Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Revised Understanding

As I contemplate the close of the semester, and consider the questions found within our syllabus, I think back to where I was in the beginning and my understanding then of what fit under the Human Resources umbrella. I recall a group activity early on where we discussed the roles found within HR and where Organizational Development fit; an alignment theory I wasn’t completely grasping for I saw it as a direct link to the organization itself with little connection to HR. I reflect now on that stance and wonder if it is a result of being viewed as such a separate department from that of HR within my own organization. We are in fact in different buildings, with different department goals and little direct connection other than the reporting structure. I often wondered why we shared different Directors but the same VP, as they all seemed to do their ‘own thing’ and we did ours.

But now, as I sit, write, and reflect I am humbled by the wholeness of my revised understanding provided by the journey through this class. I think back to the discussions surrounding Scientific Management and Taylorism, the Theories of X and Y with thanks to McGregor, and even the realization that Leonard Nadler from George Washington University may have been a significant influence regarding the popularity of just using the term Human Resource Development-but not until 1969. (Swanson, et. al., 2009)

And while the history of it all is much broader in facts on a time line and key players that deserve a nod, I must admit that this was the point that I was the least engaged. History has never been a strong suit for me, nor a true interest unless the connection is made upfront as to why I should deem it important. But I smile to myself now as I realize that the impact that the manufacturing industry had on what I even do today is more than likely still at play. I marvel at just how young our industry really is in defining what it can do and/or bring to an organization. And with that I wonder what that could mean for the future of HRD as it continues to evolve and prove its relevance at the strategic table of the executives in our industries.

I think about the executive table at my own organization and consider the interview that I was honored to conduct of my VP of Human Resources. I remember the conversation fondly and how I actually found myself counting the word ‘relevance’ as I compiled the results to write my paper. Perhaps this was the most impactful moment for me, as I saw, in the rawest form, how almost all of what we had discussed thus far came crashing into the reality of what I knew in my own world. Perhaps this is the reason that I felt in that moment I may have done my best work of the semester as things suddenly began to make a lot more sense, and I suddenly felt like I saw things with a much clearer lens. With this lens things within my own organization were not only clearer, but also the topics that we were discussing in class. And while I would be remiss not to admit that it may have had something to do with the topics beginning to move away from a more historical focus, I would also not be truthful if I didn’t admit that what we’d absorbed up to that point began to make a lot more sense.

So as I pull together the final thoughts of my reflection, I consider that moment with my laptop as I typed out my paper for the HRD interview with the VP of HR. I think back to this moment; not because the other moments were not impactful, not because my group project wasn’t fun and engaging, not because the Theories of X and Y did not provide me with a differing view of why some members of management may choose to motivate the way that they do. I choose this moment in the semester because it was my best work. It was my best because it was the moment for me that things took on a greater amount of clarity and truly provided a picture for what the concepts looked like in real life. Not real life in someone else’s world, but real life in my own day-to-day.

I was able to apply the concepts to my own voice as I wrote, instead of attempting to relate what I’d been reading with something that might fit. It was my best because in that moment I realized that I also needed to find the strength to begin to ask more questions when things do not seem as clear. As I typed through my reflections I realized that in order to be successful I must always strive to understand with as much truth as possible what is going on in the environment around me, strategically and otherwise, in order to truly understand how I can best support my organization through my own work. For it is then that you will find meaning in what you do, and as result, your best work is always sure to follow.

But I also wonder as I close, if this is something that I should also strive to empower others to do as well as an HRD professional. When we look upon things that have such an impact on our own lives with such a clouded lens, we tend to take away too foggy of a view of reality. But when we find the strength (and the proper framework) to ask the right questions, it is then that we become our most confident selves-especially at work.

“Understanding how individuals around the world construct the meaning of their work is of central importance for HRD professionals. The relationship between meaningful work and organizational productivity was first demonstrated by the Hawthorne experiments in the 1920s (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 1939). This theme can be further traced through the emergence of the sociotechnical systems design in the early 1950s (Trist, 1960), Herzberg’s (1966) early research on motivation to work, and the human potential movement of the 1980s (Kirschenbaum and Henderson, 1989).” (Swanson, et. al., 2009, p. 425-426)