The difference between leadership (line authority) and manatgement (staff authority) lies in the sphere of control over different processes that happen in every organization. Line authority basically refers to the authority executed by those managers that are directly responsible for the operational results of the company, and, having this capacity, coordinate the work of organization at large at different levels. Staff authority is associated with advising or consulting positions, managers that help line managers, but do not have direct authority over the subordinates of line managers. While it is apparent that human resource managers have staff authority, in some situations they may partially execute line authority, and their decisions may be superior to those made by the line managers. In the process of staff authority execution, such advisors intervene into process to conduct their professional duties.
Probably the best-known intervention is the teambuilding process. A series of experiential learnings assists in facilitating this process. “The process is based on the premise that all individuals are different and that each brings a unique set of skills into a job.” (Goleman 1996) It is because of these differences that problems may occur. These differences can also provide the cornerstones of success. Teambuilding focuses on building positively on individual differences. No one can expect everyone in an organization to like one another. That is not the goal of teambuilding. Its goal, rather, is to leave personality differences behind, focus on the task, and work together to achieve a mutually accepted goal.
This takes time, patience, and a strong leader at the executive level who is not going to accept anything less.
Staff managers, as a part of their duties, are responsible for employee relations in the company. Employee relations activities in an organization are varied. Some are oriented toward ensuring that open communications take place while others are aimed at developing and implementing corporate policies. Employee relations is also very active in ensuring that complaint procedures exist for employees in unionized organizations, called the grievance procedure. “It is important to make a distinction between labor relations and employee relations.” (Hosie et al 2006) Often, companies have one or the other, but not both. On the surface, both conduct many of the same activities, i.e., counseling employees on performance problems, facilitating the grievance procedure, and maintaining corporate policies.
The biggest difference lies in the area of flexibility. Employee relations departments face fewer constraints than labor relations departments, which must deal with representing a union. The degree of these constraints is contingent on the terms and conditions of the agreed-upon contract. It has been said that employee relations is what you do when no union is present--fail at employee relations and you will have labor relations.
Organization communications is a catch-all phrase used to describe many activities in the organization, which are also supervised by staff managers, namely, HR professionals. It encompasses how workers are being treated by management; how information is being disseminated to employees and how workers perceive the culture, working conditions, and complaint/grievance procedures.
This multi-faceted approach rests on the idea that people can talk to one another. (Hosie et al 2006) Differences may arise, but a mechanism should be in place to mediate them before they become major disasters.
Organization communications is also built on the belief that workers should have some say in respect to the quality of work life. Employees are probably the best source of information regarding happenings and operations in an organization. Accordingly, they need to be polled periodically, randomly perhaps, to obtain a perspective on how the work force is doing. This quick assessment also gives workers the opportunity to vent any problems they are experiencing. This venting provides an avenue for investigating problems in their early stages so they can be rectified with a minimal amount of disruption.
Organization communications also advocates a means for employees to make suggestions to make operations more effective. The idea behind company suggestion programs, quality circles, et cetera, is to give the worker the opportunity to make recommendations to correct inefficiencies. In addition, this process provides an opportunity to recognize employees' contributions. This results in employees' becoming more aware of their surroundings. Some companies provide incentives, such as monetary awards. These are usually based on some percentage of the first year's savings. While there are too many facets of corporate communications to identify all of them here, those that have been considered provide a good basis for developing effective communications.
The field of human resource management has changed due to globalization and other external factors from a function that handled vacation schedules and company outings to one that has a fully integrated perspective. The roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities of the human resource function have gained vital importance. Whatever the perspective of human resources, however, fundamental activities are conducted. The complexities of today's human resource function cannot be handled effectively by one HR specialist in any large organization. In some cases, it would require an entire division of HR managers, at the least.
However, those central issues that comprise any human resource function can be addressed by several specialists. The three basic challenges that HR managers must address are: understanding training and development needs of the organization and providing courses and programs that make company’s employees more efficient in performing their daily duties, making sure that similar position levels are assigned similar salaries and implementing efficient communication flow within an organization. Of those three challenges, provision of adequate training and development support to the changing organization seems to be the most difficult one.
Probably the greatest evolution in human resource management has occurred in the training and development function. What was once the department that trained clerks and first-line supervisors, and coordinated college courses and external seminars for their employees to take, has evolved into a vital component of the organization.
This change has also been reflected in its name. The training and development department is now referred to as the human resources development department. (Goleman 1996) In fact, the importance of human resources development has changed so drastically in the 1980s that some propose that shortly the personnel function will report to it, rather than the other way around (Goleman 1996).
A review of training programs used by organizations shows they vary from simple orientation and those that are legally required, to elaborate configurations that resemble college settings. The hoped-for end result of instituting most training programs is higher output of the final product. In addition to increased output, increased employee motivation and job skills, reduced turnover and grievance rates, and changes In job-related behavior may also result from training (Goleman 1996).
In whatever form, training has become important as an organizational activity over the past decades. There are various reasons offered for the heightened interest in training activity. First, rapidly changing demands for output and the complexity of modern organizations require increased attention be offered to upgrading human resources. Second, advances in technology have brought with them new work requirements, and employees must acquire sophisticated skills to operate new and complex equipment efficiently. Third, companies are increasingly aware of the Importance of providing career-path opportunities for employees. (Goleman 1996)