By Umer Raza Bhutta
While working in the corporate sector I saw management and staff entangled into a war of winning and losing. From winning and losing I mean winning and losing in the real sense of the word. In this winning and losing game staff remained most of the time at a distance with what the management wanted to do. At the same time management also did not make any real attempt to let the staff know what they wanted to do. This was and in most of the cases still true today in the companies. HR people and the consulting gurus call this a communication gape within the organizations.
In the early nineties, the organizations started realizing the importance of the Human Resources. This was the time that marked the start of the institutionalizing of the Human Resources, which was a step further from the earlier approach of the Personnel Management. Many call it a big change from the personnel management to Human Resource Management, but was it a big change? Many organizations call it a big achievement. Changing the name from Personnel Department to the Human Resource Department? Many readers and many well wishers of Change may agree with this that changing the name is just the start of the whole story. The real act starts after words. And that real act, in many cases, unfortunately fails to start at all. However, many in our organizations have felt that this was the end result they wanted to achieve and now they will be at par with the modern world. Many also thought (and actually do get away with this) that by renaming this function they will get further investments in their company and will be complying with the international standards that most of the organizations require for their businesses. I have seen it happening in many cases especially in the case of organizations in Manufacturing and those that are labor intensive.
I have been very fortune (this is my own thought and feeling) that I replaced, in three of my full time job assignments, ex army men. They were serving as the Human Resources Manager and I later replaced them. Since they were ex-army men (none was less than the rank of colonel), they were actually much mature and aged. They had the exposure of army man-management and handling, based on which they managed the human resource of the company. They used the same administrative skills in their role which started from Personnel Management that ended in Human Resource Management. It was primarily at such organizations where the name change was perceived to make a big and perhaps the only difference. There was no difference at all in both the styles as the end was similar and that was MANAGEMENT. The people were managed. The very sense of the word Management explains the thought process behind the whole idea. It is HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, it will remain as Management. Management is the word meaning “The process of dealing with or controlling things or people”.
Once we observe the designations of the departments we find that these departments are headed by either Directors or Managers. That is justified, as they are meant to be directing and/or managing. However, in Human Resources we have accepted the same theme and arrangement for this function. Management is only one aspect of the whole idea. Management keeps the overall objective of the department and the team that is managing this function under the same fold of Management and physiologically does not go beyond this. Whereas the concept of influencer and coach goes beyond the concept of managing, It brings in itself the theme of becoming a partner and to me this is most certainly a partner in growth.
When I joined these companies where I replaced ex army men I considered myself fortunate because I had a lot of margin to perform in this scenario, a lot of gray area for me to play in. This margin was provided to me by the management skills of the ex army men, where they did not use their Human engagement skills. Although if army men are reading, this article can be labeled as totally deformed, but my observation as far from reality. By this I do not mean to single out the ex army men’s role as HR people, there are many brilliant ex army men working in these roles. But the reality is that those who are working well do not want themselves to be called Rt. Major, Rt. Col. Or Rt. Brig. They prefer using their civilian name instead. The army men claim that they are the best in terms of the Human Skills. I also concede to this claim, however, to the extent where the human skills they used remained till the Humans that have worked in confined and absolute submission of the army boundaries. However, in the civilian organizations Human Resource is much more free, vibrant and wants to break free from the any boundaries. Such freedom to them can only be delivered once they are not managed, but they are inspired, coached, engaged and trusted.
The trust is the base line for any kind of the level of understanding between the management and the staff. If the management keeps on hiding the things from the staff there is no way that this trust is made. The organization can generate a lot of such activities and initiatives where this trust is created and the war between the management and employees is minimized if not eradicated.
The trust is developed once both the parties know that they have something to gain from the other party. When both become a growth partners to each other, when both become at a level where a mutual inspiration and sharing is done. In our role as head of Human Resources in our companies this is our duty to make this trust worthy of being trusted. Employees come to work and earn a decent living fo themselves and their families. There are hardly any cases of betrayal and fraud. Those who use fraud as a means to earn are limited in number and also when they try to play with the system, the system eventually clears them. Our staff needs engagement and this trust is developed when the staff is engaged in positive activities and business of the company. Once we reach at a positive level of trust amongst the staff and management we cover the first and the most important step of reaching at the organizational mission and vision.