Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lessons for HR

The history of management is often traced to the techniques, theories and strategies used by Army for creating a winning force. Today’s global market place is second to no war interms of strategy, preparation and desperate remedies. Be it marketing, growth strategy, merger or acquisition every corporate action has its root in military warfare. Terms like suicide pills, hostile takeovers, and blitzkrieg are perfect indicator of this.

An interesting article by ET draws similarities between army and HR practices in corporate organizations.

There are hierarchies and functions, leaders and followers, teams, meetings and strategy sessions, very high emphasis on ‘delivering the goods’ and above all, a sense of organisational social responsibility that makes it our most reliable asset during times of crisis.

Perhaps the only differentiator between the armed forces and corporations, then, is the raison d’etre. The objective of the armed forces is task-orientation instead of profit-orientation. The attitude is to do ‘whatever-it-takes’. “The army’s rules and procedures are rigid,” admits (retd.) Maj Gen. Satur. adding, “But the rules in the corporate world are bent at the drop of a hat.”

Some lessons which HR can learn from Army are:

On Recruitment
Recruiting a candidate is extremely crucial. You have to be sure he/she can handle duress, and actually relish it to an extent.

Resource Utilization
Responsibilities shouldn’t prevent you from going out of your way to do something that needs to be done. Also, put your people in the job that best suit them. If you have an energetic young executive on your hands, give him a position that best utilises his energy. Don’t forbid mistakes, it only encourages quick-fixes and shoddy work.

Training and Development
Specialization and continuous practice is the key. People wonder what the army does during peace time. The answer is, train harder, improve learning to ensure that people and equipment don’t fail when the hour of reckoning comes.

Organisational Pride and Values
Reinforce pride in the organisation through fair and equal treatment. It is important for the administration to reach every person, instead of the other way round. Only then would he or she want to work with you.

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