People Management

People Management

As a prospective employee of an organisation, evaluate the usefulness of the knowledge of managing people and organisations in helping you to do your work better.

Information for many businesses means both increased profits and increased efficiency within the operations of a company. In this respect then it is reasonable to conclude that information and knowledge related to managing people and organisations would be one of the more critical aspects of this informational system. However while information and knowledge may be of good, and in itself, they are the processes through which we apply this knowledge which often has a vital bearing on the effectiveness of such knowledge. This problem then may be seen as a fundamental one in the continuing success of an organisation in terms of it goals and strategic objectives.

Understanding Organisations and People

All organisations exist within an environment which displays a multiplicity of cultural and social structures which in turn are related to different groups of people who may be owners, managers, or workers that comprise the membership of the organisation (Mullins, 2005). Some firms are, however it must be admitted, quite successful without a complex structure especially if these companies are of a scale which does not require such complexity in their operation. Yet some have many sub-activities whose functions are not integrated within these structures and thus fail to achieve success. In essence any organisation displays a flow or chain of value adding activities. Firms as such have discovered that many different structures have the capacity to be successful and that the best construction for any given company is ultimately a unique structure which reflects its particular circumstances. Therefore, it is vital for managers/workers to make sense of their company’s organisational context first of all rather than analyzing and managing the increasing uncertainty associated with realities of external competitive conditions.

According to Mullins (2005), that despite differences in cultural diversity there are three common elements in each organisation which can be identified. These are defined as people, objectives and structure. Expanding on this Mullins (2005) suggests that people achieve organisational objectives within an interactive structure which either positively supports the value-added process or conversely impedes the success of the process. People may be seen as the most important element in the value adding process, or they should be seen as ‘at the heart’ of the organisation’s strategic purposes and objectives. In order for this component to be successful then the dissemination and application of knowledge within the organisation is essential. However organisational identity is defined largely by the organisation’s culture, thus the awareness of the organisational context should be dependent on understanding the culture both within the organisation as well as that of the external environment which it operates in.

Culture is important because an organisation’s performance can improve through better understanding this and it can directly influence the activities and symbols which are related to both the everyday understanding of members and the features of the sector and society of which the organisation is a part (Parker, 2000). In addition, people are living in a dramatically changing world where technological change is having an enormous influence on organisations altering and shaping both organisational structure and context (Lassey, 1998). As a result members of an organisation, every individual who wishes for better performance and continued successes should be involved in a dynamic learning process in order for their knowledge to keep pace with developments in the outside environment such as technological development within or outside the organisation (Thomson, 2002). At the same time successful organisations are those which have been able to become learning organisations as well. There has therefore been an increasing realisation that an organisation’s future successes are dependent upon the innovative capabilities of its people as well as maintaining in a people a sense of esteem in their work which directly relates to continued high levels of productivity on the job.

Therefore knowledge of organisational goals which is aware of changing cultural conditions as well as other vital factors in this context is a key contributor to both effective performance and management. Additionally as Gratton (2000) suggests organisations which desire a high level of performance should build a model of trust and inspiration. This model should be influenced by people’s understanding of the organisational context as well as their involvement in the decision making process concerning themselves and the organisation. This is to say that based on a set of reflexive knowledge about themselves and their colleagues and also the context in which they work individuals are more aware of both positive and negative impacts of their organisational contribution and have a high degree of emotional investment in achieving success within the organisation . In brief there is a demand for workers and managers to understand the complexity of organisation managerial structures and processes as well as a comprehension of the essential concepts in managing people in the face of increasing change and uncertainty.

Key Concepts of Managing People

Human resource management is a critical part of an organisation’s support activities that contribute overall to the value creation process (Hollensen, 2004). In addition, the manner in which an organisation’s human resources are managed has a profound impact on the effectiveness of the organisation’s performance (Legge, 2005). At this stage of the value chain there exists an opportunity to add value to the organisation’s   strategic goals by understanding people’s activities and working processes within the organisation. For example operations and personnel managers who are most involved in the leadership and development of human resources should be sensitive about respective employee’s needs in the job. Additionally there should be a framework seeking ways in how the contribution of staff’s performance can be improved for example through better job design. Additionally, HRM emphasizes that employees are decisive in helping to achieve organisational strategic objectives (Cowling and Lundy, 1995). As a result human resource practices need to be incorporated into overall corporate strategy in a cohesive fashion in order to maximise efficiency (Bratton & Gold, 1999). HR strategy can also be defined as ‘the Pattern that emerges from a steam of important decisions about the management of human resources’ itself closely linked with business strategy (Dyer, 1984). It is can be strongly argued that once a business strategy is established without the successful incorporation of knowledge coming from HR experts about managing people it will be impossible to complete and perform this strategy in an effective manner. This definition also addresses the importance of seeing the environment as a factor in HR strategy, a factor which reflects the significance of understanding the organisation interactions discussed previously. According to Bamberger (2000), the environment, human resource strategy and business strategy are key determinants of the ability to achieve corporate strategic goals.

Job satisfaction and work performance

In understanding the importance of managing people and organisations it is vital to develop appropriate ways which enables them work more effectively. However there is a danger that in considering staff as a unit of resource rather than as human beings this will largely reduce the effectiveness of the organisation in the long-term. Therefore knowledge of people management is able to provide a deeper understanding of employees from a psychological perspective which in doing so allows the development of staff’s performance in an effective way. To make the best use of people as a valuable resource of organisation it is useful to look at the relationship between job satisfaction and work performance which can be seen as being related to the personal feelings of employees and their sense of personal achievement (Mullins, 2005). People who work in organisations, who have different kinds of abilities, skills and attitudes, all determine the final productivity and quality of the value adding processes in the organisation. Organisational behavioural theorists suggest that the behaviour and performance of these human resources is dependent on four variables: ability, motivation, role perception and situational contingencies (Bratton & Gold, 1999).

Firstly, ability can generally be seen as the basic understanding and skills necessary to complete the job, or alternatively the ‘know-how’. In a broader sense this knowledge should also include an understanding of the organisational environment and the employee network involved in each process. This knowledge then can be used in improving work performance providing the basis for offering any commitments that the organisation makes (Wikstrom & Normann, 1994). However, as human beings, every employee has their own weaknesses and strengths therefore knowledge of managing people and organisations is essential in providing a clear understanding of and based on these weaknesses and strengths. A successful knowledge based strategy would then seek to overcome these by improving organisational activities of which these elements are a part. A successful network enhancement is based on the realisation then that people often work with other members in the organisation in order to overcome their own respective weaknesses or external and internal obstacles to a successful working process (Brooks, 2003).

It is obvious then that this sort of knowledge is useful to help other people in your team overcome their weaknesses but also useful in evaluating one's own performance. At this stage it must be remembered innovation is central to maintaining a dynamically improving procedure which can in other words be defined as a learning process (O’Sullivan, 2000). As well as weaknesses in order to make the best use of people through exploiting their strengths they should be put in the right role and position in the organisation which suits these strengths (Hunt, 1992). For example some abilities are found more strongly in certain individuals, such as, for example, levels mathematical reasoning and better job performance in related fields based on these strengths. Thus some type of psychometric based assessment procedures which seek to reveal strengths and weaknesses of prospective and existing employees as a part of this knowledge process is fundamentally important (Dunnett and Fleischman, 1982).

Secondly, in broader terms, motivation can be considered to be comprised of an individual’s level of effort, persistence and the directions which their efforts are turned towards (Brooks, 2003). Therefore it is essential to keep staff motivated which is not easy task within any organisational context. Clearly organisations that are able to motivate their employees are more likely to achieve their objectives (Mullins, 2005). As equally important however is the fact that structures should exist wherein workers motivate themselves through an understanding of their own needs, communicating with other members of the organisation and learning from these related factors. It is important to mention here that both positive and negative reinforcements are able to affect the nature of future behaviour (Brooks, 2003). To be more specific negative feedback can reduce the incidence of a particular behaviour  such as the failure to achieve a desirable outcome but too much may take away levels of self-esteem so managers must balance between encouraging reinforcements and negatives ones in order to better shape and guide employee’s behavioural patterns. As such then there is a highly important relationship between rewards and satisfaction levels as a result of these rewards for individuals. This reflects the expectancy model which suggests that when the expectancy is high that if the desired outcome is not achieved the person may feel more annoyed, depressed and/or display reduced levels of motivation after this event (Mullins, 2005). As a result of this experience then it has been suggested that person may cheat in the future in order to perform better compared with other employees.

Thirdly individual differences are especially obvious when we focus on the perception process. What this means is that in order to interact effectively in an organisation, it is vital to have an awareness of what others are thinking and feeling as everyone has a unique way in which they see the world. Based on the psychological concept of sensory awareness, the process of perception can be described as an information processing system in that information is viewed at one end of the process then interpreted and translated into action (Mullins, 2005). This is to say that there are potential risks of misunderstanding within networks of employees and which may reduce the effectiveness of working performance due to the way in which information is perceived and used as a basis for judgment. In this instance knowledge of people and organisation is especially important in a team-based work organisation in a way in which it is applied in order to mediate between the varied perceptions found across a network of employees both horizontally and vertically. On the one hand therefore workers with skills perform their respective tasks individually yet the team in which they work typically controls task allocation between members (Armstrong, 2003). As a result in this shared organisational process the process of perception can result in groups of people selecting the same information from the environment which enhances cooperation in work performance or in contrast has the effect of reducing the effectiveness of such operations as conflicts arise as a result of the perception process (Armstrong, 1996). Obviously then there are some important benefits flowing from teamwork, such as improved satisfaction by allowing individuals to work effectively and productively through increased motivation and flexibility but that this can be seen as dependent on the effective application of knowledge (Hansen, Nohria and Tierney, 2001).


In conclusion we can argue that the human resource aspect of any organisation can be seen as the greatest asset for an organisation. However neither the knowledge of this resource or knowledge about this resource should be seen as static, instead for organisational strategies to be effective they must be dynamic and adapt to be external changes in the environment as well as internal information concerning this human resource. As an example of some of the benefits of having this process in place effectively operating within an organisation it will it can be argued easier for an organisation to apply technological changes in the workplace (Cooper, 1974). This should result both from the effective communication of best practices related to the application of new technologies and in turn this would foster an environment where employees are more willing to share information about positive and negative practices which would lead to more effective resolutions of organisational goals and objectives (Capon, 2004).

Improvements in job design such as the avoiding of repetitive tasks can then be effectively integrated. While it is good for an organisation to seek such changes it should do so within a framework built on a sound human resource strategy. This strategy as discussed should be aware of all the factors, internal to the company, internal to the employees of a company as well as external factors (Jackson and Carter, 2000). This awareness will not only enhance the structure of knowledge but also crucially enhance the overall effectiveness of such knowledge when it is applied within the policies and organisational goals related to their value adding processes and successful outcomes in terms of an organisations’ strategic corporate goals. Thus knowledge is only as useful or effective as the company procedures which are in place which makes effective use of this knowledge.


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