Manage "Human Capital" Strategically

By Odden, Allan | Phi Delta Kappan, April 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Manage "Human Capital" Strategically


Odden, Allan, Phi Delta Kappan


Managing people wisely should be at the core of all school or district improvement work.

Education is a people-intensive proposition. By most estimates, 85% of school and district budgets are devoted to salaries and benefits, a figure that means that the manner in which leaders identify and develop their most important asset determines to a great degree the success of the enterprise. That figure also means that cutting school and district budgets significantly without reducing employees or their compensation is next to impossible.

In the awkward argot of policy and research, what was once known as "human resource management" has become "strategic management of human capital." That phrasing may sound a bit cumbersome, but it neatly captures the new thinking about the strategic role that managing educator talent plays in a district's success. When school and district leaders understand the potential for such strategic management, human resources will no longer be relegated to a back-bench position.

Strategically managing human capital in education is about restructuring the entire human resource system. That means that recruitment, selection, distribution, induction, professional development, performance management and evaluation, compensation, and career progression are all restructured to boost teacher and principal effectiveness in ways that dramatically improve instructional practice and student learning.

In order to accomplish current education goals to educate all children, and especially low-income and minority children, to world-class performance standards, schools need talented and well-prepared teachers and leaders. But the current system doesn't recruit, train, hire, induct, deploy, develop, retain, or strategically manage the top talent needed to accomplish these goals. These shortcomings are most acute in the largest urban districts and in many rural districts. The worst problems include:

* Lack of a comprehensive and strategic human resource management system;

* Historic inability to recruit the best and brightest into education;

* Difficulty staffing high-needs schools, too many of which have excess numbers of unqualified and ineffective teachers and principals;

* Chronic shortages of teachers in such subjects as math, science, and technology;

* High teacher turnover;

* Professional development systems that spend lots of money with little effect on teaching practice or student achievement; and

* Compensation systems that pay teachers for factors unrelated or weakly related to effective instruction or gains in student learning.

No system with these severe and systemic dysfunctions can hope to dramatically improve its performance.

Schools need two key ingredients. The first is talented people. All school systems need smart and capable people at all levels. However, poor urban and rural districts have been on the short end of the educator talent stick for decades. They suffer the most talent shortages and are most in need of strategic talent management. Thus one of their prime emphases should be creating strategies to recruit, place, develop, and retain top talent.

The second ingredient is strategic management of that talent. Just finding talented people and turning them loose is not sufficient. As businesses and other organizations have learned over the past decades, the highest performing organizations not only recruit and retain smart and capable individuals, they also manage them in ways that support the organization's strategic direction. This requires aligning all aspects of the human resource management system (much more than just the personnel or human resource office) around multiple measures of teaching effectiveness. The goal is to redesign the entire human capital management system so that effective teacher talent is acquired, placed strategically and distributed equitably in schools and districts, developed to the district's vision of instructional effectiveness and student performance, and retained over time.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Manage "Human Capital" Strategically
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?