Your New Role in the Organizational Drama: Measuring Effectiveness

Article excerpt

Your New Role in the Organizational Drama: Measuring Effectiveness

American organizations today are experiencing significant turbulence, and HRD functions are feeling it. On the one hand, HRD practitioners aer receiving the recognition they've sought for a long time; on the other, this recognition means they must live up to their potential. Theyhave to deliver!

Gone are the bit parts they've been used to playing: They're now expected to perform on center stage. The lights go up and the curtain opens, but too many HRD professionals still have a "chorus-line" mentality. A recently completed doctoral dissertation concluded that top management excludes HRD managers from strategic planning because they perceive these individuals as reactive, service-oriented functionaries--a sort of supporting cast.

But HRD professionals needn't continue playing the same role. They can help their organizations if they understand the play and the production and how the stage should be set. They can be effective.

Structuring the model

We recently completed research in which we attempted to identify and define "effectiveness" of HRD functions in a useful way. Our thoughts prior to starting this project were that, according to many indicators, American business and industry is in a period of chaotic and sometimes violent change. We also believed that these indicators point to human incompetence and inefficiency as perhaps the most critical problems to solve if we are to overcome productivity problems and decrease business failures.

The chapter of most HRD functions is to help the human resources of organizations become more competent and productive and to help organizations meet their goals. But, we reasoned, if HRD functions were performing as effectively as they could be, there would be fewer organizations in trouble and more organizations successfully meeting their goals. Therefore, by designing a blueprint or model of effectiveness for HRD functions, we believed we would have an opportunity to help them--which in turn will help their organizations.

Our first step was to develop a definition of HRD effectiveness. We speculated that once we identified what effectiveness looks like, we'd be able to develop a model and a process for evaluating and increasing it in HRD functions.

We built a knowledge base from which to create this model. This base took the form of a multiphased research study that included

* a literature search for articles about successful HRD functions;

* a delphi panel of HRD experts who identified 10 elements that are critical to HRD effectiveness;

* an organizational survey that identified four major criteria of HRD effectiveness as defined by successful HRD functions;

* interviews with managers of effective HRD functions;

* hours of analyzing and massaging the data into a meaningful and useful model and process.

We concluded that the overriding goal of the effective HRD function was to build a responsive resource--a goal that captured for us the essence of all our findings. This goal evoked a vision of a thoroughly competent, professional HRD team that is constantly building and maintaining a track record of high-quality products and services through close relationships with line and staff management and that enjoys the credibility it has worked extremely hard for and deserves. We believe this is what HRD effectiveness is all about.

The foundation blocks for this vision are three criteria that need to be achieved to make the vision a reality:

* close relationships with line and staff management;

* a highly professional HRD staff;

* a track record of high-quality products and services.

Our research determined that the way to achieve these criteria and fulfill the vision is by meeting the standards in Figure 1.

We found that the standards all apply to some extent to each of the three criteria; based on this conclusion we structured the model as a matrix, shown in Figure 2. …