However you define the activities of management, and whatever the organisational processes are, an essential part of the process of management is that proper attention be given to the Human Resource function. The human element provides a major part in the overall success of the organisation. Therefore there must be an effective human resource function. In the past, most organisations viewed Human Resource Management (HRM) as an element function, that is an activity that is supportive of the task functions and does not normally have any accountability for the performance of a specific end task. Because of the emphasis on analysis and precision there is a tendency for strategists to concentrate on economic data and ignore the way in which human elements and values can influence the implementation of a strategy. "Economic analysis of strategy fails to recognise the complex role which people play in the evolution of strategyÃ¢ÂÂ¦strategy is also a product of what people want an organisation to do or what they feel the organisation should be like."(1).
Understanding the strategic potential of HRM is a relatively recent phenomenon. Strategic HRM attempts to bring HRM to the boardroom. It requires personnel policies and practices to be integrated so that they make a coherent whole, and also that this whole is integrated with the business or organisational strategy.
Strategic HRM has evolved through three main stages. Up until the mid 1960's HRM comprised mainly a file maintenance stage with most emphasis on selection, recruitment, screening and orientation of the new employee. They also looked after employee-related data and organised the Christmas party.
The second stage, government accountability developed with the arrival of the Civil Rights Act and evolved with subsequent laws. To avoid costly legal battles, the HRM function gained in stature and importance.
The third stage in HRM...