Human Resource Management

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Assume the position of a consultant hired to assess the approach towards human resource management taken by a client organization. What factors might you use to evaluate whether an organization uses a traditional or strategic approach to managing its human resources?

Quick answer:

In order to analyze whether an organization is using a traditional or strategic approach to human resources, it's important to look at whether they are dealing with immediate problems at hand or if they are looking to the future. In other words, they should examine whether the organization is being proactive or reactive.

Expert Answers

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In order to answer this question, you need to understand what the difference between traditional human resources and strategic human resources is. In a nutshell, traditional human resources is reactive, whereas strategic human resources is proactive.

In other words, a traditional human resources department will listen to the grievance of an employee and attempt to find a solution. Similarly, they will start looking for an appropriate candidate for a position when the position becomes available if someone is quitting or the company growing.

A strategic human resources department, on the other hand, has a tougher job, because they are required to anticipate problems before they come up. Similarly, they will have screened a number of possible candidates for all possible positions, so that when somebody quits or a new position becomes available, they already have a list of possible new staff members in mind.

In order to evaluate whether the human resources department of a particular company operates traditionally or strategically, one therefore has to evaluate the procedures they have in place and simply look at how they are doing things. I would consider issues such as whether the HR department has regular meetings with staff members or whether the only time a staff member goes to HR is to lay a grievance or face a disciplinary hearing. I would look at their hiring protocols, their disciplinary structures, and their day-to-day operations and ask myself at every step whether the department was working in a proactive or a reactive way.

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