People Enabling and People Empowerment
Until now, we have discussed the role of an HR manager in various processes related to the HR function. The emphasis was on a general overview and a description of the various activities instead of specific details.
This article discusses a couple of the crucial functions that an HR manager has to perform and those are related to enabling employees to perform to their potential and empowering the employees to lead fulfilling careers. In the earlier decades, organizational theory and practice limited itself to ensuring that employees are well paid and their benefits and other perks taken care of. There was little by way of ensuring personal fulfillment and job satisfaction. This was because of the predominance of manufacturing in the economies of the 1970s and the 1980s which meant that the workforce was to be treated as cogs in the machine instead of assets that the modern day HRM theory and practice follows.
With the advent of the services sector, a branch of HRM known as SHRM or Strategic Human Resource Management grew in response to the changing profiles of employees and this approach when combined with the systems approach of management thought meant that the enabling of employees and the empowerment of employees were the buzzwords for HR managers.
Specific Aspects of the Twin Objectives
Concomitant with this trend, the HR managers in most firms these days focus on these aspects by constantly seeking feedback, suggesting improvements, and providing people support to the employees. in multinational companies, it is usually the case that the employees above the team leader level have one-on-ones with the HR staff where all the issues concerning them are discussed threadbare. These meetings also provide the employees with an opportunity to articulate concerns and point to any grievances that they might have with regards to their jobs, work, or the organization in general.
The team members are usually assigned a people manager who performs these tasks and ensures that the employees are performing to their potential. Moreover, the HR function in conjunction with the line managers conduct periodic trainings in soft skills like communication, personal relations, and leadership. Indeed, many organizations like Fidelity have established a set protocol for employees to attend leadership development trainings that bring out the leaders in them and groom them as future managers and future CEO’s. Hence, the twin objectives of people empowerment and people enabling are thus met in this paradigm.
How this works in the Real World
Of course, this does not mean that the whole situation resembles utopia where employees and the managers along with the HR staff are one big happy family. On the contrary, in most real world settings, the HR managers have a tough time convincing the employees that the organization means well for them and that they ought to look on the bright side of things instead of complaining and being bitter about issues and grievances all the time. This is where the HR managers skills and personality come into the picture as the ability to persuade, enlighten, and if necessary wield the stick play a crucial role in people management. In other words, the HR manager has to tread a fine line between giving in to the employees and following the organizational mandate. This means that a variety of strategies are usually employed by the HR managers that include some of the skills listed above in addition to the personal equations that the HR manager has with the employees.
Finally, people enabling is all about gaining insights into the personalities of the employees and matching them with the organizational requirements. As mentioned earlier, by way of understanding the employees and their motivations and how well these stack up against organizational goals, the HR managers would be able to perform the critical function of people enabling that is very much required in contemporary management practice.