Compulearn is undergoing a very rapid growth phase and has among its thrusts global expansion – that is, to grow from its current expanse of 200 centers in 30 countries to double this number in 60 countries within a 3-year period - Long-Term Strategies introduction. Given this thrust, the company must be able to address all obstacles that will prevent it from realizing its strategic goals. The following report presents the long-term and short term strategies that the company may carry out to effectively address its current people management issues.
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One of the strategies of Compulearn may consider is to find and select employees who have the right orientation towards work and productivity right at the onset. Based the recruitment strategy of the company, it does exercise this dictum in hiring IT incumbents. It advocates the idea of a right hire resulting to a quick start. It has to make this official by drafting a competency framework across all positions of Compulearn.
Based on strategic objectives and plans, competency requirements are laid down on a per position – per level basis. These competencies then become the basis of all HR systems, linking these systems clearly and logically. These same competency requirements then become the basis for targeted selection, against which potential employees are behaviorally assessed. This implies that right at the start – at the first step – of hiring, that Compulearn employees blend well into the organization’s culture and business strategy.
Competencies are general descriptions of the abilities necessary to perform a role in the organization. These are usually described in measurable terms. They differ from job descriptions – while job descriptions typically list the tasks or functions and responsibilities for a role, competencies list the abilities needed to conduct those tasks or functions (McNamara, 2005).
Assessing an individual’s specific strengths and development needs as they relate to the success profiles across levels of supervisors, managers and executive is a key component to selection, development, and promotion decisions. Information and data used to drive these decisions must be accurate and objective.
The organisation has also set up a structured selection system based on Targeted Selection. This ensures that all questions asked of candidates are behaviorally based (Development Dimensions International, 2005).
Developing and Maintaining Strategies
Enhancement of Business Critical Competencies
Among HR’s long term strategic objectives may be the launch of an umbrella training program, perhaps entitled “Putting People First” which may be focused on enhancing critical business competencies, people and leadership development, promoting a conducive organizational climate, and emphasizing a culture of performance in Compulearn.
To be able to achieve capability building, the enhancement of business critical competencies is a must. Training is absolutely essential in Compulearn’s line of work. Not only must technical skills be underscored, but people and other soft skills as well. As an international service provider, Compulearn must be particularly aware that they are dependent on the diligence, dedication and expertise of its staff in every project. It is a constant challenge to build an integrated workforce that is not only hardworking and intelligent, but superbly trained, experienced and motivated as well.
The training of its people may be dedicatedly carried out by a training group, maybe dubbed the Compulearn Learning Academy, which focuses on critical dimensions such as corporate orientation and values, technical expertise, subject matter expertise for knowledge sharing, and leadership skills to build competencies in organizational and individual perspectives. Building and enhancing employees’ performance in key business competencies is vital in facing the challenges of growth of Compulearn. As an organization, Compulearn must give top priority to its people development agenda to ensure that it continually builds the talents it needs.
There is also a clear need for developing top management, particularly the HR Director herself. She must take on a more strategic stance in addressing the issues of the company, and to break loose of her administrative role.
The change of paradigm among HR practitioners is apparent among contemporary practitioners. This does not in any way connote that HR’s administrative role is contrary to its strategic role. The concentration on the synthesis of HRM practices and policies with strategy has been depicted as a paradigm shift from a tactical to a strategic thrust or orientation (Thomason, 1991). Unlike conventional personnel management that is characterized as reactive, parochial, and concentrates on rank and file employees, HRM is proactive in finding and establishing practices and policies which are consistent across all organizational policy areas (Legge, 1989). The HRM orientation necessitates that personnel practices and policies address and adapt to organizational needs (Schuler, 1991). Moreover, HRM considers employees as valued strategic resources rather than as overhead cost. A main thrust of HRM is the potent and effective management of people within the organization – when carried out, this is expected to yield competitive advantage. When compared to conventional personnel management which regards employees as passive , HRM considers people as strategic assets who should be developed to optimize their potential (Kamoche, 1991).
The value of a clear and compelling vision has always been key to the success of all HR programs of the organisation. Thus, before HR launches any change management initiative, it ensures that top management of Compulearn has laid down a clear vision for the undertaking and has committed to support the undertaking. This practice has been applicable to the people development agenda of the company. Modern leadership literature frequently characterizes the leader as the vision holder, the keeper of the dream, or the person who has a vision of the organization’s purpose (House, 1995).
Leaders go beyond the development of a common vision; they value the human resources of their organizations. They provide an environment that promotes individual contributions to the organization’s work. Leaders develop and maintain collaborative relationships formed during the development and adoption of the shared vision. They form teams, support team efforts, develop the skills groups and individuals need, and provide the necessary resources, both human and material, to fulfill the shared vision (House, 1995).
People and Leadership Development
There is also a very constrained training and development portfolio in Compulearn. The practice has been to get onboard IT professionals who already have the requisite competencies rather than to train and develop them in-house. Moreover, there is an apparent lack of interpersonal skills, as attested to by frequent friction between management and line staff, over giving feedback in public or not complying with instructions from superiors. Confict is also apparent between office and academic staff, with the latter tasked to validate Compulearn courses. This has been attributed to the rude attitudes of office staff. There must be a deliberate effort spearheaded by HR for people and leadership development.
People and leadership development is pursued by fast tracking the development of those in ‘critical few’ business positions, not only in technical tracks but also those which deal with organizational competencies such as project management and problem solving. Strengthening our leadership bench through training of top performers and high potentials is being focused on, for effective succession management. This may be Compulearn’s way of ‘growing leaders from within’. A competency tracking tool was also designed to monitor the pace with which strategic skill gaps are being closed.
This first step involves determining and defining the key strategic objectives that are vital to the survival, success and growth of the organisation. These are similar to the “strategic elephants” described by Argenti (1989), those key issues or problems that the organisation must deal with in the next two to three years if it is to survive and prosper. They include the vision and strategy of the organisation and the external and internal factors that drive the decisions of the organisation (e.g. changing market share, return on capital, lack of human resource skills in a particular area, etc.). Compulearn must carry out this process of strategizing if it is to realize its visions of expansion.
Compulearn must then meaningfully link its training portfolio to its overall strategic thrusts. One of the biggest criticisms of many management development programs is that they do not contribute to the business objectives of the organisation. They may develop managerial skills but they do not substantially contribute to business success. It is often incorrectly assumed that if managers gain a skill they will use it to improve the business. It is important for strategic issues to be clarified and agreed on prior to the design of the leadership development program since they should determine the objectives of the program as well as the key competencies that need to be developed in the participants (Linkage, 1997). To achieve such a linkage, the company may use a strategic management tool such as the Balanced Scorecard as an HR strategy to ensure that objectives from the organisational level are meaningfully anchored on and aligned to the objectives at the departmental and individual levels.
The frequent interpersonal conflicts between line staff and management, and amongst staff of Compulearn may be representative of the lack of values promoted within the organization. One part of people and leadership development in Compulearn may be the education in and practice of the corporate values. Each one should be taught to adhere to a single, shared values system. The values of the company must be cascaded to all staff members with a view of ingraining further its shared value system.
Drafting the Right Motivational Programs
Moreover, managers may be coached on how to more effectively motivate their staff and avoid conflict. Motivation can be used to improve employee performance and productivity. Employees can be motivated to do their work better, that is, improving their work performance, and working more effectively to improve their productivity. One way is to share information (like profit and loss or quality of service) on how the employees’ department is doing in comparison with others in or out of the company (Bruce & Pepitone, 1999).
Getting employees warmed up is good, but it is not enough. After getting them initially motivated, the Compulearn manager has to help each one establish and achieve higher goals. Motivation can be a useful tool in goal setting by pointing out targets that will bring employees out of their comfort zones (Hiam, 1999). With goal setting, each employee is given a goal, which might be a particular quality level, a certain quantity of output, or a combination of the two. For goal setting to be most successful, the goals themselves should possess certain qualities. First, they should be concrete and specific. Setting more specific subgoals can also improve performance (Klawsky, 1990). Second, a properly set goal is high but reasonable (Locke & Latham, 1990).
Motivation is a useful tool, not only when setting higher work performance goals, but in assessing the success or failure of employee efforts. Through the use of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement, Compulearn managers can sustain organizational morale and help employees overcome falling enthusiasm or a lack of personal ambition (Heller, 1998).
To increase the effectiveness of goal setting by Compulearn managers, feedback should be provided to the employee on his progress in reaching his goal. Feedback can include verbally telling an employee how he is doing, placing a chart on a wall, or displaying a certain color of light when the employee’s work pace will result in goal attainment and a different color of light when the pace is too slow to reach the goal. Feedback increases performance best when it is positive and informational rather than negative and controlling (Heller, 1998).
Obviously, it is important to reward employees for productive work behavior. But different employees like different types of rewards, which is why supervisors should have access to and be trained to administer different types of reinforcers. For example, some employees can be rewarded with praise, others with interesting work, and still others with money (Filipczak, 1993). In fact, a meta-analysis by Stajkovic and Luthans (1997) found that financial, nonfinancial, and social rewards all resulted in increased levels of performance.
Culture is a very critical factor to consider when drafting motivational programs or initiatives for Compulearn employees and in judging which style of leadership is most apt. This is particularly true for such an organization which is global and may be sending expatriates to Compulearn’s satellite offices offhshore. The research in this area mentions three elements attributable to the leadership styles of different cultures; a stress on market processes, a stress on the individual, and a focus on managers rather than rank and file employees. As a result there is a growing awareness of need for a better understanding of the way in which leadership is enacted in various cultures and a need for an empirically grounded theory to explain differential leader behavior and effectiveness across cultures (House, 1995).
Culture profiles derived from Hofstede’s theoretical dimensions of cultures, yield many hypotheses regarding cross-cultural differences in leadership. Hofstede’s dimensions of culture are: uncertainty avoidance, power distance, masculinity-femininity, individualism-collectivism, and future orientation. High uncertainty avoidance cultures, with the resulting emphasis on rules, procedures and traditions may place demands on leaders not expected in low uncertainty avoidance cultures (Hartog et al., 1999). This may be important to Compulearn in the long-term to ensure the viability of its business despite differences in norms and cultures of its management and employees.
Research indicates that leadership exists in all societies and is essential to the functioning of organizations within societies (Weathersby, 1998). Because individuals have their own ideas about the nature of leaders and leadership, they develop idiosyncratic theories of leadership. As such, an individual’s implicit leadership theory refers to beliefs held about how leaders behave in general and what is expected of them. This type of attribution process provides a basis for social power and influence (Weathersby, 1998). In recent years, decision-making models in business organizations have emerged as a significant factor in the determination of the organization’s success or failure. Organizations require that individuals carry out job assignments dependably, make creative suggestions, and carry out self-training (Katz, 1958). However, the organization does not obtain all these behaviors simply through hiring the employee. The right or optimal match between leadership style and motivational programs will thus lead to sustenance, if not an increase in employee’s productivity. With cutthroat competition and dynamism within its industry, HR management of Compulearn ought to look more profoundly into the implications of motivational programs, and attempt to draft programs that leverage on these. Ultimately, a highly motivated and empowered workforce is the most certain way of putting in more into Compulearn’s coffers.
Maintaining and Retaining Strategies
Promotion of a Conducive Organizational Climate
There is notable turnover among IT professionals in Compulearn, with compensation being cited as a primary reason. There may be some perception of favoritism for Sales staff, for whom the whole training budget is alloted; the Managing Director describes them as “the jewels of the company”.
Turnover includes the arrival of new employees and the departure of existing employees, but most research on turnover focuses on leaving rather than on entering the organization (Price, 2001). Turnover can be classified into two categories: voluntary and involuntary turnover. Voluntary turnover occurs when the employee terminates the employment relationship (Price, 1997). Involuntary turnover is when the employee wants to stay but the employer decides to terminate the relationship (Dess & Shaw, 2001). Price (2001) found that most turnover is voluntary and is, therefore, potentially avoidable and controllable, costly, and disruptive to an organization. Wiley (1993) thought that voluntary turnover could be caused by a number of factors including poor job feedback, job dissatisfaction, unmet job expectations, performance problems, situational constraints, socialization difficulties, greater degree of job stress, and a lack of career advancement opportunities.
Moreover, in an effort to maintain a conducive organizational climate, Compulearn must emphasize worklife balance initiatives. Moreover, each employee’s stay in the company is made worthwhile by emphasizing on skills development and employability. In addition, the rewards system of the company is performance-based rather than tenure or entitlement-based. This ensures that rewards are given out equitably to those who contribute more to organizational bottomlines. In other words, there must be no favoritism if employee productivity is to be enhanced. In effect, employees will perceive that they get rewards commensurate to their efforts.
The degree of inequity that an employee feels when underpaid appears to be a function of whether the employee chose actions that resulted in underpayment (Cropanzano & Folger, 1989). That is, if an employee chooses to work harder than others who are paid the same, he will not feel cheated, but if he is pressured into working harder for the same pay, he will be unhappy.
Victor Vroom’s expectancy theory refers to three factors: (1) valence (value placed on the expected reward), (2) expectancy (belief that efforts are linked to performance), and (3) instrumentality (belief) that performance is related to rewards (Gagne & Deci, 2005). Porter and Lawler built on Vroom’s theory by proposing a model of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation. People are extrinsically motivated if they do something they find interesting and from which they derive satisfaction. Also people are extrinsically motivated if they do the activity because they are satisfied with the tangible or verbal rewards attached (Gagne & Deci, 2005).
Building a Culture of Performance
Compulearn may launch and implement a banner program for performance management. It will be the main vehicle through which a performance-based rewards framework is implemented across the company. Under this framework, employees have shared goals and responsibilities. By ‘shared’, we mean the alignment of corporate objectives to division, department down to individual objectives and the allocation of corresponding weights to these objectives across levels. That the system is performance-based suggests that pay-outs are dependent on performance ratings; thus, the actual pay-out rating is determined by the budget, corporate scorecard rating and the individual’s performance rating. The program shall also determine the annual pay-out (i.e. incentives).
As an effective tool for promoting a performance-based culture, the performance management program will provide focus and alignment to corporate objectives, department objectives, and individual objectives. A critical portion of the system will be the cascade of objectives to all centers and employees across countries. Moreover, it will eliminate the mentality of entitlement, and promote stakeholdership. It will also encourages employee / team performance that directly contributes to the bottom line of Compulearn. Finally, it will help promote a rewards system as being strongly linked to performance management. It will also provide a basis for annual pay-outs and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Another retention factor is giving competitive compensation and benefits for Compulearn employees. This means that they receive more than the mandatory government mandated benefits.
Equity theory suggests that motivated behavior is a form of exchange in which individuals employ an internal balance sheet in determining what to do. It predicts that people will choose the alternative they perceive as fair. The components of equity theory are inputs, outcomes, comparisons, and results. Inputs are the attributes the individual brings to the situation and the activities required. Outcomes are what the individual receives from the situation. The comparisons are between the ratio of outcomes to inputs and some standard. Results are the behaviors and attitudes that flow from the comparison, but other standards of comparison, including oneself in a previous situation, seem equally probable (Adams, 1995). Based on equity theory, a well-designed performance management system ought to be an effective vehicle in motivating Compulearn employees because they perceive that they are compensated equitably.
Based on these long-term strategies, we are recommending the following short-term strategies / plans for Compulearn to be more competitive and to realize its goals of expansion:
1.) Review of the compensation and benefits package given to critical positions, to ensure both internal equity and external competitiveness.
2.) Design the competency framework of Compulearn from which behavioral questions may be crafted for future employee selection.
3.) Design a training and development portfolio for addressing both technical and soft skills of management and employees. Tracks for team member, supervisor, manager and executive of Compulearn must be drafted.
4.) Design a competency gap tracking tool to determine gaps and to set up a database for training needs. This may be linked to other high-end HR systems, including career planning and succession management.
5.) Undertake teambuilding for units or levels which are in clear conflict with one another.
6.) Launch and develop programs that are aimed at promoting camaraderie.
7.) Deploy programs that are aimed at maintaining better worklife balance for Compulearn employees.
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