Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Growing Strategic Function Of Human Resources In Businesses & Organisations.

The role of Human Resources is transforming within organisations and businesses around world. Traditionally HR has been viewed as a support function concerned with recruitment and selection processes and learning and development.

However, HR is increasingly being seen as more of a strategic function that should consider employee engagement, organisational and cultural change and performance management. There are several areas in which the HR function is developing a more strategic approach and with additional important points to consider.

The growing trend is that organisations and businesses are considering HR as a Business Partner and not just a support function. This transition requires some thought, planning and development. HR professionals in this transition must understand the difference between this and other HR roles and how to build stakeholder relationships within the business or organisation.

The strategic HR function is gaining support from the greater organisation in its role within performance management. This support is necessary for the development and implementation of organisational competencies and competency frameworks. These both lead to greater efficiencies in individual and organisational performance and talent management, areas which have traditionally been associated with line management responsibilities.

Organisations must embrace change as it happens. Change is a people business, which inevitably requires the attention and involvement of the HR function. With the recent cultural changes resulting from these tough economic times, there will inevitably have been a direct impact on how overall change is accepted. It is, therefore, essential that the Strategic HR Function understands cultural value systems and how they directly influence the way change is accepted or not.

Watch this video featuring management author and expert Dave Ulrich who talks briefly about the transformation of Human Resources and it's growing participation setting business strategy.

Please also post your comments and experiences relating to this post.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What Makes An Effective Team Leader Or Manager?

Some managers inspire and motivate, but many fall short in their attempts to engage their employees. An "effective" manager takes responsibility for ensuring that each individual within his/her department succeeds and that the team or business unit achieves results. The good news is managerial skills can be developed through training, mentoring, and experience - it doesn't have to revolve around natural talent.

The top 5 most common traits in successful managers include communication, leadership, adaptability, relationships, development of others, and personal development.

As a new or established manager, what skills and behaviours should you be demonstrating in order to lead and manage successfully.

1. Communication - effective managers develop their ability to understand others' communication styles, as well as their own, and how they can be harnessed to create a positive impact on working relationships within a team and the wider organisation.

2. Leadership - Leadership is an essential quality for any manager but one that is sometimes overlooked during the process of promoting a new manager. As a new or established manager are you instilling trust, providing direction and delegating responsibilities effectively within your team? These are all characteristics, which can be developed.

3. Adaptability - The ability to adapt also contributes to a manager's effectiveness. When a manager is able to adjust quickly to unexpected circumstances, he is able to lead his team to adapt as well. Adaptability also means that a manager can think creatively and find new solutions to old problems.

4. Relationship building - Effective managers should strive to build personal relationships with individual team members, which helps build trust. When managers establish relationships with employees it builds trust and employees feel valued, which in turn leads to increased efficiency within the team.

5. Coaching others - Effective managers know when their employees need more development. Coaching skills drive performance within a team and help others achieve more of what they are striving for. Training is the first step to learning, coaching then accelerates that learning process to build skills and deliver real ROI.

If you are reading this blog post and you have experience of the positive effects of other qualities demonstrated by a successful leader or manager then please post your comments below.

In this training update from CAPITA Learning & Development we will look at these top areas that you, as a new or established manager, should be demonstrating in order to lead and manage successfully.


Each year CAPITA Learning & Development develops hundreds of top leaders and managers through our Leadership and Management faculty. For more details please contact us on 0800 022 3410 or email us with your query:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Future of Project Management

Have you considered the difference between someone who manages a small in-house project and someone who manages a large infrastructure project?

After all, they are both project managers and they both manage time, quality and money. In theory, they both meet all of the project management definitions.

However, their competencies surely differ?

If we look carefully at a "project manager", we are really identifying someone who has a broad range of skills. These skills are dynamic; as they shift and grow depending on the climate of the day. For instance, in Financial project management, risk assessment has a much higher priority today than it did say three years ago. As a subset of risk management, governance and corruption prevention is taking a higher standing with the introduction of the Bribery Act and UNCAC.

In short: project managers are facing a daunting number of skills to develop in today’s day and age.

The skills sets in Project Management broadly fit into three main areas:

  • General management
  • Project Specific Skills
  • IT Skills. This has taken on huge significance over the last couple of years with a vast range of software in a variety of areas.

Figure 1: General Management. These subjects are included in many organisations’ management development training programmes. 

 Figure 2: Project Specific categories   

Each of these will, of course have a complete subset and if we look at Procurement alone, this would include:

  • Legal framework
  • The procurement cycle
  • Specification
  • Planning
  • Sourcing
  • Bid preparation, analysis, evaluation
  • Award of contract
  • Contract Management
  • Audit
  • Negotiation
  • Etc
Figure 3: IT Project Management Diagram 
We can infer from the diagrams that a project manager cannot simply "possess" all of the required skills and that the difference between someone who manages a small in-house project and someone who manages a large infrastructure project is not simply a matter of scale.

Not many of us would be too comfortable in buckling a safety belt on a long-haul flight, when knowing that the pilot's previous experience of flying was that of controlling a model aircraft.

A project manager similarly requires careful professional development and to be able to measure individual performance against a series of parameters or a competency framework, is paramount. Most of these subjects do not exist in schools or colleges but are demanded by most employers. These will be identified on appraisal forms or during a training needs analysis and then a panacea training course will be provided. The diagrams also indicate that a project manager needs to possess a wide range of skills and competencies and these cannot be developed in a short space of time, but can be planned over a period for the right individual.

Many organisations who have developed competency frameworks include key soft management skills in their core competencies, but then include an all-encompassing “project management” competency.

As most managers, have to manage projects, is it time for organisations to reconsider their "fast-track schemes", management development schemes and leadership development programmes and replace them with project management development schemes. This would provide managers with more than just the soft skills required for leadership and management but also a complete range of functional skills at the required level, required for tackling appropriate projects.

By Stefan Urbanski, Director of Studies, Capita.