to bring about change in the future (bearing in mind that
effective human resource management depends as much on good
quality line management as it does on skilled human resorce
Clear Targets
SMART targets – specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-limited
Input targets eg appointing a new member of staff
Process targets eg developing new policies or procedures, or
undertaking a review of practice
Output targets eg producing a report introducing a new payments or job
evaluation scheme
Outcome targets eg increasing the number of women in management
positions or the proportion of people with disabilities
Performance measures
Project management – subprojects, milestones
Resource Allocation
MUST be a clear link between human resource plans and resource
Clarity of approach: actions-responsibilities-outcomes-timescalecost
Assessment of progress against input. Process and output targets
Summative evaluation – what works and what doesn’t work.
Formative process
Problems of identifying cause and effect
Importance of good feedback
Implementation is assisted by:
• Adequate levels of involvement
• Feedback on performance
• Focus on what is achievable
• Clear allocation of responsibilities
• Effective training and support
• Incentives and rewards
Key Issues: Recruitment and Retention
Data collection
Comparative analysis
Identification of problems – particular disciplines (eg computing,
management, economics), particular categories of staff (eg
electronics technicians, cleaners), particular regions (eg big cities)
Some possible actions – improving the recruitment process, startup
packages, pay and rewards, market supplements, job evaluation,
career routes, fast-track promotion, training and development
Key Issues: Staff Development and Training
Necessary to enhance the institution’s skills and knowledge base
Important to identify needs at ALL levels
All categories of staff should be involved
Programmes require regular evaluation – problems of relevance
Different forms of staff development:
• Induction programmes
• Programmes for new academic staff (often linked with probation)
• Skills programmes – particular activities, new technology, updating
• Management development programmes – leadership and
Key Issues: Equal Opportunities
Data collection
Staff development
Possible actions – awareness raising, flexible working,
improvements to recruitment processes and literature, targeted skills
development, progression
Job evaluation – equal pay for equal work
Key Issues: Staff Profiles
Data collection
Audit of existing staff – current staff numbers, distribution by
grade/level of responsibility, skills profiles, age profiles (succession
planning, “new blood”), patterns of leavers and joiners (high and low
turnover), which posts are difficult to fill, staffing costs, gender
profiles, pay distribution
External environment – national and local labour markets,
comparative analysis
Link with institutional strategies – where will more/less staff be
Possible actions – training/retraining, redeployment, severance
Key Issues: Performance
Performance review – vital in improving staff effort
Must be regular
All staff are entitled to feedback
Formative process
Rewarding good performance – monetary and non-monetary
Tackling poor performance – clear agreed targets, opportunities for
training, monitoring, training for managers, clear disciplinary
procedures (including appeals)
Human Resource Strategy: Professional
What are “professional services”?
*”Administration”, “Non-academic staff”, “The Centre”, “Management”, “Support staff”, or simply “them”!
Professional services include:
Student and Registry Services (admissions, examinations, progress)
Planning and institutional research
Research support
External relations
Members of the professional services have a crucial role to play in the running of their universities:
* Key advisers in decision-making process
Efficient and effective operation
First point of contact for students and other stakeholders
Responsible for the delivery of critical services
Staff Development for Professional Services
Career development – recruitment, training and enhancement,
performance and rewards, retention
Training programmes for new staff in professional services (wide
range of backgrounds)
Specialist training and career development – professional
Training programmes for senior staff in professional services
Formal programmes; Continuing Professional Development
Some particular themes – broadening and deepening, sharing
expertise and experience, formative and process benchmarking,
leadership and management
Professor John Taylor
Centre for Higher Education and Policy at
+44 (0)23 8059 6892