What is Human Resource Development

Human resource development is the title for more than one state agency in the U.S. The actual definition of the term and the practices that flow from it may be derived from the Constitution of a non-profit foundation called Academy of Human Resources Development:”Human Resource Development (HRD) shall be taken to mean a process that includes the principles, methods, and techniques used to assess and meet the learning and organization development needs of employees and their organizations. Human Resource Development has the goal of fostering long-term, work-related learning in organizations for the purposes of advancing individuals and organizations.”

That is a noble goal, far removed from the practices of state agencies that hand out unemployment checks or manage social service programs. Human resource development in the private sector is the art and science of maximizing employee performance.

A more pragmatic term for the practice is “workforce management”. In any case, the development of human resource management is recognition of the fact that an institutional approach may be successful in teaching employees and developing a loyalty factor that a paycheck alone cannot induce. Human resource development is often the purview of human resource consultants, who contract with a business to work with its employee ranks in order to achieve improvements in productivity and morale.

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Human resource development may also be as simple as providing adult education opportunities to employees, in order that they may move up the promotional ladder. Some companies will take a proprietary interest in helping an employee with initiative advance through the ranks.

There have been instances of companies instituting human resource development standards for their management and basing some percentage of the manager’s compensation on employee improvement. This approach makes every manager become acutely interested in talent development. Investment in HR development has to begin with a standardized annual employee evaluation, all the way to the top.

Team building and internal loyalty has to be a priority, and must in some fashion be taught system-wide to middle management employees. Moving promising young employees back into the educational system is also part of the process. Taking the time to put management ranks through a two day team-building seminar is another standard tool. At some point, human resources development becomes a priority for employees up and down the ranks, instead of an afterthought or a mentoring gesture occurring on an occasional basis.

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Some human resource development professionals feel that performance appraisals are outmoded, ineffective, and awkward for both manager and employee. These professionals urge rather the institution of “performance management” wherein an employee’s performance is measured against predetermined goals, both for the employee and the working group. Integral to this process is feedback from the employee: the assessment dialogue isn’t worth much if it occurs just once a year in an isolated setting.

Or so goes the argument. One of the more chilling terms to come out of the modern focus on maximizing job performance is “human capital management.” Sounds pretty dehumanizing. It’s nice that an employee is recognized as having worth resembling equity, but it seems to make the worker more a cipher on a sheet than a father of two strolling in with his traveling coffee mug in hand.

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