Towards an Integrated Model of Strategic Human Resource Management-An Australian Case Study

By Compton, Robert-Leigh | Research and Practice in Human Resource Management, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Towards an Integrated Model of Strategic Human Resource Management-An Australian Case Study


Compton, Robert-Leigh, Research and Practice in Human Resource Management


ABSTRACT

Over the past twenty years much has been written on the need for contemporary organisations to adopt an empowered leadership style supported by innovative and integrated human resource management strategies. This paper examines a major Australian government owned energy company's leadership and HRM strategies in the context of a ten year campaign by the government to privatise the industry. A strategy to create a new and empowered culture is analysed in terms of its drive to not only prepare the workforce for a privatised industry, but to also develop a highly competent leadership team alongside a supportive and integrated competency based model for strategic human resource management. The primary aim of the developed model is to ensure that all leadership competencies and HR strategies flow directly from the organisation's strategic plan. A second aim of the model is to ensure that all HR strategies and processes are linked together creating a synergistic relationship with internal business partners alongside key external customers and suppliers. The third aim of the model is to ensure that all affected people are engaged in the change process by way of focus groups and individual interviews. Radical change, innovative leadership competencies and a supportive and an integrated human resource management model will be required if this company is to maintain its place in the new national market. The integrated HRM model developed as a result of this study also has general applicability across any medium to large organisation.

Key words Strategic human resource, leadership competencies, rewards

INTRODUCTION

More than a decade has passed since Richard Rudman, the then Director of Policy and Professional Development with New Zealand's Institute of Personnel Management, made the following comments.

HRM has been stagnant for 15 years with few ideas or innovative people practices--no matter how hard HR professionals try for their place in the sun, it will never get any better unless they align themselves with business strategy (Rudman 1997: 4).

Rudman's statement is still cause for concern and discomfort for many HR professionals and academics around the world, including Australia. His views were validated just a few years later when the 1999 State of the Art/Practice study involving over 200 HRM thought leaders from around the world gave Australian HR professionals a 'pass' grade, only (Tebbel 2000). Two years later, extensive research conducted in the small to medium size Australian business sector concluded that the HR profession's view of its organisational importance was not shared by their respective CEOs (Nankervis, Compton & Savery 2002). More recently, Dr John Sullivan, Professor of HRM at the San Francisco State University and a recent visitor to the Australian professional HRM conference circuit, echoed these same sentiments with a quite damning critique of the status of the HR profession in Australia. In particular he was highly critical of HR's lack of action when it came to building effective partnerships with their organisation's business managers, and specifically, their lack of direction when it came to retaining key talent. He reserved some of his sharpest comment on the welfare mentality that he believed to be at the root of this dilemma (Sullivan 2004). In simple terms, there is a wide gap between the rhetoric and effective HR strategies.

In what might be seen as reinforcement of these views espoused, Jo Mithen, former Executive Director of the Australian Human Resources Institute, implored the HR profession to take a long, hard look at itself. With the current Australian government determined to reform the workplace so as to provide more flexibility, Mithen argues that the task of turning the government legislation into reality will rest largely with the HR profession. However, it will be up to individual HR professionals to recognise the opportunity for what it is--a chance to reinvent itself (Mithen 2003). …

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