The Continuum for Human Resource Development

Organizations have a human resources department or someone who is responsible for the human resources function. Too often, this area of the organization is not given the important focus it should have. After all, having a skilled and productive group of humans is very important if the organization is to succeed.

Sometimes, when a position becomes vacant, the recruitment effort will be expedited in order to fill the position. Unfortunately, there are managers who would rather have a “warm body” in the position rather than nobody at all!

Human resource development in an organization needs to be thought of in terms of a continuum. The stages of the continuum include:

– Recruitment and Hiring

– Orientation and Initial Development

– Performance Management including Coaching and Counseling

– Promotion and Advancement

– Termination and the Exit Interview

Let us look at each of these stages in more detail:

Recruitment and Hiring

The basis of any recruitment effort ought to be a performance based job description. In as much detail as possible, what are the critical skills and experience needed to do the job? With a performance based job description in hand, the questions asked in the interview become job related.

If I am hiring someone to mow the lawn, I may ask “when you mow the lawn do you mow it horizontally and vertically, or diagonally?” If the job description says to mow it diagonally, I want to know this person’s experience with mowing lawn diagonally, if any. This is a far more important question to ask in the interview than “what would you like to be doing five years from now?”

By using a performance based interview, you can create a rating system that relates to the amount of experience the candidate has in relation to each of the performance questions asked. You also avoid asking questions that may be illegal (depending on your country) as: “What are your religious beliefs?”

Orientation and Initial Development

Once hired, the organization will want to get the person up to speed in doing the job as quickly as possible. There may be a formal orientation regarding policies and procedures, etc., and then actual introduction to the job where the manager or a skilled member may help the individual hired learn the job and performance standards to be met. As skilled as the person hired may be, it will take some time to get up to speed on the job. The amount of time will be related to the details and complexity of the job.

There should be no surprises. All facets of the job should be presented together with the specific and measurable performance standards. “Mowing an average of 500 square feet of lawn, per hour,” is much more specific than just “Mow the lawn.”

Performance Management including Coaching and Consulting

The supervisor or manager is responsible to coach and counsel the working member reporting to him or her. What parts of the job are being completed satisfactorily? What areas need improvement? How does the working member get along with those he or she is working with? What problems or difficulties are they facing in their work?

Working members will be more productive when they realize leadership is giving them the support they need. This includes job skill development, personal understanding and support and providing the necessary supplies and equipment needed to do the job.

Promotion and Advancement

Sometimes, organizations will promote from within. Other times they may favor recruiting from the outside, as a “fresh outlook” is needed in a job area. Nevertheless, the human resources effort ought to include working with members in exploring what other talents they can develop and what other skills they have that could be used in other positions in the organization.

“Succession Planning” is a human resources effort that can pay big dividends. When the organization has members who are prepared to step up when vacancies occur, or when expansion is indicated, it is ready to keep operations flowing productively.

Providing access to training and education benefits is another positive part of the developmental continuum, when the organization provides them. The working members will realize the organization has their interests at heart by providing opportunities for advancement and development.

Termination and the Exit Interview

The practice of always conducting an exit interview when someone leaves a job is very important. The exit interview should be conducted whether someone is being promoted to another job within the organization or leaving the organization. Properly done, the exit interview provides information on what can be done to improve the job and what can be improved to provide the support to do the job effectively.

When you apply each of the stages of the continuum for human resource development, you have a mechanism in place that not only helps the organization recruit and hire effectively, but also supports the working members once they become part of the organization. Having a continuum for human resource development sends a message that the organization cares about its members. By doing so, the organization reaps the benefits of a well developed and productive workforce.

Incentive Schemes In Human Resources

Incentive schemes are sometimes constructed in which rewards to the individual depend on achieving certain hurdle levels of performance. That is, compensation depends discontinuous on the achievement of some numerical goal. For example, a salesman bonus may depend on whether he surpasses some level of sales, and/or his average commission percentage may jump discontinuous as certain sales figures are exceeded. When effort is spread over time, such schemes can fail to achieve the desired ends. For example, a worker whose performance near the end of the evaluation period is far from the next hurdle will have little incentive to work hard. In contrast, employees who are close to a hurdle will have strong reasons to want to kill themselves (or others!) trying to make it, even at the cost of hurting performance in the future or undertaking dysfunctional actions, such as bilking a valued customer in order to make a quick sale. The salesperson far from the next hurdle may “bank” sales for the next period, while the salesperson close to the next hurdle may try to accelerate sales.

This can be particularly true of comparative schemes, where a prize is given, say, to the best cumulative performer over some period out of a set of employees. In such cases, if one employee builds up a substantial lead over the others, then all may decrease their efforts; those who are behind slow down because there is little chance that they can catch up, and the leader slacks off because those behind have slowed down. In general, the worker’s ability to shift the level and nature of effort as time passes makes schemes that evaluate performance over a period of time somewhat tricky.

Linear incentive schemes, such as giving a salesman a fixed commission based on sales, are remarkably prevalent in the real world. Doubtless this reflects, in part, the simplicity of such schemes and their ability to motivate employees robustly (i.e., they work for all sorts of employees, in all sorts of situations). But, in addition, a strong theoretical case has been made for linear incentive schemes, based on the sort of dynamic considerations mentioned here. Roughly, when the outcomes of employee efforts are time separable (the value added in each week depends only on efforts expended in that week), to keep the pressure of incentives steady over a longer accounting period, the firm will want to keep a steady rate of reward for marginal contributions, translating into linear incentive schemes.

There are a number of reasons why firms wish to decrease voluntary turnover. Hence, an important aspect of motivation can be encouraging the employee to remain. A method for increasing retention of more senior workers is to have compensation rise with seniority; if an employee is promised a valuable reward – such as disproportionately high wages, access to stock options, or a pension – if he remains for ten or twenty years with his current employer, he will be decreasing inclined to quit the closer he gets to that reward.

The economic theory of incentives is built up from the standard economic model of human behavior. Roughly but fairly accurately put, employees within economic models are greedy, slothful, and concerned entirely with ends and not means:

– Employees will evaluate compensation systems and their own compensation in terms of the fairness of the outcomes and the process by which their performance was evaluated and rewarded; distributive and procedural justice will be considered.

– They will engage in social comparisons; it won’t necessarily matter how well each did on an absolute scale, but rather how each did relative to his peers. (We recall an eminent labor economist who, while doing his stint as chair of his economics department-one of the best in the world-remarked in somewhat mystified fashion that his best-paid colleagues seemed particularly concerned not with how their annual raises compared with inflation, but instead how they stacked up with the raises earned by their other highly paid colleagues.)

– Compensation should be consistent with and even reinforce social status.

– Enterprises, compensation that doesn’t correlate strongly with position in the organizational hierarchy can be problematic.

– Compensation should be consistent with the organization’s culture. For instance, incentive compensation leading to enormous cross-sectional or temporal variation in wages might be entirely acceptable in organizations with a “market-like” culture, as long as those who get more are viewed as having earned what they get. The same compensation systems may be woefully inappropriate, however, for an enterprise that otherwise promotes a familial culture.

– In addition to external motivators-compensation, promotion, power and perks, retention, the esteem of peers, and positive social relations with peers-intrinsic motivation can play a powerful role. And extrinsic incentives can dull intrinsic motivation, when employees attribute their efforts to the pursuit of extrinsic rewards instead of inner satisfaction.

The force of these social processes can be ambiguous. Perhaps most importantly, the force of distributive justice is not always clear. Compensation is distributive just, by and large, if it conforms to the norm of equity-individuals should be paid according to how much they contribute. But what is “contribution?” Is it effort exerted or profits generated? Perceptions on this vary according to circumstances and, in given circumstances, can vary among observers.

To illustrate how non-economic forces can complicate “economically simple” questions about pay for performance, and because it is important in its own right, we turn next to a simple question: If you are going to reward employees based on performance, should the rewards take the form of a bonus (paid immediately) or a raise in base pay?

If the definition of pay for performance is stretched to include systems in which employees’ raises reflect past performance, then pay for performance is much more prevalent than one might initially think. The idea that one gets raises for a job well done is fairly common because of its ties to promotion: Workers are promoted for having done well, and promotions to new jobs usually entail higher wages.

The Relationship Between Human Resource Practices And Business Strategy In A Business Organization

The relationship between human resource practices and a company’s business strategy are aligned in many ways. The ultimate goal of the alignment is to use human capital as instrument to maximize the organization assets for the benefit of the stakeholders. Below are some of the relationship between human resource practices and business strategy.


Human resource practices create the process for the development of employees’ knowledge and the skill-set across the organization to promote its core competencies that support and maintain its competitive advantage in the industry. The term “strategic HRM” is the new template in the management of modern organization that is anchored on the concept that the most valuable asset an organization provides itself is HR, since it is the tool that is responsible for the coordination and implementation of other factors of production that spurs corporate performance journals

The business strategy adopts by an organization is meant to showcase how it intend to succeed by using the factors of production at its disposal to build a competitive advantage, strategy-business. Business strategy helps to identify the direction that the organization wishes to go in relation to its environment. Human resource strategies manage human resource so that the goals set by the organization can be achieved. The focus is directed on what the business intentions are as they relate to human resource policies and practices. Therefore, how human resource is spread across the organization’s units and departments, motivated, managed and retained will affect the performance outcome after the business strategy has been implemented. The relationship between business strategy and human resource practices also would determine the organization competitive and performance outcome.

A glimpse into Oya Erdil & Ayse Gunsel’s ‘BUSINESS STRATEGY AND HUMAN RESOURCE STRATEGY- THE INTERACTION’ shows there is a relationship between human resource management practices and an organization business strategy, which also could be referred to as the business environment and organizational development. Another defining aspect of that relationship is the across the board acceptance that an organization’s human resource management practices have a link to the firm’s decision making process, in other words, the HR practices be closely aligned with the strategy of the whole business. While there is not much disagreement as pertaining to the relationship between HR practices and business strategy, there is a tendency not to acknowledge the deeper nature of the relationship. The theory of human resource management opined that should employees be considered and managed as a valued strategic asset, the organization in practice would be able to achieve a competitive advantage, and the outcome will be a superior performance. This again, means managing human resource in such a way that it will correspond to the business strategy, being that the goals and process of each of the strategy profiles are different.

According to Oya Erdil & Ayse Gunsel, this relationship is further entrenched when you look at how human resource practices are selected based on competitive strategy espoused by the organization. An organization that coordinates its business strategy and human resources policies and practices achieve a superior performance outcome than those that do not.


As explained by Rob Gray’s ‘Aligning performance management with business strategy,’ some employers could be missing the key factor that links performance management to strategy and culture. For it is an organization’s prevailing culture and practices that will determine the optimum use of its valuable asset (human beings) when its business strategy is aligned with its human resource practices. The right tools are needed if employers are to succeed in aligning their human resource management to its business strategy. The era of using performance review and appraisal as the only tools for performance, management solutions have since been replicated by a complete suite of competency measurement tools. These tools are able to assist employees to understand the means and learning resources through which they can effectively develop their skills and talent. Technology is one of the enablers but needs commitment from top down that is important for a high performance culture.


Edward E. Lawler lll’s, ‘What should HR Leaders Focus On In 2014’ gives a deep insight into how business entities could achieve a superior outcome for their shareholders. While technology is a valued enabler that spurs performance leading to superior outcome for an organization, another thing that should be a thing of focus for HR is the aspect of talent management that assesses the necessary skills every organization needs to implement its business strategy, the plan for recruitment and the management of critical talent. Even though, talent has long been determined to be important, it is of recent becoming more so given that many businesses are performing knowledge based work that is more complex, and with operations in the global markets. This has led to the situation of performance talent having a great impact on the organization’s bottom line. Google, Amazon, Apple, and other techs and service organizations have done a tremendous job of recruiting and managing people around the world that have the needed critical knowledge based skills. Their talented workforce have been able to perform well, differentiate their companies from competitors across industries which have translated to a pattern of communication that relays their type of employees and the jobs they offer.


Innovation is another standard of performance management,, that when effectively coordinated with an organization business objectives lead to a superior performance outcome. When an organization devote a substantial amount of time to innovation and business strategy, and both are valued equally, promoted across the board, and well communicated, a culture would exist naturally which will foster a relationship of the two. The fostered culture creates a top down business objectives that are communicated across the board in the organization, that enable all units to focus in addressing the organization’s short and long-term goals. From then, it becomes the innovators’ task to forge an alignment of their activities in support of the organization’s goals. The various ways to naturally coordinate both camps is the joint development of technology/product, and business road maps that encourage discussion and debate, forging links that guides actions. Successful performance outcome are highlighted through internal business and fairs, using the avenue to raise visibility for long term opportunities.


Diversity in an organization plays a significant role in forging a link between performance management and business strategy. There is a business case for diversity in the organization based on the evidence and arguments that both believe that when diversity is leveraged in an organization, it can contribute to the achievement of the company’s goals and priorities. To understand the relevance of diversity to the attainment of business objectives, the type of diversity under consideration has to be relevant to business performance and innovation