Hi Can someone help to to know the role and responsibility in employee relations. Concept of the same.
From India, Pune
Waleed Al Yarubi
Administration Follow Up Manager
Hr Consultant

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Waleed Al Yarubi


The one comment that I hear more often than any other from employees is why does their manager operate on the fear principle. My answer is generally that we don't teach people how to manage people, instead we take our talented and smart people and promote them to a new role as a people manager and leave them there to sink or swim on their own. In the past we could survive the learning process and the all to frequent failures, because the world simply moved slower. Today we can't.

To accomplish the rate of change that is required of a business enterprise today, we must have every employee on board and contributing to the change process or our competition will beat us to the punch. The company that can elevate the role of employee relations and that can capture the skills, talents, knowledge and creativity of every employee will be richly rewarded for its efforts.


The Role of Employee Relations in the Past:

Most managers (even today) will tell you that the part of their job that they hate the most is managing people. This is the part of the job that makes their stomach churn and makes them hate to come to work. For the most part they hate it because:

They have little formal training about how to manage people

They have conflicting people management styles

They get little or no support from above in employee relations (they're still defending the last lay-off)

They get little support from the Human Resource people, except when they make a mistake

The department that most managers look to for help in this area is Human Resources. But, look at the placement of Human Resources (and employee relations) in most companies - it is generally the least influential department in the company. It is supported by little formal training of other managers about its role and by little useful research to support its actions in employee relations. It does not set real policy, instead it implements decisions about employee relations made by others. In today's world of ideas it should be one of the most important, if not the most important department.

Even more frightening is the lack of good scholarly work aimed at employee relations, motivation etc. Research in this area is very sparse and it is also weak. Some of it is down right bad and could not stand the light of day in a rigorous world. Much of the research is done by behavior psychologists, not by testing in the workplace, but by guessing at what is right based upon individual psychological data. These theorists know almost nothing about a modern business or a modern workforce. Very little research is financed by the enterprise itself.

Consider the usual business school. They are so quantitatively oriented, that the softer less quantifiable sides of business are ignored or minimized. How many courses does the typical business school graduate take that were aimed at "how to manage people." Even those courses that are offered have more content on the legal side than they have the people side. Now compare that number, to the number of courses that were aimed at accounting and finance. There is little doubt about why American managers manage from financial statements rather than from talking to employees or customers. They are trained that way. It is easier to calculate a few ratios and tell yourself that you know what's going on, versus going out and talking to employees and customers and finding out.

Yet while the biggest and hardest part of our day is spent managing people, it is relegated to a skill that is learned by doing, learned by emulating others as you grow in your job, and learned by segmented internal training courses (managing Workers' Compensation costs, etc.). Few managers have learned people management skills in a formal way. For the most part they have learned it from mentors who learned it the same way from their mentors (can probably be traced right back to the 1950's and in some cases back to the beginning of the industrial revolution). Because of this most managers have conflicting management styles; some information learned from one manager who was a "people person" and some from another who "got things done by kicking butt" and from others who set-up a "we against them" environment. Very confusing to the manager and even worse for his employees.

The product doesn't even matter, let alone employees. It's just the numbers. The consequences of this style of management are pretty obvious as we look around American business. A total alienation of a workforce. Absolutely no loyalty (in either direction) for the workforce and for management. And this is so clearly articulated by both employees and by managers, that we have language for it - it's institutionalized.

At the same time we see products that are so poor that they are coming in second to those that are made overseas and shipped here. We see computer software that is rolled out to the market when it is only partially tested. Computer software is our strong suit, but we are inviting any company in any country to take us on in this area based upon quality. Note we use to also make the best cars and the best steel. So when I get upset with management for their treatment of the workforce, someone else ought to be getting even more upset for the products that managers produce.


Today and the Future:

But what is most frightening is we are operating our business enterprise in a world of ideas, a world where change must be made quickly and correctly. Where we can do everything right today, and be out of business tomorrow. We are trying to win in this world with an alienated workforce:

the ideas for change must come from senior managers who are often far separated from the products and the business processes used, and

must be implemented through a grumbling workforce who could care less about some senior manager's view of changes in the marketplace.

We must recognize that employees know more about our products and processes than anyone else. We so desperately need to set up an environment where product and process ideas are brought forth from every level, where the ideas are captured and tested and implemented quickly, before the competition can do it. We need an environment where the need for change is understood and supported by employees because it is good for the company. In a nutshell, we need good employee relation efforts. We need to have employees supporting management's efforts to change the company to stay ahead of the market.

Do many managers work in such an environment? They did in Dr. Deming's companies in Japan. Why did it work there and has not been tried here. The reason lies in his views of employee relations. As mentioned earlier, his views are heavily weighted to employee relations - the most important one of which is driving fear out of the workplace. When employees are fearful, fearful about keeping their jobs, they will not be supportive of change and they can care less about customers. Fear is how American's manage and fear is what makes change very difficult for us.

Employee relations (the foremost of which is driving out fear) starts at the top. The way the CEO and COO look at employees sets the standard for the company. If they see employees as labor cost, then no matter what anyone else in the company tries to do can overcome this perception. If instead they see employees as an amazing resource that knows more about his business processes and products than anyone else, then the transition will be easy. But, consider how these managers learned about managing people, they may have:

Never learned it - they might be out of the technology side and never really managed people. This explains some of their reliance on incentive pay to motivate employees. Big waste of money.

Learned people management by emulating other managers while they were growing as managers. Given their average age, we quickly get back to the management styles of the 1950's and 1960's and employees are seen solely as labor costs.

Or even worse, they are influenced by wall street where the only thing that is seen of the company is a financial statement and employees are seen as labor costs and the time horizon is never longer than 6 months.

They must first understand the importance of employee relations to the future of their company. In today's world of ideas and instant information and communications, other than the product, employee relations is the most important element in their company if they are to thrive or maybe even survive. Products and business' processes can be changed faster using employee input than any other way, employees know the products and processes better than any manager does.

This bodes a great deal of danger for many enterprises in America. Can changes be made here, I frankly doubt it until we are again hurt by foreign competition. We may see it from the EU this time rather than from Japan or the far-east. The EU recognizes that they must have some advantage over us to protect the EU and to penetrate the American market. They will be naturally led to Dr. Deming's views by Japan's example in the 1980's.

When we get the support from top management, then a great deal of training will be required to bring other senior managers and lower level managers to this level. The lower level managers will not be as difficult as the more senior level managers will be because, they are really employees too and understand the cost of fear. The challenge will be at the top, where the RIF is a knee jerk reaction to solve virtually any problem.

From Oman, Muscat

If you are knowledgeable about any fact, resource or experience related to this topic - please add your views.

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