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Development initiatives

Based on Human Resource Management, 4th edition, by Alan Price

Development programmes

Whether it takes place within a learning - or non-learning - organization, the fundamental principle of human resource development is that it goes further than piecemeal training. In this section we go on to examine the organizational and personal decision-making which lead to systematic, planned HRD programmes. (...)

Where does HRD fit into the human resource strategy of an organization? It should be part of a planned and systematic process in which:

  • Competences are identified by a performance management system.
  • These are matched with needs specified by the human resource strategy.
  • Gaps are addressed by the development programme.

Within an HRD programme, training is geared towards planned development rather than being an isolated activity unconnected to the organization's objectives. HRD programmes use a combination of organized patterns of experience as well as formal training. (...)


Development starts with the effective induction of new employees - the period of training which takes place immediately on recruitment. Notionally, induction programmes are intended to help newcomers adjust to the job, the people they will work with, and wider aspects of the organization's structure and culture. However, in reality comparatively few employees are provided with this treatment. Looking after newcomers tends to receive low priority in a busy environment (...)

Unfortunately, joiners are commonly 'thrown in at the deep end'. Finding themselves in a strange environment and told to get on with it, they are easily forgotten. Raw recruits are left feeling anxious and vulnerable, forced to make sense of new surroundings and learn correct procedures the hard way. Many managers regard this approach with favour: after all, this was how they learned to cope and get to grips with the business. It is regarded as a test of competence, of machismo, of the ability to survive in a demanding environment. This can be a valuable 'growth' experience, but there is a considerable risk of individuals becoming disillusioned, leaving or developing bad habits.

... there is a well-known 'induction crisis' in which a proportion of new recruits leave within the first few weeks. Effective recruitment and selection take time and cost money. Careless handling of new recruits can render this easily into waste.

Star performers

The market for talented staff, or gold-collar workers, is becoming international and the ability to recruit, develop and keep them provides a significant and sustainable competitive advantage. (...) Development programmes must provide these individuals with the following:

  • A sense of mission, providing a more satisfying cause than just pay and security.
  • An organizational structure which encourages rather than stifles creativity.
  • A performance management system which identifies and rewards talented individuals, giving them opportunities to develop their skills through challenging work.
  • A clear statement of the link between strategic objectives and the desire of talented people to excel.

(...) Mentor relationships have been found to be highly effective. (...) Mentors are established managers who can provide support, help and advice to more junior members of staff. A mentor should not be a direct line manager, but should have the same gender and ethnic background, so that advice is based on similar life experience. (...)

Empowerment and HRD

The concept of empowerment ... is particularly relevant in the context of human resource development. There is nothing new in the notion that decision- making should be delegated as low down the organization as possible, and that individuals should take responsibility for their own work, but empowerment has significant implications for the career structures and work behaviour of employees. (...)

... in return for empowerment, employees must accept that career opportunities have diminished. Much of the ladder has disappeared and vertical promotion is only available to the few star performers. HRD in this case is focused on building resilient people who are able to gain rewards from existing jobs. Their future lies in 'horizontal promotion', regular moves between different jobs on a similar level.(...)


Development is the responsibility of the individual as well as the organization. Career success requires self-control, self-knowledge, systematic career evaluation and frequent role change. (...)

Our lives also depend heavily on accident or chance, since the process of living is predominantly an unsystematic series of incidents. We choose to apply for specific jobs or particular universities because they meet our needs at a particular point in time. These decisions produce unanticipated side-effects. (...)

However, there are major components of life which are controlled by our own actions, leaving scope for intention and direction. The more we plan and take action, the greater the control we have over our lives. To a degree, we shape our own selves by imagining the kind of person we want to be: perhaps being more successful, being respected, or being seen as kind or helpful. When we take actions which contribute to the achievement of these goals we are involved in a process of self-creation. Few of us have a systematic life plan, but rather a loosely organized collection of sometimes minor aims. Most people have restricted opportunities, so that self-creation ia a matter of taking account of reality and adjusting to what is possible (the book provides a checklist). (...)

Learning in Organizations   >  Management Development


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