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Emerging trends in HR management

R. DEVARAJAN



TOWARDS THE NEXT ORBIT - A Corporate Odyssey: Edited by Subir Verma; Response Books, B1/I-1, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area, Mathura Road, New Delhi-110044 and National HRD Network, Gurgaon. Rs. 795.

Looking at the evolution of ‘people management' as a profession, one could perceive three stages. Initially, it assumed the garb of ‘welfare', and the person in charge confined himself to the role of a statutory Welfare Officer — managing and maintaining the tapestry, the teacups, and the toilets.

The first few decades after Independence witnessed a plethora of labour legislation, and there appeared on the scene the legalistic personnel pundit, who spent more of his time in the corridors of the court than at the corporate premises. Then, in the second stage, a law degree was deemed an essential armour for the personnel function.

Paradoxically, the most crucial enactment that defines employer-employee relationship continues to be called “The Industrial Disputes Act”! It is time this outmoded nomenclature with an adversarial undertone gave place to a positive and healthy title, “The Industrial Relations Act”.

Now, in the third stage, the swing is towards bonhomie between employer and employee. Partnership and participation are the buzzwords in contemporary industrial relations. In the context of a liberalised and globalised economy, the accent is all the more on cooperation.

Human relations management can no longer be confined to the functional areas of recruitment and retention. HRM must embrace, and include in its portfolio, the strategic business imperatives of the organisation.

It is the ability to connect with the external interface, to understand the demands of the outside environment on the organisation, and to integrate those demands with corporate facets in a holistic fashion that constitutes the core of competency in HRM in the 21 {+s} {+t} century — “the next orbit”, referred to in the title of this book.

Global minefield

The transition to the next orbit hinges on the capability-building prowess of a company. Training and development of employees is, now, a mandatory responsibility of the top management. In the highly competitive world of today, the Indian corporate requires a radical reorientation of its mindset even to stay abreast, let alone surging ahead.

To quote Subir Verma, editor of the volume: “…business has become war, but of a different kind. Earlier the enemies were known, the allies were obvious … today a firm does not even know from where the next attack on its competitive position will come, who will launch it, and in what form. The corporate world is fast becoming a global minefield.”

Such systemic constraints notwithstanding, the Indian business model does hold a pre-eminent position at the global level, thanks to the host of plus points it has. The goods and services offered by India are low-priced, cost-effective, of high value and, hence, in great demand in the Third World countries. The Indian growth story is powered by the Information Technology industry.

The book has two parts. The first consists of 16 theoretical papers, some are conceptual and the others are based on empirical research.

The theoretical papers have been grouped around the six core issues on which the “survival, excellence, and sustainability of organisations is posited in the next orbit.” The six issues are: strategy formulation for integrating organisations with the business landscape; managing performance; developing talents; entrepreneurship and innovation; change management; and leadership.

The second part presents “incisive, intense, and illuminating reflections by seven change masters” on how HR professionals should contribute to the emerging business climate and what kind of attributes they must cultivate and inculcate so that they could be effective in integrating HRM with the mainstream management in their organisations in the 21 {+s} {+t} century, i.e., “the next orbit.”

In this group of seven, four are HR professionals, two are business leaders, and one is an eminent academic —Pritam Singh of the Management Development Institute, Gurgaon.

In all, 23 persons have contributed to the book. Subir Verma's article, “Towards the Next Orbit: Wisdom for HR Professionals”, is a succinct analysis of what is in store for, and what is expected of, the HR professionals in the remaining decades of the millennium. On the whole, the book deserves to be read by every aspiring HR professional.

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