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Dell Computers – Human Resource Strategy Essay

An overview of Human Resource Management Strategy

The existing business environment has increased the need for creativity and proactive behavior from the employees. The human resource department within organizations is constantly evolving new strategies to gain operational efficiency and promote a positive work culture that motivates the workforce to improve productivity and performance. The efficiency and productivity of an organization is dependent on the quality of people it employs. The strategies and practices adopted by the human resource department is responsible for identifying specific goals and targets for the departments and the workforce.

The strategies formulated by the HR department are instrumental in achieving these goals and objectives and providing the employees with a direction towards self-growth, development, and organizational growth. The paper analyses the human resource strategies adopted by Dell Computers in the current business scenario and how it has helped the organization in gaining a competitive edge in the industry. The paper highlights the various strategies that the company has incorporated in the past few years in response to operating environment triggers to retain its market share and position as a global market leader. The subsequent sections highlight the HR practices adopted by the company in context of company mission statement, organization structure, work culture, training and development, employee growth and motivation, and performance evaluation.

Dell Computers – an introduction to the organization

Dell Computers was founded in the year 1984 by Michael Dell. The company provides computing systems and solutions to customers based on their specific needs and requirements. It is the “leading technology provider to commercial enterprises around the world” (dell.com, 2009). Over years the company evolved as leading information technology innovator applying its expertise across all levels of industry and businesses. With the turn of the 21st century the company joined the e-business revolution enabling millions of business enterprises across the world to connect and collaborate on business solutions and processes.

The industry faces stiff competition from other major market players such as IBM, Compaq, HP and Apple. The changing business environment and advancing technology has triggered the need for change management and strategic planning to help the business units meet the potential challenges in the work front. Dell is a global player in the IT industry and operates in a dynamic business environment riddled with complexities that pose distinctive challenges to the human resource department. Technology has influenced and strengthened communication channels across the globe and organizations are faced with new challenges in the form of multi-cultural workforce and global teams.

Human resource management has been driven by the dynamic business environment in which it operates. Employers need to re-engineer their business strategies to meet new challenges posed by the changing business dynamics. Dell has expanded its operations to nearly 220 countries across the globe. The company’s “corporate philosophy is characterised in a winning statement called the Soul of Dell, which serves as a guide for employees” across the globe (Dell Computers, 2008). The Soul of Dell constitutes of the Dell Team, Customers, Direct Relationships, Global Citizenship and Winning (McKinnon, 2004).

The company’s mission and vision statement

The mission statement of Dell reflects its objectives and purpose that form an integral part of its decision making and strategic planning process. Dell’s mission is “to be the most successful computer company in the world delivering the best customer experience in markets we serve” (dell.com, 2009). The significance of the company’s mission and vision statement lies in its role in providing the employees with a strong sense of belief in the company they work for and the core ideals it represents. It is imperative that employees identify with the company goals and objectives and effective leadership is displayed in communicating and creating a strong belief in the company objectives among the workforce. In order to induce a strong belief in the company goals, the leaders need to believe in these objectives foremost. The management and leaders within the organization face the crucial task of developing a shared vision.

Organizational structure and work culture

Organizational structure plays a determining role in influencing the organizational culture and values, establishing communication lines and the extent of employee involvement in the decision making process. The levels of reporting and accountability framework of a company determine the corporate culture and work environment existing within the company. In current business context, entrepreneurs re-engineer business processes to accommodate a flatter organization structure that necessitates free flow of information and knowledge to the workforce.

This ensures increased participation of employees in the decision making process and encourage transparent communication process. A favorable organizational environment triggers the employees to go that extra mile and use their initiative to improve performance rather than simply achieving set targets. Dell supports a flatter organization structure that promotes participatory style of management and employee empowerment practices.

The non hierarchical organizational structure promotes responsibilities and motivates the employees to put in their best at work resulting in high performing organizations. However, such work culture demands strong commitment and high level of energy from the employees. Employee empowerment is a new approach to management that incorporates employee self development programs to enable their involvement in corporate decision making process. Employee empowerment allows individuals to get actively involved in the various stages of decision making process that includes identifying problems, analyzing alternative solutions, and recommending the most effective solution to the problem.

Performance Management System

Performance of the workforce in an organization is directly related to the success of the business venture. The contribution of the employees towards the reputation of the company, quality of products or services delivered and the market share of the business is extremely important. Performance management systems can be used to reinforce employee behavior towards specific goals and objectives identified by the company. The scope and objectives of defining a performance management system is closely linked to the needs of the business and desired outcome. A favorable organizational environment triggers the employees to go that extra mile and use their initiative to improve performance rather than simply achieving set targets.

“Managers can unlock an individual’s ability and willingness to perform at high levels in many ways – for instance, by translating long-term goals into step by step plans, clearly stating expectations and holding people accountable” (Holbeche, 2005). Many employees within the workforce want to give their best to the work they are allocated and they want to be given a chance to prove their capabilities. The employees also want their performance to assessed in a fair manner and seek adequate rewards and financial compensation in return for the extra efforts placed on the job. The organization can assist the employees in delivering quality work by providing them with adequate support, resources, and training opportunities.

Dell has made distinctive efforts in incorporating effective performance management system across all levels within the organization. The PMS developed for the company provides a comprehensive Human Resource Management strategy that can ensure high levels of motivation and focuses on employee retention plans which is critical in gaining competitive advantage in the market. The essential elements of this performance management system include personal development plans, appraisals and feedback, training and development workshops, rewards and recognition program that are discussed in the subsequent sections.

Personal Development Plans

Another program initiated within Dell Computers is the personal development plans and appraisal systems that helps in addressing the training and developmental needs of each individual. Personal development plans or PDP is a clear concise document that states the employee’s personal objectives in terms of career planning and targets for their growth and development within the organization. The PDP has emerged as a powerful tool for utilizing fully the employees’ capabilities ensuring his commitment and knowledge to maximize individual productivity that directly co-relates to increased organizational efficiency.

The concept of a personal development plan is outlining and defining clear development action plan for an individual within the context of the organization in which he works. The line manager helps the team members to assess their skills, competencies, and weaknesses. The individuals review their core areas of development and strengths that can be honed through adequate training and development workshops. The line managers help the individuals to identify their potential and scope of growth within the organization depending on which they are assigned to relevant training programs. The organization facilitates the employee to attend in-house training workshops on personal development e.g., communication skills improvement, leadership skills, team work and time management.

Performance Appraisal and Constructive Feedback

Performance appraisals are a key element of the PMS, since it provides the basis for employee development and promotion program. The appraisal process can be very effective in identifying individual targets and review performance standards. Appraisals can prove to be effective yardsticks for performance management. It not only improves the communication process between the employees and their supervisors but assists in defining specific job objectives, relating personal objectives to the company goals, identifying parameters of performance management, defining how a particular job could have been done better, improving employee performance and work relationships, and most importantly identifying the barriers to better performance, and means to dissolve these barriers.

The appraisals in Dell Computers are conducted every two months by the respective line managers on a one to one basis. The process helps the employees communicate their problems and issues faced on the work floor and enable the line managers to identify potential show stoppers. The assessment of individual performance is based on the following performance evaluation metrics –

– targets achieved
– errors reported
– level of innovativeness applied in the work process
– initiative shown on the work floor
– ability to deal with people issues
– team work displayed
– communication with peers and line managers
– interest in group activities and
– responsibility and accountability

The major goal behind these appraisals is enhancing performance and productivity. Performance appraisals should not be considered as a platform for unpleasant confrontations, fruitless paper work, and ground for disciplinary process. A healthy appraisal system is one in which both the parties look forward to a session that includes performance planning, problem identification, problem solving, and observation of facts. These sessions are based on the practice of constructive feedback to be more effective. The focus of this kind of feedback should be on the behavior and performance of the individual rather than on personality. Also read Strategic Role of Human Resource Management essay

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Moreover, constructive feedback focuses more on the positive than the negative aspect of employee performance. A crucial element followed in this kind of feedback mechanism is the policy “praise in public and reprimand in private.” This is very effective in controlling rebellious attitude and promoting good code of conduct among the employees.

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