Public Sector Human Resource Management

If an organization can be defined as a group of people working toward a goal, and management can be defined as the process of accomplishing these goals through other people, then the subject of this course is the development of policies for effective use of human resources in an organization. Stated differently, all decisions affecting the relationship between the individual and the organization can be seen as dimensions of HR management. Psychological and productivity goals are pivotal to this relationship.

That is, the work performed must be meaningful to employees as well as to the institution. Not surprisingly, these two goals are interactive, reciprocal—and sometimes contradictory. Human resource management, in short, is a titanic force that shapes the conditions in which people find themselves. Its daily practice is an area that administrators are responsible for and can have a genuine impact on.

Human resource management matters. Indeed, the most important job of an administrator is to help the organization use its most valuable asset—people—productively. From deciding how individuals will be recruited to how they are then compensated, trained, and evaluated, human resource administration has a significant, even definitive, effect on the careers of all employees and employers.

Legislative officials and chief executives may have authority to design new programs and approve budgets, but it is managers who hire, place, pay, develop, and appraise subordinates. They spend more time on managing people than on anything else. Nothing is of more consequence; nothing is more difficult. And it is not going to get easier. Not only have personnel specialists in many jurisdictions been “downsized,” but also organizations are experimenting with entirely new approaches to human resource management, including far-reaching civil service reform.

Managers are being required to do more with less, despite the fact that human resource issues are becoming more numerous and increasingly complicated. Clearly, a supervisor who regards personnel concerns as a nuisance to be endured will be overwhelmed by additional responsibilities and the need to deal with them. As one wise official stated, “Put human resource management first because it is the most important.”

The unimpeachable fact is that a leader who does not take care of his or her people will have no one to lead. Fail to honor people, and they will fail to honor you. The tragedy: Few are trained to manage employees.