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Need for professionalism in HR

13/1/2002


Introduction
Human Resources is considered the heart of any organization since it manages the most dynamic element of production – Man. In the UAE too, it is no different. A lot is expected from the Human Resources Department of any organisation who has an onerous task of recruiting the best manpower. But the question is: Are they up to the task? Are they professional enough?

Background
The Human Resources department should depict certain values – understanding the employee problems, suggesting and if required, implementing solutions and above all maintaining confidentiality of the same. These are important since employees lose motivation at the smallest of instances where they feel they have not been dealt with fairly.

Need for specialised HR
Depending on the size of the company, an HR division may consist of one person or several personnel. But definitely there is a need for a specialized and well-qualified HR person – who understands the dynamics of recruitment and selection, HR planning, training and development, strategic appraisal system and organizational behavior. This helps since the professionally qualified HR person is well versed in setting Employee Handbooks and implementing the same.

The qualifications of an HR Manager should be at the minimum, a Bachelor in Human Resources or Organizational Psychology with at least 5 years of active experience in the same, preferably the same industry – since certain practices differ from industry to industry. The manager should also have certain post bachelor or master certifications in HR or Training or Performance Management.

Current State of Affairs
Most of the MNCs and large local groups were until 2 years ago operating the HR functions under the umbrella of the Personnel department (a term used synonymously with HR – only in the UAE). The personnel manager who should have been technically only looking after visas, medical, leave, factory fairness etc was now also looking into identifying training needs, responding to change management, building employee motivation, planning HR etc.

This was not his job but now considered Job Enlargement – one of the motivational tools as suggested in the HR textbooks, which usually leads to fall in productivity and morale and recruitment and selection of the wrong staff since the personnel manager is not supposed to be doing this job function.

But how could he explain this, especially since the employers are not willing to hear a NO for an answer. The poor personnel manager slogs his way through to make an impression and the employees suffer.

Another humorous instance is when the HR responsibilities are provided to the Accounts and Finance Managers. These guys know nothing about HR and are now in-charge of the same. It is amazing to see how these companies run and I am talking about large local houses.

Behavior of the HR Managers in UAE
The expected behavior is to understand the employee problems, suggest and if required, implement solutions and above all maintain confidentiality of the same. This is only possible if the employees go with their problems to the HR division in the first place. This rarely happens since the HR division is manned by the ‘wrong-crowd'. The true essence of having such a division, therefore, is defeated. The behavior is very unpredictable and totally unprofessional and leads to lowering of morale of the existing workforce on one hand and unprofessional dealing with outside vendors and extension agents.

Fate of these companies
In my opinion, the companies who turn a blind eye to the above above are usually in general trading where they make a huge number offinancial transactions each working day to be concerned about what's happening inside. This attitude may be fine for a short while, but once they realize that the companies outside are not dealing with their company but with the sales person who represents their company, they make take a different approach.

For example, if a company Y purchases tons of stationery from Company X, technically speaking they are dealing with X – but really speaking they are dealing with the Sales Person of Company X. The moment the sales person from X leaves X and joins Z, all of Y's business would be channeled to Z. This is true and all of us will agree with the same to a great extent. The argument is that X is a sole trader of so and so brand- but to be honest, UAE is a money market more than a quality market – so shifting of brands may not be difficult for the sales person to achieve. The sales person would expect that he is dealt with professionally, ie, performance appraisals are conducted on time and he is given his rewards on time. What if this does not happen … he will quit, hence taking all ‘your' customers and the revenue away from your company. Now isn't that expensive to the company in the long run?

Possible Solutions
1. Get qualified people to man the department. There is no dearth of personnel who are more than willing to work with your company. Again many companies go for recruiting their relatives etc. This practice needs to stop and business needs to be treated as a business.
2. Get your team trained. Spending on training should be seen as an investment. Get your core team trained by professionals. This would increase their motivation, morale and a feeling that the company requires their services for long.
3. Conduct Employee Feedback surveys
4. Regular Performance Appraisals: Regular may mean quarterly to annually depending on the nature of the company.
5. Fire your existing team: This may sound a bit dramatic – but yes you can fire your existing unprofessional team and either recruit a new team altogether or appoint external agencies to act as an extension to your current Human Resources. This is usually expensive in the short run.

Conclusion
Please don't run after saving pennies when your company is losing pounds by recruiting unprofessional people to head the HR team. Get good people – it will definitely provide cost savings in the long run in many ways.

Courtesy: Sanjay Batheja, Career Counsellor


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