Assignment | Selection Methods and Minority Representation in CERA

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Topic 3 short answer assessment task: Selection methods and minorityrepresentation in CERAImagine that CERA wants to increase the representation of Aboriginal people in itsworkforce. Using one job category in CERA as an example, discuss the merits of twoselection methods that you believe, based on research evidence, may be problematic ifCERA is to achieve its goal.Topic 4 - short answer assessment - CERA's bonus schemeMark French asked his people to come up with some options to improve the design ofthe bonus scheme in CERA. You have seen the problems; now for some options toimprove the design.Suggest changes that could be made to fix the problems with CERA's bonus scheme.Use relevant lierature to support your argument. State the problem that you’readdressing first, followed by the proposed solutions. Justify your suggestions andinclude citations and a reference list for sources used. Should the bonus scheme bescrapped altogether? Why, or why not?Topic 3:Diversity,Recruitment and Selection
CERA has managed to attract some very good people to its workforce, but Israel and otherswant to make recruitment and selection practice much better aligned with the goals of thebusiness. Part of this task is working through how to use the range of techniques and toolsavailable, and to integrate these two areas of HR practice with diversity management. Easiersaid than done? Perhaps. After studying the concepts introduced in this topic, you will be askedto make some recommendations on improving CERA's recruitment and selection practices.Diversity,Recruitment and Selection“It was ok that we’d started to make progress on connecting job design toCERA’s goal to be an innovative organisation, as well as being known for itscommitment to high-contact service. The project with Rachel Amaro was at leastpartially successful because we were able to identify some good reasons whyjob design could be leveraged better, and we worked out specific features of jobdesign that would promote innovative behaviour. I think Rachel was starting tomellow a bit, and even to take HR more seriously.We’d also started to think more systemically, I think, as a senior managementteam – that HR was not disconnected from the rest of the business, but it was akey piece in achieving the strategy. This was on the right track for sure. Butsomething wasn’t right. I kept feeling like there was something we were missing.Like most HR teams, my small team and I catch up weekly to talk over howvarious projects are going, and how the culture of CERA is developing. This isalso a chance for me to feedback to the team on our senior management teammeetings, and for my team to feedforward things that are on their minds.One of the projects that we have been working on is to review therecruitmentand selectionpractices used in CERA. Since I joined the organisation I felt thatwe were just doing what everyone else was doing in this area and not reallygetting the most from these two HR practices. (Maybe you can relate to this.)True, no one was screaming out for change, but I’d heard a few rumblings fromstaff about poor cultural fit and misdirected selections to know that all wasn’tperfect in the garden. Mind you, these kinds of complaints are not at all unusualin organisations; in fact, they’re probably commonplace. It’s just that they broughtto my attention the importance of getting the most from our investment in HRpractices, specificallyrecruitment and selectionpractices, if we wanted to keepachieving our stated point of difference in terms of service quality and beinginnovative.In places I’d worked at before, we’d talked about the value add of HR practicesto the goals of the organisation, whether it was training or recruitment, orwhatever; but nothing much was ever done. We all knew that there were many
options in recruitment and in selection, but, remarkably, we ended up using thesame methods as always, and as everyone else in our industry used. Perhapswe might have tinkered with behavioural interviews, but that was pretty muchabout it – application, interview, second interview, reference check, offer. Whambam, etc.To be honest, and without being overly critical of my peers, I wondered whetherour success in attracting and keeping good people at CERA was more a matterof good luck than good management. (I daresay there would be manyorganisations where managers might feel the same way.) After all, the transitionmatrices for the Engineering and Planning divisions didn’t look too bad in regardto retention, so why was I uncomfortable?I think it was Susumu Takada, our Manager, Finance, Legal and Administration,who led me to take all of this more seriously. Susumu is a quietly-spoken guy;considered, not in a rush to make judgments, and a smart operator. Even thoughhe doesn’t seem to be all that knowledgeable about HR, what has struck memost about him is that he takes time to think through efficient and effectivesolutions to things, not just the obvious, or the path that most people would take.Take the time when we were looking at our strategy for the next five years. I’mpretty certain it was Susumu who raised the possibility of extending our footprintinto regional NSW, because there were strong signs of strengthening demand forinfrastructure which could be sustainable. At first, the others were sceptical.Plans for infrastructure investment in regional Australia had come and gone overthe years: the rhetoric often outweighed the reality. Sure, in places likeQueensland and Western Australia, the mining boom had stimulated pretty rapidinfrastructure development, but that wasn’t typical and it was waning in recentyears. Anyhow, Susumu was quietly confident and he seemed to know what hewas talking about.I’d invited him to attend one of my weekly HR team meetings. We were talkingover the project on reviewing our processes inrecruitment and selection. Sippinghis tea Susumu listened intently, head slightly turned, as Miriam and I spokeabout the need to avoid a cookie-cutter approach that squeezed every candidateinto the same mould. Yes, it’s true, I said, we want person-organisation fit, butwe know that there’s a wealth of talent out there and it comes in differentpackages so to speak. So, there is a risk that using a fairly standard set ofinstruments in predictable ways has a decent probability of filtering out otherwisequalified, suitable people. We need to be smarter about reaching a wide pool ofsuitable people and then in how we select the right people.”
“You mean there isn’t enough of a focus ondiversitymanagement?”,Susumu reflected.We both looked at him, silent for several seconds before I intervened. “No, Idon’t see it as adiversityissue; it’s more just about better or smarter practice inrecruitment and selection. I mean, we have a fairly diverse group, given oursize and the type of business we run. We select on merit, so we get the bestpossible candidate, no matter who they are. I’m talking about usingrecruitmentand selectionpractice smarter to support CERA’s goals. I’m not sure it’s thesame thing as what you’re talking about, Susumu.”“Yes, I see”, he replied. “I'm no expert in these things, but what I’mhearing you say is that you need to haverecruitment and selectionprocesses that are more sensitive to individual differences, rather thanprocesses that reinforce homogeneity, right.”“Well... er..” (I wasn’t sure).It was Miriam who now joined in. “You know, I hadn’t thought of it thatway. I think you’re both kind of on the same or similar wavelength. Wewant ourrecruitment and selectionprocesses to embracediversity, andwe want ourrecruitment and selectionprocesses to best support ourgoals – or, to give us the best available candidates for our businessgoals. By the way, Israel, I’d say best available candidate, not bestpossible candidate. What if the best possible candidate is otherwiseoccupied or quite happy where she is, or doesn’t know about us?”“When I worked at Hetherington’s [a shipping agency] we regardeddiversityas being about employing people of different races, gender,disability, and eliminating discrimination. It wasn’t till later, maybe afterattending a conference ondiversityand inclusion put on by theAustralian Human Rresources Institute (you know, AHRI), that Iunderstood thatdiversitywas much broader and it was different to equalemployment opportunity.”
“I think what you’ve both been talking about is tied up, or should be tiedup, with how you’re seeingdiversitymanagement as part of your HRtoolkit,” Susumu replied as he pushed his chair back. “Anyway, I have togo to a meeting, but think about this. It may be a useful principle to applyin your review ofrecruitment and selectionpractices.”“I felt that Susumu was on to something, but how to connectdiversitymanagement andrecruitment and selectionpractice? Surely,diversitywas one thing andrecruitment and selectionwas much broader? Or,wasdiversitya cultural element andrecruitment and selectionone of thetools to foster it? I needed to think about this and maybe do somereading and talking with others. Besides, I still hadn’t really thoughtthrough how to take a more tactical approach to ourrecruitment andselectionso that we could attract wide pools of suitable applicants....”DiversitymanagementIsrael and Susumu have raised two issues here that are important in HR practice. First,what isdiversityanddiversitymanagement, and how doesdiversitymanagement relatetorecruitment and selection? Second, how shouldrecruitment and selectionpractice beconstructed toattractwide pools of suitable applicants and toselectthe right people tosupport organisational goals? These two questions form the two parts of this topic.Learning activity 1To begin, consider your own point of view on whetherdiversity, say, genderdiversityinleadership roles, can make a difference to the performance of an organisation? This is adebatable proposition in practice, to be sure.Now, take a look at the evidence presented here by James Heskett of the HarvardBusiness School.Blog postingHeskett, J. (2015, November 4), Why does genderdiversityimprove financialperformance? Working knowledge: The thinking that leads,visit siteNotice the responses of readers of Heskett’s discussion. As you can see, there isdebate around the merits of genderdiversityin leadership roles. Nonetheless, there is
mounting evidence on the impact ofdiversityon performance. McKinsey&Companyhave someuseful resourcesin this area that are well work exploring.Chapter 9 of Kramar et al. (2014) provides a discussion of the conceptual foundations ofdiversityanddiversitymanagement.Diversitymanagement (or managingdiversity) is “aprocess of managing people’s similarities and differences; it is built on a set of valuesthat recognises that the differences between people are a potential strength for theorganisation; this process of management creates an environment that allows allemployees to contribute to organisational goals and experience personal growth”(Kramar et al., 2014, p. 286). Notice that organisational goals are a predominant driverofdiversitymanagement. This is explained in the model ofdiversitymanagement,summarised in the figure below (Figure 9.1 in Kramar et al.).Source: (Kramar et al., 2014, p. 288)Learning activity 2Evaluate the thinking behind this diagram (and the related explanation in Kramar et al. (2014).Does it make sense to you? Do you accept it? What counter arguments would you mount? Thislearning activity will help you to prepare for the short answer assessment task, below.
Some people seediversitymanagement in relatively narrow terms as complying withlegislation, centring on promoting equal employment opportunity (EEO) and removingdiscrimination from the workplace. “This approach todiversitymanagement identifiesgroups with particular personal characteristics, such as gender or ethnicity, and focuseson issues that arise from discrimination based on these personal characteristics.Policies are then developed to provide for equal treatment of members of differentgroups by making concessions so that employees with certain personal characteristicsor domestic arrangements can assimilate into the prevailing employment patterns(Kramar et al., 2014, p. 290). This is a compliance-oriented, reactive approach. This isessential, but perhaps not sufficient.As Kramar et al. (2014, p. 287) point out, managingdiversitycan be seen as a morewide-ranging process of cultural change, with appropriate supporting policies andpractices, that recognises that the differences between people are a source of strengthand competitive advantage for the organisation in product, service and labour markets.This takes us to the business reasons fordiversitymanagement, which you will seediscussed in Chapter 9 and also in the material from McKinsey&Company noted andlinked above. It is important to evaluate the business arguments fordiversitymanagement right up front. Five arguments have been made for the introduction of adiversitymanagement approach:There is a ‘business case’ associated with competing effectively in the labour market;It provides a source of competitive advantage;The process provides a means of effectively adapting to change;There are ideological grounds for its introduction;It will be a source of innovation.Learning activity 3Do we need a business case argument fordiversitymanagement in the 21st century? Is it time tosimply accept thatdiversitymanagement has a self-evident 'good'?This 20-minute video (produced in 2006) signals the business case argument from a productmarket perspective.WatchMulticulturalism: How retailers reposition themselves to address ethnicdiversity,produced by Steve Clements, fl. 2001(Sunrise, FL: D.E. Visuals, 2007), 20 minsavailable through the CSU VAST video library collectionaccess online
As you can see in Chapter 9 of Kramar et al. (2014), action to embed a broad-baseddiversitymanagement approach involves multiple levels – strategic, managerial andoperational. At the most fundamental level, we’re talking about cultural transformation,which is then brought to bear in a practical way through managerial and operationalactions involving several areas of HR practice, such asrecruitment and selection,training and development, and performance management.Although the arguments fordiversitymanagement grounded in business rationales maybe plausible, appealing to certain dominant stakeholders in organisations, points ofcontention have been raised in the literature that we should pay attention to; not least,that the claimed benefits may not be realised or are more complex to achieve than firstthought. As you saw earlier in the reactions to the discussion item by James Heskett,there may also be certain co-conditions required. Furthermore, if the business rationalefordiversitymanagement does not gain traction among senior management, there is arisk that the wholediversityproject fails. The following articles by Agrawal (2012) and byD’Netto, Shen, Chelliah and Monga (2014) will give you a flavour for some of thepointsof contentionsurrounding the operationalisation ofdiversitymanagement. Both articlesare reasonably easy to read and they will add depth to your understanding of thiscomplex area.Agrawal’s (2012) particular interest is in the extent to which diversified teams make adifference to organisational performance. It is set in the Indian context and anchored inthe business case discourse ondiversitymanagement. I selected this article because itprovides a pragmatic, accessible review of the literature ondiversitymanagement inorganisations and the evidence of impact using a SWOT framework. Following adetailed review of the literature, Agrawal reports on empirical work that he undertook toevaluate the application ofdiversitymanagement in teams in Indian manufacturing andservice organisations. Although it is contextualised in the Indian experience, we canapply our own judgment and critical thought to translating his insights into our ownrealities.ReadAgrawal, V. (2012). Managing the diversified team: challenges and strategies forimproving performance.Team Performance Management: An InternationalJournal,18(7/8), 384-400access onlineReadD'Netto, B., Shen, J., Chellah, J., & Monga, M. (2014). Human resourcediversitymanagement prctices in the Australian manufacturing sector.International Journal of Human Resource Management,25(9) 1243-1266.doi: 10.1080/09585192.2013.826714access online
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