Integration of HRM Knowledge into My HR Career
I have been undertaking a graduate degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) at Marygrove College. While the study journey has been very engaging, it has influenced my career convictions as human resources professional and invigorated continuous learning as well. Besides, the knowledge gathered regarding human resource management is likely to change my professional practice. It has influenced my perceptions of leadership, strategy, budgeting, recruitment, employee development, ethical practice and many other practice-related aspects. Organizations in the 21st century are uniquely challenged by increased diversity in the labor market, increased mobility of labor across the globe, unique employee habits and demands such as work-life balance, autonomy and engagement (Bailey, et al. 3). I feel that the master’s in business administration (MBA) degree in human resources management would help me become a better practitioner in modern organizations and help them address these contemporary labor-market and employee-related challenges. A comprehensive self-reflection regarding the lessons learned during my studies and how they have changed me personally and professionally is undertaken. Also, a comparison between theory and practice in my current situation alongside how I would help improve the role of human resources in my company are considered.
Lessons learned about learning
Undertaking a graduate program is very engaging because it demands personal time, commitment, and focus. The MBA study program comprised of lectures, group and individual assignments and projects, and workplace applications, which combined the classroom experience with practical learning experiences. Therefore, navigation through the MBA program successfully required a total commitment to continuous learning. Notably, some of the knowledge acquired from practice is affirmed while other information is contradicted by the new information from the graduate course. Therefore, the MBA course provided a platform on which my existing knowledge about human resources (HR) was placed against emerging and new knowledge in the human resource management scholarship and field. As such, the unlearning and learning process co-occur as erroneous perspectives about human resources are replaced with contemporary, pragmatic, and progressive viewpoints.
I was encouraged to seek knowledge continuously in the lifelong learning path to not only remain relevant in the industry but also become personally fulfilled. Lifelong learning is motivated in the study course through increased autonomy in the learning process. Indeed, much of the learning activities and pace are self-directed because they accommodate diverse learning styles that are suitable for different individuals. In my case, for instance, the course was tailored to my learning style because I am a very visual and audio person rather than a reading-person. As such, the presentations, videos and lecture recordings availed by the study program suited by learning style. From this perspective, I identified by learning style and how to take advantage of it to learn as much as possible. I was also able to set goals of undertaking this graduate course as a component of my continuous learning. My realization that the workplace environment was changing rapidly and therefore required frequent upgrading of skills in the management of human resources was a motivation towards undertaking the graduate program. Moreover, I realized that criticism provided insights about my deficiencies and therefore was my inspiration towards continuous improvement. My negative perceptions towards being criticized gradually changed into a welcoming attitude because I realized that self-reflection without external feedback was insufficient in spurring continuous improvement.
I improved my decision-making skills from the scenario-based learning used extensively in the graduate course. While this helped in the application of theoretical principles in practical situations at the workplace and industry, it also informed me about the areas I needed to focus on during my professional development journey. The focus of this approach is problem-solving and capstone projects, which deliver the learning model. This has made me realize that problems are a valuable source of learning opportunities throughout one’s life. As such, I was able to identify and understand my skill deficiencies and knowledge gaps. Besides, scenario-planning is a valuable skill in decision-making because it unearths the possible events and associated uncertainties that would be encountered in an actual situation. This approach developed my decision-making process when addressing personal and professional issues, thus helping me arrive at pragmatic solutions in the end.
I also learned that knowledge is a shared commodity that requires one to forge networks of people with common interests. In the information age, knowledge is no longer monopolized by individual entities but rather shares within communities. Advancements in information technology have facilitated the sharing of existing and new knowledge. Apart from accessing the latest research findings online, social media platforms facilitate the sharing of information among like-minded individuals (Hollenbeck and Jamieson 371). I learned to leverage technology as a learning tool that is convenient yet effective. For instance, technology not only helped me submit my assignments to and access lectures from my professors, but it also enabled access to digital libraries alongside discussion forums related to human resources management. I realized that information and communication technology was essential for learning in the 21st century, which was clouded with busy lifestyles, diverse and changing interests and preferences, and rapidly changing circumstances in the learning environment and workplaces.
Altogether, I found the MBA program to be a motivator for lifelong learning because it helped me identify my learning interests and learning style alongside the importance of engagement, groups of like-minded learners, and technology in continuous learning. It also exposed me to the various strategies and tools of learning, which I would use along my lifelong learning journey. Indeed, the ability to pace my learning and choose my interest areas made me realize the importance of learning for its own sake rather than for accreditation’s sake. This helped fortify my commitment to continuous improvement as an individual, which is important for my personal and professional growth and satisfaction (Sareen 1229).
Lessons learned about professional practice
The MBA program unearthed many professional practice aspects related to human resources management. Indeed, professional knowledge makes sense only when it can be applied in practice. The link between theory and practice is pertinent in professional studies because the knowledge that is gathered during a professional course should be applicable in industry. Therefore, the learned knowledge should address the issues faced in professional practice and help an individual become an improved practitioner. In this regard, the graduate course has increased my awareness about the human resources issues afflicting contemporary organidations and provides frameworks on how they should be addressed. As such, the course emphasizes professional principles related to leadership, ethics, diversity, and inclusivity (Bailey, et al. 22). Modern workplaces are complex environments that are facing unique challenges presented by the globalization of labor, proliferation of information and communication technologies and the peculiar demands from the modern employee (Jackson, Schuler and Jiang 4).
Notably, the modern employee in the labor market is highly mobile across national, regional and cultural borders. Also, the employee is an owner of vital organizational knowledge that cannot often be claimed by firms (Wright, Coff and Moliterno 355). Besides, while different professional cultures have intermingled at the workplace, cultural awareness of the differences continues to challenge leadership in organizations. Moreover, the millennials comprise a significant percentage of the labor force today. They have unique demands and preferences at the workplace, such as professional autonomy, a work-life balance, preference for multitasking, mobile workstations and other characteristics that are new in the labor market and organizations. As a human resource practitioner, I have been made aware of these unique characteristics of the contemporary labor force and equipped with knowledge and strategies of addressing these issues in a contemporary organization.
Human resources managers are leaders in their organizations who have the entire workforce as their followership. I have learned that HR leadership is vital is constructing the organizational culture and articulating the corporate values at the workplace. Indeed, I have discovered that the organizational loyalty exhibited by employees is dependent on the leadership displayed by the human resources managers in an organization. Therefore, managers must employ leadership skills that encourage participation, feedback, innovation, engagement, mentoring, and coaching. These skills not only help develop the human capacity at the workplace but also align it to the mission, vision and values of the organization. Moreover, these skills engender loyalty from employees and thus reduce employee turnover rates, which are expensive to organizations (Sikora and Ferris 271).
Lessons learned about human resources management
The graduate program helped me realize the tremendous changes that had occurred in the human resources management discipline. Notably, human resources management had transformed immensely from focusing of personnel management to emphasizing the strategic approach towards the management of human capital as the most valuable resource in an organization (Jackson, Schuler and Jiang 2). As such, the management of human resources was now being perceived as part of the strategic management of an organization because it elevated human capital issues to the senior management level. This means that contemporary organizations would not succeed without due consideration of their human capital at the highest management levels.
Human resource management leadership was a vital component of the overall leadership strategy in modern organizations. New concepts of leadership have emerged as the followership and organizations continue to change over time. Notably, transactional leadership was no longer sufficient or effective in deriving the best performance from employees. In other words, employees were no longer only interested in earning benefits in exchange for their services at the workplace. Instead, the contemporary employee perceived the workplace as a life experience from where life could be lived. Therefore, employees have placed unique demands on organizations in modern society, as much as society has placed unique demands on organizations. Specifically, employees expect the workplace to meet their professional and personal need because they spend a significant amount of time working. Employees also expect the workplaces to respect their own lives and therefore provide sufficient opportunities to enjoy being outside the workplace. That is why huge salaries are not the only attractions for competent, loyal and productive employees. Instead, a flexible workplace that allows employee autonomy, while providing a healthy work-life balance, ranks high in contemporary employees’ minds. Therefore, autocratic leadership no longer works in modern organizations.
I learned that many human resource management practitioners recommended transformational leadership because it accommodated the contemporary employee. Indeed, many employees expected to grow professionally and personally in their workplaces. Likewise, line managers implemented HR policies and the lowest level (Sikora and Ferris 272). Besides, employees who had risen organizational ranks tended to be more productive and loyal, and therefore more valuable to the organization. Consequently, it was to the organization’s best interest to retain talented employees, which could be achieved by facilitating their growth during their stay in the organization. This called for the application of transformational leadership, in which coaching, mentoring and motivation was availed to employees and line managers to endear their organizational commitment and performance (Wright, Coff and Moliterno 356).
I also learned that situational leadership was vital for the management of human resources during unpredictable and turbulent times. Organizations tended to reduce their employees and constrict their working conditions during difficult economic times. Unfortunately, talented employees would be lost, making the firms unable to weather the storms and plunging them deeper into poor performance. However, a human resource manager could use employees to help the firm overcome troubled times. Notably, embracing the multiple talents of employees during recruitment creates a valuable employee team that can be called upon during turbulent times. In this respect, the human resource manager should build a resourceful and resilient workforce in an organization, that would help the firm navigate through troubled times. Moreover, the HR manager should be resourceful and skilled sufficiently to identify and apply the best leadership style for the different situations encountered by the firm.
I learned that the cultures in many organizations were not accommodative of the new-age employees. Existing cultures viewed employees as workers and not partners. Moreover, multicultural workforces complicated the development of a uniform organizational culture if universal standards that are acceptable across the board did not anchor the organization (Jackson, Schuler and Jiang 16). Therefore, many organizations did not accommodate and facilitate employee autonomy, creativity and innovativeness, nor did they accurately determine what mattered most to their employees. Besides, organizational politics and regulatory requirements often hindered progressive human resource practices in forms (Sikora and Ferris 274). As such, organizations missed numerous opportunities when they stifled the input and constricted the comfort of employees, which makes them lose competitive advantage to those that value human capital as a source of competitive advantage (Noe et al. 31).
Therefore, to meet these new workplace circumstances, I learned that organizational change was inevitable in many organizations. Human resource managers were expected to spearhead organizational change because they were members of the senior management in firms. These managers were expected facilitate the making of workplaces into inclusive, tolerant, nurturing, livable and performance-oriented environments while making their organizations resilient to industry headwinds. Moreover, with ethical practice attracting the attention of the public alongside that of policymakers and professional practitioners alike, human resources managers were demanded to be ethical leaders and leaders of ethical practices in their organizations. I learned that human resources management was vital in advancing ethical practice and modeling organizational behavior and climate in firms (Jackson, Schuler and Jiang 22). It not only participates in the formulation of workplace policies related to ethical conduct but also is responsible for enforcing this policy at the workplace. As part of the senior management in an organization, human resources managers are expected to set the tone for ethical conduct in their organization.
Summary of personal and professional growth
Altogether, I learned the importance of human resource management in modern organizations, and the higher demands placed HR manager as a senior manager. I also discovered that the most challenging task for the HR management was to obtain a close fit between human capital and organizational goals and include human resources into the strategy of firms. To this end, I realized that continuous personal and professional growth was inevitable in the career journey of an HR professional. As such, being a lifelong learner would ensure that my personal and professional skills are continuously updated to meet the ever-changing circumstances in workplaces.
Human resources management is an engaging profession that requires the understanding of the human mind because it is centered on dealing with a multitude of humans at the workplace. As such, psychological studies should be given prominence in the program. More importantly, the development of the emotional and cultural maturity of the HR professional is pertinent in a contemporary, multicultural workplace. Indeed, a human resources manager should be emotionally intelligent enough to deal with the diverse personalities of employees at the workplace. Therefore, equipping MBA students with psychology knowledge that would improve their emotional intelligence is pertinent in making the program more pragmatic. In addition, while capstone projects and case studies provide virtual scenarios of issues afflicting human resource management in organizations, they lack the immersion of lived experiences. The MBA program would be more pragmatic if it allowed students to experience real-life situations in existing workplaces. In this regard, the program did not expose students to real-life situations sufficiently.
The human resources management course could be improved through shadowing, which involves the attachment of students to human resource departments of organizations for a limited period during their studies. Students should be provided with opportunities to observe senior HR professionals at work. To this end, the university should forge partnerships with organizations that are willing to use their workplaces as incubation centers for the development of competent human resource management practitioners.
Also, to further my growth in HRM, exposure to different cultures is pertinent, considering that workplaces are now increasingly multicultural. Such exposure would help me formulate policies that would make workplaces conducive to people from diverse cultures while making it attractive to talented individuals. This would ensure that workplaces attract, nurture and retain their valuable workforce while making the firms resilient to the headwinds that occasionally emerge in various industries.
The MBA experience at Marygrove College was invaluable because it enabled me to grow professionally and personally. As a professional HR practitioner, the MBA prepared me for the managerial positions in human resource management. This means that the course instilled leadership and strategy skills in addition to advancing my technical skills. This means that in addition to working in a human resource department, I was prepared to work alongside senior managers in the leadership position in organizations. Therefore, my perceptions about the management of human capital were broadened while the pertinence of human resources in organizational strategy was revealed. The leadership role that human resource management plays in an organization was revealed more succinctly, considering that human capital is one of the more valuable resources in firms. The role of the human resource manager in establishing an organizational culture, in driving organizational change and in setting the tone for ethical practice in firms, was clarified. Moreover, the application of different leadership approaches to meet different needs of the workforce and the organization was revealed. I learned that transformational and situational leadership styles were pertinent to contemporary HR management.
To serve as a proficient HRM practitioner called for continuous learning and improvement of skills. The MBA program honed my adult-learning skills and inspired me to be a lifelong learner for the sake of personal and professional development. Positive use of criticism was a valuable source of feedback and a mirror of my deficiencies and gaps. As such, I found that criticism could direct my learning endeavors and goals.
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