How can HRM assist in creating a learning organisation?

By September 13, 2018 Teaching

Introduction Both Human Resources Management (HRM) and learning organisation (LO) take an important role in improving organisational performance and help to achieve sustainable development in the changing economic environment. Nowadays many organizations focus on Human Resources Management because it is the management skill in developing the organization to be higher competitive. On the other hands, HRM assists organisation develops better strategic plans and become “leaning organisation”.

It increases the competitiveness and adapt to the fast growing economy. In this article, we will explore and analyse the key concepts and theories applied to these two disciplines including their definitions and discuss how HRM assist in creating the learning organisation and what barriers it face and make difficulties in creating a leaning organisation. Firstly I will point out the criteria that involve in Human Resources Management and how HRM contribute to the Organisation’s plan, as well as introduce the concept of competitive advantage.

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Then I will introduce learning organisation (LO) and how organisational learning benefits the company. After that, we will investigate how the practices of HRM assist in creating a learning organisation in and what will be the barrier and difficulties. Finally, it will be the conclusion for how HRM assist in creating LO and the barriers of it. What does HRM involve? In this ten years time, HRM is one of the most important management studies in Business. Managers and owners of the organization view employees as a human resources rater then personnel management.

In general, the HRM function concerned with planning for the provision of the human resources that are needed by the organization to achieve its strategic goals. (CLMS) Bartol and Martin (1994) pointed out that HRM is the management of various activities designed to enhance the effectiveness of an organization’s work force in achieving organizational goals. HRM functions as important strategic role that assist the organization to adapt fast changing economy and culture, so the management thinking has been changed and they need to implement strategic plans in HRM.

Human Resources Management is a discipline comprises a wide range of theories and concepts, it is a management involve in HR planning, staffing, performance evaluation, training and development, compensation and rewards, as well as employees relations. From Price (2007), human resources emphasizes on the abilities, skills and knowledge that are benefit for the organizations of their employees. Human Resource Management contributes to the organization’s strategic plans by different criteria.

Firstly, HRM involves in strategic plan and staffing which helps to identify timely manpower needs and recruiting the right staffs at the right time to place them in suitable position. Secondly, in order to maintain good performance from the employees, HR department can motivate people to achieve the goals by compensation and benefits. Also, HRM improve employee’s performance by monitoring and appraisals. It also helps to identify the organization’s competencies by the Human Resources Development (HRD).

Both HRM and HRD create a distinct competitive advantage through people, more effective management of knowledge, intellect and human capital resources. HRM does not only function within the HR department, it also fulfilled by managers throughout the whole organization. For example, when there is performance evaluation and appraisals, it involves not only HR managers but also line managers in all departments. HR management and line managers share responsibility. HR specialist also establishes policies and assist managers in applications and seek information on best practice, educate managers to put program in place.

HRM also responsible for develop employees in response to unstable economic environment. The Importance of Human Resources Development According to Porter (1975), the long term effectiveness of an organization depends on its ability to develop, an adequate supply of people who are prepared to fill the jobs that will exit in the future”. Organizational development involves changing or adapting the whole organization in some way so that it can meet new or emerging challenges.

Human Resource Development (HRD) is concerned both with current and future skill requirement. Training are the activities aims at generating skills learning to enhance one’s current job and performance, but development aim at generating learning for the growth of the employee without any immediate ties to job performance. If an organization needs to develop employees and itself in the long term and adapt to the changing environment continuously, it has to be focus on developmental activities, rather than on training for immediate skills need.

The long term planning helps employees to develop for careers, not just for particular skills. Human resources development comprises the procedures and process that purposely seek to provide learning activities to enhance the skills, knowledge, attitudes and other abilities of people, teams and the organization so that there is a change in action to achieve the desired outcomes. HRD should put afford on changing or adapting the whole organization in some way so that it can meet new or emerging challenges. Learning Organization

The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage (Senge, 1990), organization therefore should develop themselves by different types of organizational learning, learning should take place at all organizational levels and the strategic process should recognise inputs from all employees to respond to external pressures, like globalisation and the market driven economy. Also, being a learning organization has the knowledge to maintain better link resource to the customer needs.

If the learning organisation is created successfully, the organization can maintain levels of innovation and remaining competitive. It improves quality of outputs at all levels. According to Peter Senge (1990), learning organization is an organization, which has the ability to carry out adaptive learning and generative learning for a flexible development. It encourages learning among its people. It promotes exchange of information between employees hence creating a more knowledgeable workforce. This produces a very flexible organization where people will accept and adapt to new ideas and changes through a shared vision.

According to Peter Senge, a learning organization exhibits five main characteristics: System thinking, Personal mastery, Mental models, a Shared Vision and Team Learning. First, an organization must learn like people in order to develop itself and it can take the advantage when it faces competition in the long term. Then, another feature of LO might be different levels of organization such as individuals; group or team and organization must have their own characteristic. There should be a learning culture within the organization, because culture plays an important role in developing LO.

To create a learning organization, Garvin, Edmondson and Gino (2008) propose we should focus on three building blocks. They are supportive environment, concrete learning processes and leadership that reinforce learning. And the feedbacks are always needed to be concerned, in order to further investigate the problem and find the ways to solve and improve. Creating a Learning Organization with HRM Learning Organization is very popular issue recently since most of the organization face competitive stress and difficulties.

Therefore, learning organization has gained popularity as the “capacity for change, and improvement is linked with learning and to obtain and sustain competitive advantage. ” (Marquardt, 1996) Human Resource Management can help to establish an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage by organizing strategy planning, selecting of staffs, training and evaluating, offering rewards and compensations, as well as maintain the relationship between organisation and others in the workforce. First of all, organisation must be aware that learning is necessary before they can develop into a learning organisation.

Learning should be taken place at all organisational levels and strategic process should recognise inputs from all employees. They need to accept that once they decide organisational learning in the workplace proceed, it needs to be carry on in all levels inside the organisations, including junior and management level. Human Resource Management is then responsible for assisting in creating the appropriate environment and culture for learning organisations. They need to be well planned and organised, so they can promote Learning Organisation to all employees and levels.

In organizations, four contextual factors which affect the probability of learning are: corporate culture conducive to learning, strategy that allows flexibility, an organizational structure that allows both innovativeness and new insights, and the environment (Fiol and Lyles, 1985). All these factors are prerogative of Human resource management (HRM) domain. Gardiner and Whiting (1997) also indicate a new emphasis on the individual employees in organizations It is advised that the traditional functions of HR practitioners may be modified to encourage organizational learning.

We now will focus on functions of HRM and how it assists in creating Learning Organization with Peter Senge’s five main features to create a learning organisation. They are strategy plan, staffing, performance evaluation, training and development, compensation and rewards, as well as employees’ relationship. Strategy plan In order to develop learning culture to all levels and employees in the organisation, HR department need to set a clear well define goal for learning. Managers and HR department can redesign jobs and work systems in order to assist in creating a LO.

The right organisational culture and structure facilitate learning, management should plan the organisation to be openness, reflectivity as well as accept errors and uncertainties in an organization, it integrates all function into a cohesive structure. A flatter organisational structure is a good environment for promoting transmission of information between employees so create a more informed workforce. Making HR strategic plan develop System thinking, which is one of the feature of LO that mentioned by Peter Senge (1990).

Organizations are a system of interrelationships, to become more successful we need to analyse these relationships and find the problems in them. This will allow an organization to eliminate obstacles to learn. Human resource management can help organisation to set up learning culture by their strategic plans, and promote the culture in all career levels and department inside the organisation, so that all employees can have a shared vision. Staffing Comprehensive employee recruitment and selection procedures are one of the most important parts in HRM (Davenport, 2000).

Moreover, a determining factor of the effectiveness of organisation learning is the quality of their employees. Therefore one aspect of link of HRM and learning organization is the practise of employee selection and recruitment. The best-fit employees could be benefit for generating valuable knowledge and assumptions that improve organization performance further. The recruitment strategy should be designed with the aims of selecting fit employees who have the nature or personality that easier to be trained as the member of accepting the corporate culture and flexibility (Davenport, 2000), not only based on their experience and knowledge.

It is known as a very important human resources practice in creating a leaning organisation. According to Senge (1990), the commitment by an individual to the process of learning is known as Personal Mastery. Individual learning is acquired through staff training and development, however learning cannot be forced when an individual not willing to learn. If we choose somebody willing to know, they can work on their own goal and grow, in order to bring mechanism for individual learning to be transferred to organizational learning.

As HR managers or recruiter, they should choose the candidates who fit for new vacancies based on their patient to learn and willingness to develop themselves. Performance Evaluation To maintain sustainable growth and development of employees, there are always review and evaluation of performance. This process helps an organization to learn and get reflection. People always learn best from their mistakes, employees can get the feedback from managers about their performance, and then they can acknowledge their weakness and try to improve.

It is a double loop learning process, which the employees evaluate previous strategies and thought on the products, services, customers and norm. According to Peter Senge’s mental model in the fifth discipline, both managers and employees need to be open to give suggestion and recognise the weakness. Then they will be brave enough to face their mistakes and weakness. It is important to replace confrontational attitudes with an open culture that promotes inquiry and trust. They need to evaluate, investigating the problem, unwanted values need to be discarded.

This is a recurring process which known as double loop learning, which is the key to create a learning organization (Senge, 1990). When identifying and dealing with problems, generative learning put the focus on ever lasting practice and feedback in the consideration of the situation of organization. Also both managers and employees need to get the share vision in order to create a common identity that focus on future learning. HR department and managers can design a scheme that encourage employees not threaten to voice out their comments on organisation and management style. For example, if they are willing to give reasonable and

useful suggestion on how to solve the existing problems in organisation, they will get bonus and rewards. Or employees are encouraged to identity individual’s weakness, and change or overcome it actively. Through the process of evaluating, acknowledgement of weakness, and further improvement, people can learn and develop with the double loop learning. Training and Development Training is the most effective and efficient tool for creating learning organization. In the process of training, individual become more important and active in the role to achieve the objective of organizations.

On the basis of this kind of training, information and knowledge should be treated as shared vision in order to make sure employees are eager to learn. The employee and taught and learn to be familiar with the whole working procedures and how the knowledge and information management system is linked to the value of organization in the process of training. This kind of training would help new employee get a clear understanding of the company’s mission and values. The old employees can realize the organization’s developing direction and get a better direction for learning.

At the same time, through using a common style of language and a shared vision, communication and trust among employees might be easy to set up through the strategic training. The training should not be just provide to managers, but also the junior position, this is related the concept of team learning from Peter Senge (1990). For maximum impact, knowledge must be shared in systematic and clear defined ways. Sharing can take place among individuals, groups or whole organization. (Garvin, Edmondson and Gino, 2008). The team needs to learn together and find out the failure so they can learn their mistakes in the futures.

Through the training, managers and employee know how to set up open, flexible atmosphere that facilitate learning. On the other hand, the HR department should set a plan or process that make employee share the most important information he gained from the training session, for example they can let their employees attend training and conferences and share with other staff the most important learning they took. HR can contributes in the indirect way, by providing effective training sessions where trainees are going to develop their skills and learn new things here employees will have something to share with others.

Training is moving from a primary focus on teaching employees specific skills to a broader focus of creating and sharing knowledge (Rakesh Sehgal, 2012) HR department should increase the effectiveness of training by adding more ways and different styles of training, For example, HR department can set up Annual training week where different training activities such as workshops, computer courses, preparation of Case Studies, guest lectures on various topics, group discussion, etc.

Secondly, Adding a training development column where employees and trainees can add recommendation to enhance the particular training session or course. Compensation and rewards It is the HR practice related to Personal Mastery in Five disciplines, which regarding the commitment by an individual to the process of learning. It is important that to develop a culture where personal mastery is practiced in daily life. Compensation and rewards can be a way to develop personal mastery. HR department can design the compensation and benefit plan with care and promote employee’s sense of belongings.

When the physical needs such as salary and welfare are satisfied, people will tend to demand for satisfaction of self-esteem. Through the good package of compensation and rewards, employees are more willing to learn. They don’t just participate the short-term learning which target on the jobs, but also different kinds of learning for the future. In the long term, those learning can be a competitive advantage to help organization to increase their productivity and sense of belongings. Employees Relations

HR department is also responsible for developing the employee relationship with employees, managers and organization as maintain effective workplace relationships in countries where culturally diverse groups work together which can have significant implications for training and HRM practices and required sensitivity to different cultures (CLMS). HR department can promote a cohesive culture of the organization, For example, employees and managers can group together and form a team to join some competition and events, or having company uniform, it give a clearly articulated and a shared vision.

A shared vision motivates staff to learn, and create a common identity for employees so that they can focus and get energy to learn continuously. Also, HR department enhance team learning from the five discipline through participating those events and competition. Team learning requires individual to engage in dialogue and discussion, therefore team members must develop open communication, shared meaning and shared understanding. In general, organizational learning begins from the employee working in the organization, engaging team learning, where knowledge is fathered through employee interactions and learning from each other.

The tacit knowledge is procedurally and systematically acquired and transformed into explicit form and become organizational knowledge, which are assessable by employees or approved parties. Barriers Although Learning organisation is very good for developing the organisation and competitive advantages, it is not easy to be successful in creating LO because there are some barrier in reality. First of all, some organization finds it is difficult to embrace personal mastery because as a concept it is intangible and the benefit cannot be qualified.

Personal mastery can even be a threat to organization, if employees do not engage with a shared vision; personal mastery could be used to advance their own personal visions. In some organisations, a lack of a learning culture can be a barrier to learning. An environment must be created when the employee can share learning without it being devalued and ignored, so more people can benefit from their knowledge and the individuals become empowered. To create a learning organization, it requires changes in the way people work and the acquisition of new skills, all this changes involve personal or attitudinal characteristics.

These are the factor difficult for HR department to control. People who are threatened by change or believe, they will be the most to lose. They are likely to have closed mind sets, and are not willing to engage mental models. Unless implemented coherently across the organization, learning can be viewed as elitist and restricted to senior levels. In this case, learning is not a shared vision; it’s viewed as a form of control but not personal development if the trainings are compulsory. Moreover, the size of organisation will be a barrier to create a learning organization. Because higher complexity and larger population in the formal

organizational structure, weaker inter-employees relations, lower trust, reduced connective efficacy, and less effective communication. Thus, the size of an organizational increase, the effectiveness of international knowledge flows diminishes and the degree of inter-organisational knowledge sharing decreases. In many organisations, there is the limitation on time management in creating a learning organisation, HR department does not create enough time to sit back and think strategically. Also, the economic market change too fast, many managers and organisation want to satisfy immediate needs to adapt changes.

It is too expensive and time consuming to invest money to create a learning organisation; owners of the organization prefer buy-in talents and experience to increase their performance. Conclusion In conclusion, this essay shows that Human Resource Management assists in creating learning organisation in different practices. We can understand the practices and functions that involved in Human resource management and the features of learning organisation. In order to investigate rather Human Resource Management can assist in creating LO, we look at the importance of human resource development and further analysis the reason to develop LO.

It is essential because a learning organisation can help development of organisation to adapt and accommodate the unstable economic situation and external changes such as globalisation. Then we focus on the HR practices that can assist in create LO, such as HR strategy plan, staffing, performance evaluation, training, compensation and rewards, also the employee relationship. In these HR practices, we can see the features of Learning organisation that Peter Senge point out and the example of the practice in real situation that assist in creating a learning organisation.

The main focus on the concept will be a feedback mechanism, the learning system in the LO with a feedback loop can maintain organization’s understanding of its environment and stimulate a change to adapt to the external changes. Although Learning Organisation is very good idea to develop itself to be more competitive in the long term, it is difficult to be created because there are barriers in the reality. They are the limitation on time, money, personal issues and attitudes, the size and structure of the company.


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