The competent human resource manager
The demand for human resource professionals in Jamaica has grown in response to the need for a positive working environment with satisfied employees, and the vital role the human resource (HR) manager plays in helping to create this dynamic.
Every organisation, whether a large corporation or a small business within the public, or private sector, needs a human resource manager. This manager is responsible for recruiting, managing and providing direction for all employees within an organisation. He/she also deals with compensation, hiring, performance management, organisational development, safety, discipline, wellness, employee benefits and training.
Traditionally, HR managers and the HR department by extension, concentrated mainly on performing the administrative functions of an organisation, such as handling employee benefits, or recruiting new staff. Today's HR manager continues to manage these tasks, but in recent years, the role has taken on new meaning. Dave Ulrich, author of the book Human Resource Champions, recommends two additional roles:
As an employee sponsor or advocate, the HR manager plays an integral role in organisational success via his/her knowledge about and advocacy of people. This advocacy includes expertise in how to create a work environment in which people will choose to be motivated, willing to contribute, and happy.
Fostering effective methods of goal setting, communication and empowerment through responsibility, the manager builds employee ownership of the organisation. The HR professional helps establish the organisational culture and climate in which people have the competence, concern and commitment to serve customers well.
In this role, the HR manager provides employee-development opportunities, employee-assistance programmes, organisational development interventions, due process approaches to problem solving, and regularly scheduled communication opportunities.
The constant evaluation of the effectiveness of the organisation results in the need for the HR professional to frequently champion change.
Both knowledge about and the ability to execute successful change strategies make the HR professional exceptionally valued. Knowing how to link change to the strategic needs of the organisation will minimise employee dissatisfaction and resistance to change.
The HR professional champions the identification of the organisational mission, vision, values, goals and action plans. Finally, he or she helps determine the measures that will tell his organisation how well it is succeeding in all of this.
On this basis, HR managers tend to be among the senior management team in most organisations.
In order to become an HR manager, both a bachelor's and a graduate degree in human resources and/or a related area, such as industrial or labour relations, is required, along with previous working experience. In acquiring both degrees, a prospective HR manager should, where possible, seek to pursue courses in compensation, recruitment, training and development, and performance appraisal, as well as courses in principles of management, organisational structure and industrial psychology. Because an interdisciplinary approach is required for this position, other relevant courses to consider include business and public administration, sociology and labour relations.
As is the norm with every job, the personal skills you possess will also play a role in determining whether a career in human resources is right for you.
Human resources courses are offered at all the major tertiary institutions in Jamaica, including the University of the West Indies, University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University, and the University College of the Caribbean. The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica also offers regular seminars for both members and non-members.
Kareen Cox is coordinator, career resources department within the HEART Trust/NTA.
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