Human Resource Development

Human Resource Development

Human resource in an organization is needed to be developed to suit the change taking place in its external environment. Human resource development (HRD) helps to adapt such changes through the development of existing human resource in terms of skills, knowledge and the capacity to perform. It represents the capability enhancement of human resource within an organization through the development of both the employees and the organization. The capacity of the employees depends on their access to education. HRD is the integrated use of training, organization, and career development efforts to improve individual, group, and organizational effectiveness. HRD develops the key competencies which enable the employees of an organization to perform their present and future requirement of the assignments and / or jobs through planned learning activities. HRD is used to initiate and manage change.  It also ensures a match between the needs of the employees and the organization.

HRD differs from training and development (T&D). T&D process refers to a systematic set-up where employees are instructed and taught matters of technical knowledge related to their jobs. These processes focus on teaching employees how to safely use particular equipment or how to do specific tasks to increase efficiency. Whereas, HRD refers to the overall holistic and educational growth and maturity of the employees in the managerial positions. HRD process is in relation to insights, attitudes, and adaptability, leadership, and human relations.

Development of human resources is necessary for an organization which desires to be dynamic and growth-oriented. Different from other resources, human resources have rather unlimited potential and capabilities. The potential can be used only by creating an environment which can continuously identify, bring to surface, nurture, and use the capabilities of the employees. HRD efforts in the organization aim to create such an environment. The complexity of HRD as an organizational activity is because of its relatively short history as a distinctive field of practice in the management of an organization.

HRD is a series of activities which support behavioural change and learning opportunities for the employees. HRD activities aim to develop employee skills and resilience to the present and future demands of the organization. The overall objective of HRD activities is to achieve higher performance levels.

HRD is a process for developing and unleashing human expertise through organization development and personnel training and development for the purpose of improving performance. It is concerned with an organized series of learning activities, within a specified time limit, designed to produce behavioural change in the learner. The term ‘HRD’ was first applied in 1968 in George Washington University. It was used in Miami at the conference of American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) by Leonard Nadler in 1969 and he subsequently provided a definition in 1970. The term has gained more acceptances during the mid-1970, but several people have used it as an alternative term for ‘training and development. Some management professionals believe that Japan was the first country to begin with HRD practices. The belief in Japan is that ‘better people’, not merely is the ‘better technology’, is the surest way to have a ‘better society’.

With the rise of learning society and lifelong learning during the second half of 1990s, management sponsored training and other developmental interventions began to occupy a central position in the running of the everyday working life of the organization. During this time, the traditional understanding of training and development activities as nothing more than formal training courses was gradually extended by new ways of thinking, even to support other ways of embedding learning opportunities present in doing one’s job. These new trends highlighted activities which were seen to contribute to the transformation of the workplace into a learning place. Such trends included the connection of HRD activities to business strategies, learner centered, and self-directed approaches, team learning, internal consultancy, knowledge management and the learning organization. As the scope of developmental activities broadened, this activity taking place in organizations has been more and more frequently described as HRD.

As the organizational management seeks to facilitate and guide learning and development, it draws upon several concepts and ideas. Psychology, economics, systems thinking, and ethics all provide ways of thinking about individual, team, and organizational learning. It is widely agreed that effective performance of employees in their work roles needs the development and combination of three elements namely cognitive capacities, capabilities, and desired behaviours. Cognitive capacities are the foundations of intelligence, conceptualized as the processing and possession of information in the brain and higher-order neurological abilities. Capabilities are the practical abilities involved in work roles, either inherent in the person or developed through practice. Desired behaviours came from motivation to ‘social skills’, enabling social interaction, mediated by the affective and can be conceptualized variously as attitudes, values, or ‘emotional intelligence’ (EI).

HRD is a function in an organization which provides opportunities for the employees to improve their present and future job performance, while simultaneously best utilizing human capital in order to improve the efficiency of the organization itself. Ideally, well developed and well implemented HRD systems are integral to the organization’s strategic plan and benefit both the employees and the organization.

The importance of HRD is obvious in an organization when one considers that in any activity of the organization, it is the human element which commands, directs, organizes, controls, and maximizes the factors which influences the performance. The quality of people appropriate to a particular level and complexities of the activity determines how well or how poorly the tasks are accomplished.

HRD mainly consists of three areas of activity which are training, education, and development. One common theme which can be found in these three areas of activity is that they contain the word ‘learning’. Training includes learning focused on the present job of the learner, education is learning focused on a future job for the learner, and development is learning without a focus on the job. Organized learning is the core of HRD. Uniqueness of HRD compared to other human resource activities in an organization is in its adoption of learning to reach individual and organizational objectives.

Nadler places the notion of organized learning experiences at the core of HRD by saying that the uniqueness of HRD compared to other human resource activities in an organization is in its adoption of learning to reach individual and organizational objectives. Nadler gathered these terms together and stated that training is the learning which is related to the present job, education is the learning to prepare a person but not related to a specific present or future job, and development is the learning for growth of the person but not related to a specific present or future job.

Another, less management-oriented thread in defining HRD has been to start by investigating what is meant by development. For example, several definitions of HRD have been sought in relation to different perspectives on human and employee development rooted in different philosophical and political traditions or in relation to different approaches to development. It is suggested that for the professional practice of HRD there is (i) a person-centred view which aims at self-realization and is grounded in humanistic psychology, and liberalism, (ii) a production-centred view which focusses on the organizational goals and which is grounded in behaviourism and liberalism, or (ii) a principled problem-solving view which is based on cognitive psychology, progressivism, and pragmatism. An informed professional practice of HRD needs an understanding of the premises of each approach.

Further, there are several ways in which the word development in HRD has been used for the purpose of the HRD practices. The word development has been used (i) in the sense of maturation, which is a pre-determined and inevitable stage-by-stage progression in people and (ii) in the organization’s shaping which is the externally defined shaping of people to meet the needs of the organization, (iii) in a voyage where people can construct their own development, and (iv) emergence meaning that development arises out of and is constructed by social systems and communication. Instead of seeing these identifications as exclusive, it is frequently pointed out that each developmental process contains these elements but in each case one element can act as the focal point and hence, moulds the HRD practice in the organization.

Analysis of recent times definitions of HRD suggest two distinct schools of HRD. The US school predominantly defines HRD in terms of learning. It places emphasis on the developmental aspect of the term HRD. In contrast, the European school appears to be more focused on linking HRD to strategy. In this regard, the European school focuses on the resource potential of the employees inherent in the term HRD. Definitions of HRD in recent times in these two schools are given in Tab 1.

Tab 1 Recent time definitions of HRD in two schools of HRD
European school of HRDUS school of HRD
HRD is the strategic management of training, development and management/professional education intervention, so as to achieve the objectives of the organization while at the same time ensuring that the full utilization of the knowledge in detail and skills of the individual employees. (Garavan 1991)HRD is a series of organized activities conducted within a specific time and designed to produce behavioural change. (Nadler1970)
HRD can be described as training members of an organization in such a way that they have the knowledge and skills needed within the context of the (changing) objectives of the organization. (Bergenhenegouwen 1992)HRD focuses on the central goal of developing human potential in every aspect of lifelong learning. (Craig 1976)
HRD is the process whereby people develop their full potential in life and work. (ITD 1992)HRD is a systematic expansion of people’s work-related abilities, focused on the attainment of both organization and personal goals. (Jones 1981)
HRD is an integrated and holistic approach to changing work related behaviour using a range of learning techniques and strategies. (Megginson 1993)The discipline of HRD is the study of how individuals and groups in organizations change through learning. (Chalofsky and Lincoln 1983)
HRD is a holistic societal process of learning drawing upon a range of disciplines. (Stead and Lee 1996)HRD consists of programs and activities, direct and indirect, instructional and/or individual that possibly affects the development of the individual and the productivity and profit of the organization. (Smith 1988)
HRD encompasses activities and processes, which are intended to have impact on organizational learning. It assumes that organizations can be constructively conceived of as learning entities and that the learning processes of both organizations and individuals are capable of influence and direction through deliberate and planned interventions. (Stewart and McGoldrick 1996)HRD is the integrated use of training and development, career development and organizational development to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. (Mclagan 1989)
HRD is concerned with the provision of learning, development and training opportunities in order to improve individual, team and organizational performance. It is essentially a business led approach to developing people within a strategic framework. (Armstrong 1999)HRD is organized learning activities arranged within an organization to improve performance and/or personal growth for the purpose of improving the job, the individual and/or the organization. (Gilley and England 1989)
HRD is the creation of a learning culture, within which a range of training, development and learning strategies both respond to corporate strategy and also help to shape and influence it. (McCracken and Wallace 2000)HRD is the study and practice of increasing the learning capacity of individual, groups, collectives and organizations through the development and application of learning based interventions for the purpose of optimizing human and organizational growth and effectiveness. (Chalofsky 1992)
HRD focuses on theory and practice related to training, development and learning within organizations, both for individuals and in the context of business strategy and organizational competence formation. (Gourlay 2000)HRD is the field of study and practice responsible for the fostering of a long-term work-related learning capacity at the individual. group and organizational levels. As such, it includes – but is not limited to – training, career development and organizational development (Watkins and Marsick 1997)

As per one of the definitions of HRD, it essentially consists of three ‘Cs’ namely (i) competencies, (ii) commitment, and (iii) culture. All three are needed to make an organization function well. The organizations cannot ensure efficiency without competencies. It faces slow pace pf growth because of lack of commitment. Culture supports the organization to have a long live. It has been rightly observed that ‘every human being is born as something new, something which never existed before. Each is born with the capacity to win, and each has his own unique potentials, capabilities, and limitations. Hence every organization is required to nurture its human resource. HRD is an approach founded on the belief that employees are capable of growth when given an environment which facilitates individual growth.

HRD is undergoing presently an evolutionary transition. While HRD has retained some of its roots in the areas of education, and training and development, its focus in recent times has broadened considerably. HRD has now diverging purposes of meeting the needs of individual employee as well as those of the organization. There is a shift in the role of HRD in the organization level. From a tactical reactionary level, the role has a shift towards having an impact at a strategic level. In recent times, an increasing importance is being given to the role of HRD in improving the performance of the organization. HRD is being given an important position in the strategy development of the organization since it has a high value and has a big contribution in improving the organizational performance. HRD has now a multi-faceted nature which includes the orientation towards learning as well as performance improvement. Tab 2 gives the developmental shifts in defining and practicing of HRD.

Tab 2 Developmental shifts in defining and practicing HRD
SubjectTraditional viewRecent view
FocusPerformance improvement of job, organizational and individual needs separatedContinuous development of competence, organizational and individual needs integrated
Change, learning, time perspectiveQuantitative, adaptive, short termQuantitative and qualitative, adaptive and transformative, long term
OrganizationA machineA flexible system
Organizational contextStatic, predictableDynamic, surprising
Status of HRDSupportIntegrated
Placement of HRDTraining centre, external course, external consultancyManagement, strategy, every day job, internal consultancy
HRD activitiesFocused on trainingVarious developmental interventions

HRD is about learning and that learning is something which occurs within the employees to cause their development. It is concerned with improved performance of the people within the work environment. It is not concerned with improving people’s health or their personal relations with their family and friends. It utilizes the theories of change and how these relate to the organization. Change affects individuals, groups, and the organization and HRD is predominantly concerned with the change of individuals.

HRD is organized learning experiences in a definite time period to increase the possibility of improving employee’s job performance. It is the study and practice of increasing the learning capacity of the individuals, groups, collectives, and the organization through the development and application of learning-based interventions for the purpose of optimizing human and organizational growth and effectiveness.

HRD is an organizational activity which is related to management by reference to three major stands. Traditionally speaking, the first stand which is the dominant view states that the HRD is a reactive activity which is expected to provide possible HRD solutions when needed by the management. The second stand emphasizes HRD as an independent and proactive position and as a provider of opportunities to develop competencies at different managerial levels within the organization. The use of HRD solutions can show good tactical thinking from the management side, but such solutions are not necessarily to be integrated with larger strategic plans. The third and perhaps the most recent and now predominant stand emphasizes HRD as a strategic activity which has strong linkages to the management of the organization. Hence, the provision of different HRD solutions is designed in close integration with strategic planning. In addition, a fourth stand which projects an integrative and learning-oriented view of HRD has more recently emerged, especially in the second half of the nineties.

Interestingly, the above stated four stands resemble with the three distinct discourses which HRD practitioners talk about the training, education, and development. These three discourses are ‘tell’ which refers to the traditional provision of training services, ‘sell’ which refers to the business oriented selling of training and development within the organization, and ‘gel’, which refers to the facilitation of different forms of learning at both the individual and organizational levels.

HRD serves a strategic role by assuring the competence of employees to meet the organizational present and future performance demands. Along with meeting present organizational needs, HRD also serves an important role in shaping strategy and enabling the organizations to take full advantage of emergent strategies in the area of the organizational operations.

HRD is about the functioning of the human beings in productive systems. The purpose of HRD is to focus on the resource which humans bring to the success equation, both the personal success and the organizational success. The two core threads of HRD are (i) individual and organizational learning, and (ii) individual and organizational performance. Some view learning and performance as alternatives or rivals, while the majority of the people see them as partners in a formula for success. Hence, assessment of HRD successes or results can be categorized into the domains of learning and performance. In all cases the intent is improvement.

The three basic functions of HRD which are identified are (i) individual development, (ii) career development, and (iii) organizational development. HRD is the integrated use of training and development, career development, and organizational development to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. It contributes in a variety of ways and at the managerial levels in the organization to provide support. From the practical point of view, HRD is frequently being organized merely as a subset of HRM (human resource management) and is viewed primarily in relation to the management. Fig 1 shows these three basic functions of HRD.

Fig 1 HRD activities of an organization

Individual development – Individual development of the employees is carried out through the training and the development activities. There is a mysterious difference between training and development, where development indicates that it is future oriented. Development implies learning which is not necessarily related to the employee’s present job. In contrast, training traditionally focuses on helping employees improve performance of their present jobs. Further, training is the process of learning which  is organized and carried out by the organization for equipping the employees with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to carry out their jobs and to improve their present job performance.

Development can be viewed as the learning process to develop the employees in general and not necessarily related to their present job. The development focus on the future while training focus on the present jobs. Through the training process, employees acquire capabilities to perform their jobs efficiently. Focus of development is to prepare the employees for future work responsibilities as well as on increasing their capacities to perform their present jobs.

Training and development in combination is intended to improve the performance of the employees through a learning process which involves the acquisition of knowledge, improvement of skills, concepts, rules, or changing of attitudes and behaviours in the organizational settings. Further, training focuses on changing or improving the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the individuals. Also, training is a planned effort by the organization to facilitate the learning of job-related behaviour on the part of its employees. It helps the employees to acquire better skills. The combination of the two i.e., training and development is important since the management cannot dispense one of them. Training is important for solving the present problems, while development is needed to improve employees’ capabilities for avoiding future problems because of the future changes. Without doubt, both the training and the development are different in content (as shown in Tab 3), but both are complementary to each other and the result is aimed at achieving the goal and objectives of the organization.

Tab 3 Differentiation between ‘training’ and ‘development’
Dimensions Training  Development
GoalTransfer of necessary skills to the present employeesDevelopment of general skills for employees
FocusFocus for present job tasksWillingness to accept the requirements of the new tasks
InfluenceOn the present performanceOn the future performance.
TimeShort term with focus on specific deficienciesLong term for enriching employees’ skills and a variety of tasks to address variables
LevelAllocated to employees in working and administrative levels as a wholeDedicated to management levels as a whole.
RequirementsDepends on the shortage or lack of skillsDepends on personal ambition

Hence, training and development can be defined as a process which aims at the development and improvement of human resource through continuing education to support them with core qualifications for performing their functions effectively. On-going training and development aim at strengthening human resource capabilities to complete present and future tasks.

Career development – It is a general term used to describe a number of activities aimed at improving both the individual performance as well as the organizational performance. Career development has been explored extensively because of its benefits to individuals and the organization. It is an ongoing process by which an individual progresses through a series of stages, each of which is characterized by a relatively unique set of issues, themes, and tasks. It involves two distinct processes namely (i) career planning, and (ii) career management.

Career planning involves activities performed by individuals, frequently with the assistance of counselors and others, to assess their skills and abilities in order to establish a realistic career plan. Career management involves taking the necessary steps to achieve career plan, and normally focuses more on what the organization can do to foster employees’ career development. There is a strong relationship between career development and training and development activities. Career plans can be implemented, at least in part, through organization’s training programmes. The programmes which meet the individual needs are referred to as career planning (e.g., career planning workshops, teaching of advancement strategies) programmes, while those programmes which are related to organizational needs are termed career management (e.g., performance appraisals, management succession and replacement planning) programmes.

Career development has both personal and organizational dimensions. Additionally, career development is a formal approach used by the organization to ensure that the employees with the proper qualifications and experiences are available when needed. Individual careers and organizational needs are not separate and distinct. Organizations are to assist employees in career planning so that the needs of both can be satisfied. Hence, career development is a process to improve both the human resource and the organizational performance. There are several strategies which can be followed for career development.

Career planning is an ongoing process for achieving satisfaction and motivation of the employees so that the employees ascend the job levels in sequential steps beginning with the first step in the ladder until retirement age by self-assessment (skills, knowledge, and ability) and with the help of other methods (workshops, and teaching etc.). On the other hand, organization level, where career management is used, takes into account what is the present needs of the employees and what are going to be the future needs of the organization, and the necessary steps are taken accordingly for achieving the career plan. This is done through performance appraisals, management succession, job rotation, training and learning, and consultation etc.

Career development is important since (i) it improves both the employees’ performance and the organizational performance, (i) it increases employees’ productivity which helps in achieving the organizational goals, (iii) it assists the employees in identifying options and opportunities, and explains to them what is the expected performance needed from them, (iv) it helps the employees to develop their skills and abilities and to fill the gap between their abilities and job requirements, (v) it identifies the qualified individuals for assuming the leadership and higher management positions, (vi) it urges to spread the spirit of happiness and satisfaction among the employees, and (vii) it ensures that there is no problems in the organizational structure and functions or in the system of promotion.

Organization development – It involves organizational reflection, system improvements, and planning and self-analysis. It helps employees to adapt any changes in the organization. Organizational development consists of the processes and practices through which the organization engages to link its employees with its mission. In its broadest sense, organizational development means anything which is done in the organization to promote positive change or growth.

Organizational development has a long-range perspective and is to be supported by the organizational management. It effects change, although not exclusively, through education, change, and learning. It emphasizes employee participation in assessing the present and a positive future state, making free and collaborative choices on how the implementation to proceed, and empowers the system to take responsibility for achieving and evaluating the results.

Organizational development is the process of developing the present condition of the organization to fit better with the changes in the external environment. It improves the working environment by solving present problems and reduces the gap between departments and employees with improved cooperation, coordination, and collective action. It increases the effectiveness of the organization and the employees. It integrates the goals of the employees with those of the organization.

Organization development is important since it emphasizes both macro-organizational and micro-organizational changes. Macro-organizational changes are intended to ultimately improve the effectiveness of the organization as a whole, whereas micro-organizational changes are directed at individual employees, small groups, and teams. For example, several organizations have sought to improve organizational effectiveness by introducing employee involvement programmes which need fundamental changes in work expectations, reward systems, and reporting procedures.HRD is very important for the organization since it makes significant contribution for the improvement of the organization’s performance. Some of these aspects are described below.

HRD develops the skills and knowledge of individual employee. Hence it helps to provide competent and efficient human resource as per the job requirement. To develop the employees’ skill and competencies, different training and development programmes are used.

HRD helps to grasp the career development opportunities through development of human skills and knowledge. Career development consists of personal development efforts through a proper match between the development opportunities with employees’ need.

Trained and efficient employees are committed towards their jobs which is possible through HRD. If employees are provided with proper development opportunities, they feel committed to the work and the organization. When people in the organization are well oriented and developed, they show higher degree of commitment in actual work place. This inspires them for better performance, which ultimately leads to job satisfaction.

HRD facilitates planning, and management of change in the organization. It also manages conflicts through improved labour management relation. It develops organizational health, culture and environment which lead to change management.

Training and development programmes are tools of HRD. They provide opportunity for employees’ development by matching training needs with organizational requirement. Moreover, HRD facilitates integrated growth of employees through training and development activities.

HRD develops behaviour change and sharpen abilities of the employees needed to perform organizational activities. As a result of which, employees can give better performance in the organization which in turn leads to higher organizational effectiveness.

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