HR- The Custodian?

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on April 20, 2014

The question above was raised by Mr Ram Kumar, Head HR ICICI bank at a conference I happened to attend recently at XLRI. His views stuck with me and made me ponder over what Exactly the Role of HR is in an organization.

From my work experience and the experiences of my peers I have always seen that the management of a company is being perceived as the ‘Employers’ as everything we do is directed by the management, done for the management and so on.

But is that exactly the case??

The management’s work involves mostly activities aimed at protecting the interests of the business. As a result most of the decisions taken by the managers are governed by business profitability. Everything is measured in terms of numbers being achieved and end year balance sheets and income statements. As a result it somehow creates a perception among the mind’s of the employees that the ‘Managers’ are the ‘Employers’, more so the management treats the employees as if they are the ones with authority.

I totally unsubscribe to the view, because at best a manager can be described as an ‘Agent’ of the Employer entrusted with the task of safeguarding the interests of the organization and growing the business.

But another important aspect of a manager is to manage the aspirations of people who work under him/her. In a relentless pursuit of business goals, somehow the second part of the responsibility tends to take a back seat. People are considered to be means of achieving business ends. Typically they tend to take the side of ‘Expenses’ on a yearly balance sheet instead of being an Asset.

This is where I believe the significance as well as the challenges of an HR manager lies. He is the one who needs to step up and be the Custodian, who maintains the delicate balance between achieving the organizational goals as well as safeguarding the interests of people who work for it.

So we should ask a question now, on whose side should an HR be on??

In my opinion, HR should be a strong vanguard, who does not take any sides and only stands up for something which is ‘Just’ and ‘Right’.

An HR being the employee of the organization has a major role to contribute to the organizational objectives, but it has to be achieved through the development of the employees of the organization. In my views, a Human Resource manager has a daunting task of creating a psychological construct that builds up the trust of the employees for the organization. This can be done with effective communication and employee involvement. Creating an environment conducive for an employee to give his/her 100percent is the prerogative of the HR manager.

The role of the managers is to ensure social justice and productivity of capital. An HR needs to champion this cause across the organization, to all levels of the hierarchies of management and remind the managers of the dual aspects of their roles. HR should ensure that as the organization growth plan is orchestrated by the managers, the people who are the means to achieving it are not left behind. They also get adequate opportunities and chances to chart out a growth plan for them and feel proud of their contributions to the company’s growth.

In current times, when true differentiator for any organisation is its people, the human resources function becomes crucial to attract, develop and retain talent in the organisation.

In the end we all must realise one thing for sure that if there is one resource which can provide a sustainable competitive advantage to a business, it has to be the human resource. However, for employees to be a competitive advantage rather than a bother, entrepreneurs and managers must change their attitude towards employees in their enterprises. They must see them as the only appreciating assets on the balance sheet, and not as avoidable costs on the P&L account to be turned off and on as quickly as possible.

Today, HR professionals are being assessed for their ability to induce and drive large scale change/transformation, enhance organisation's DNA and impact the business footprint. Additionally, HR as the key custodian of the 'values & culture' within the organisation and have a significant role to play.

This article has been authored by Akhil Sharma from TISS

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