HUMAN RESOURCES INTEGRATION
SYED ALAMDAR ALI
Hailey College of Banking & Finance Lahore
Oct 08 - 21, 2007
From the 1970s onwards, managers in the industrialized countries felt themselves to be on a roller-coaster of change, expected to deliver improved business performance by whatever means they could muster. Their own careers and rewards were increasingly tied to those improvements and many were dispatched to the ranks of the unemployed for not acting quickly and imaginatively enough. Caught between the need to manage decisively and fear of failure, managers sought credible new ideas as a potential route for survival. Like fashions in hairstyle and clothing, management ideas evaporated. Consequently any best-selling management concept would not survive long before being overtaken by the next 'big idea'. Significantly, however, a consistent theme has prevailed for more than two decades: the most successful organizations make the most effective use of their people - their human resources.
In the present era there is a widespread agreement throughout the operational, regulatory, and fiscal communities that integrating human factors and resource management principles into operations is a wise course of action. There is also increasing recognition that emerged primarily from the experiences of airline mangers that human error is an inevitable consequence of a human-operated system and that the conditions that lead to error can be managed. Senior managers are therefore increasingly using human factors professionals and human factors departments to assist the organization with the identification and management of risk and conditions associated with human error. Increased interest in human factors integration has also been fueled by operational successes. In most of the organizations it has become even more a question of how to integrate rather than if an organization should integrate human factors and resource management.
Here the term resource management has been used comprehensively within the larger discipline of human factors which includes several derivatives of Crew Resource Management (CRM); Maintenance Resource Management (MRM), Dispatch Resource Management (DRM), Team Resource Management (TRM) and Corporate Resource Management (CRM). Simultaneously the translation of human factors science should happen on at least three levels; the organization, the workplace, and the task.
In a research paper contributed by Dr. Vince Mancuso, titled "Moving from Theory to Practice: Integrating Human Factors into an Organization" the follow recommendations have been proposed to accomplish the integration objective:
Avoiding the "Quick Fix" Trap: Corrections to errors or human performance deficiencies too often focus on individual or crew remediation (punishment or additional training). Administering discipline or training the individual or crew is usually the quickest, easiest, and most familiar response to a deficiency. While there are times when discipline and/or training may be the correct response to a human performance deficiency, an accident, or incident, too often these "quick fixes" are used as bandages that do not correct the systemic or root causes of the problem. It does very little good to spend a lot of effort building "training vaccinations" or sending memos to change individual performance without considering the departmental and organizational components that contribute to individual performance. A quick fix (a memo, a briefing, etc.) may change behavior for a short time but the underlying habit patterns of the individual, the department, and the organization will generally drive behaviors back to the original state unless the underlying system is also fixed.
To look beyond individual performance, it is important to identify and assess the systemic and organizational factors that shape individual performance. A simple "fix-the-operator" approach to human performance neglects the reality and influence of other systemic contributors. To have a sustained effect on individual performance, the human factors programs must also address the organizational structures and processes that affect attitude, behavior, and culture.
Sufficient Resources to Sustain Change: One of the important attributes of a human factors department will be sufficient resources (staff, budget, equipment, commitment) to sustain integration of the department and the programs. Integrating human factors into an organization's culture is like planting a tree in an arid climate; it must be nurtured and supported until it has deep enough roots to reach ground water after which time it will continue to survive on its own. This concept applies equally to the entire human factors department as it does for individual human factors projects. The end result of a "quick fix" approach is that the organization ends up where it started without the benefit of the money and time spent on the quick fix.
A Single Corporate Focal Point for Consistency: Many organizations have elements of human factors-oriented programs, policies, procedures, documents, and training scattered throughout the organization. The challenge of the human factors manager is to bring some consistency to the human performance programs that exist and to fill in the gaps where they do not exist. As the Human Factors Manager begins to scan existing programs, he or she will invariably identify gaps and duplications.
The dissociated nature of departmental programs is the genesis of many gaps and duplications in human factors programs. A manager must ask "Is it possible that our organization has outstanding technical merit and performance as individual departments, yet on an organizational level we are inefficient?" While it is important that human factors programs be tailored in language and function to each area of the company, it is equally important that there is a corporate-level focal point for core human factors related development. This focal point insures consistency while identifying and reducing duplication of effort. Systemic changes to philosophies, policies, procedures and practices, etc. must be consistent across organizational boundaries to become part of the corporate culture and style.
Placement at the Corporate Level: An early challenge for the senior manager who oversees the human factors department will be to create an organizational structure (form) that will allow for sufficient human factors breadth and depth to be able to shape attitudes, behaviors, and culture across organizational and operational boundaries. To accomplish this, the human factors manager must have the authority to reach across the whole operation.
Cross-Organizational and Cross-Departmental Reach: Many systemic difficulties that lead to human performance deficiencies are born from insufficient communications across departmental or operational boundaries. It is not reasonable to assume that all the individuals who affect the organizational structures and processes will have a comprehensive awareness of human factors science to be able to identify and incorporate these tenets. Without some common corporate focal point, it is even more unlikely that different departments (or operators in the case of contracts) will integrate these principles consistently. There must be an entity that assists with the integration of sound human factors principles consistently across departmental and operational lines.