Development of human resources is essential for any organisation that would like to be dynamic and growth-oriented. Unlike other resources, human resources have rather unlimited potential capabilities. The potential can be used only by creating a climate that can continuously identify, bring to surface, nurture and use the capabilities of people. Human Resource Development (HRD) system aims at creating such a climate. A number of HRD techniques have been developed in recent years to perform the above task based on certain principles.


Increasingly, more importance is being given to “people” in organisations. This is mainly because organisations are realising that human assets are the most important of all assets. This emphasis can also be partly attributed to the new emerging values of humanism and humanisation. Moreover, with the increased emphasis on creativity, and autonomy, which people are increasingly acquiring and enjoying in the society, the expectations of people are fast changing. People cannot be taken for granted any more. 

In the past, people working in organisations were given attention merely in administering the necessary conditions of work. The traditional concept of personnel management was based on a very narrow view of human motivation. The basic assumption underlying that view was that human beings are primarily motivated by comforts and salary, and necessary attention may be given to rationalise these, so that people do not get dissatisfied. Most of the attention, therefore, was on administration of salary and other benefits. It is now being increasingly realised that people working in organisations are human beings. They have their own needs, motivation and expectations, and that their contribution to the organisation is much more than that of any other resource being used.

The concept of Human Resource System (HRS) assumes that human beings are a great asset to an organisation. They are not merely necessary evils to be reckoned with; in fact they can contribute a great deal to the achievement of organisational goals. This positive view of people working in the organisations as an asset with unlimited potential is the core of the concept of the human resource system.

Another underlying concept of the system is that investment in human beings is necessary. Investment for increasing the resource is important, and the more an organisation invests in its human resources, the greater the return from the investment is likely to be. This realisation of the need for continuous investment, and the possibility of substantial return, is an important concept of the human resource system. There is also one more reason why investment in human resource is necessary.

It is also being realised that organisations have an obligation to the society, that they should also contribute to the development of people, and operate with the new values of treating people as human beings, as well as contribute to this value of creating traditions and culture of respecting people as human beings.

Human Resource Development in the organisation context is a process by which the employees of an organisation are helped, in a continuous and planned way to:

1) Acquire or sharpen capabilities required to perform various functions associated with their present or expected future roles;

2) Develop their general capabilities as individuals and discover and exploit their own inner potentials for their own and/or organisational development purposes; and

3) Develop an organisational culture in which supervisor-subordinate relationships, teamwork and collaboration among sub-units are strong and contribute to the professional well being, motivation and pride of employees.

This definition of HRD is limited to the organisational context. In the context of a state or nation it would differ.

HRD is a process, not merely a set of mechanisms and techniques. The mechanisms and techniques such as performance appraisal, counselling, training, and organisation development interventions are used to initiate, facilitate, and promote this process in a continuous way. Because the process has no limit, the mechanisms may need to be examined periodically to see whether they are promoting or hindering the process.

Organisations can facilitate this process of development by planning for it, by allocating organisational resources for the purpose, and by exemplifying an HRD philosophy that values human beings and promotes their development.


HRD is needed by any organisation that wants to be dynamic and growth-oriented or to succeed in a fast-changing environment. Organisations can become dynamic and grow only through the efforts and competencies of their human resources. Personnel policies can keep the morale and motivation of employees high, but these efforts are not enough to make the organisation dynamic and take it in new directions. Employee capabilities must continuously be acquired, sharpened, and used. For this purpose, an “enabling” organisational culture is essential. When employees use their initiative, take risks, experiment, innovate, and make things happen, the organisation may be said to have an “enabling” culture.

Even an organisation that has reached its limit of growth, needs to adapt to the changing environment. No organisation is immune to the need for processes that help to acquire and increase its capabilities for stability and renewal. 


The core of the concept of HRS is that of development of human beings, or HRD. The concept of development should cover not only the individual but also other units in the organisation. In addition to developing the individual, attention needs to be given to the development of stronger dyads, i.e., two-person groups of the employee and his boss. Such dyads are the basic units of working in the organisation. Besides several groups like committees, task groups, etc. also require attention. Development of such groups should be from the point of view of increasing collaboration amongst people working in the organisation, thus making for an effective decision-making. Finally, the entire department and the entire organisation also should be covered by development. Their development would involve developing a climate conducive for their effectiveness, developing self-renewing mechanisms in the organisations so that they are able to adjust and pro-act, and developing relevant processes which contribute to their effectiveness.

Hence, the goals of the HRD systems are to develop:

  • The capabilities of each employee as an individual.
  • The capabilities of each individual in relation to his or her present role.
  • The capabilities of each employee in relation to his or her expected future role(s).
  • The dyadic relationship between each employee and his or her supervisor.
  • The team spirit and functioning in every organisational unit (department, group, etc.).
  • Collaboration among different units of the organisation.
  • The organisation’s overall health and self-renewing capabilities which, in turn, increase the enabling capabilities of individuals, dyads, teams, and the entire organisation.

Such a concept of development will focus on the different units available in the organisation for different purposes. The individual and his role are important units for some purposes. For others, groups, departments and the entire organisation are more relevant units. The concept of development should therefore cover all such possible units.

Development in this sense becomes a massive effort. While training may play the major role in designing and monitoring development efforts in the organisation, other parts of the organisation have to share in such an effort. In fact, the person, or the groups for whom the efforts of development are made, is also a partner in this process of development. The four partners or agents of development can be identified as: (a) the person or role, (b) the immediate boss of the person, (c) the human resource management department, and (d) the organisation. The various foci and the four agents of development are shown in Exhibit 1.

HRD Function

1) Analysing the Role

One of the main aspects of HRM is to analyse the role in terms of responsibilities or key functions/ performance areas of the role, and the competencies required to perform the role effectively.

2) Matching the Role and the Person

Once the organisation is clear about the dimensions of the roles or the jobs, it tries to get the best people for these jobs. After people are recruited they are put in different places. Recruitment and placement are important aspects of HRM. Placement is useful for giving varied experiences to people being recruited. Another aspect of matching role and person is reflected in potential appraisal, finding out who has potential to match the requirement of the job. Obviously, the next step is promotion of people by placing them in appropriate roles for which the organization is searching people. Promotion is only one part of long-term and succession planning.

3). Developing the Persons in the Role

Individuals develop not only through training, but, and in fact more through effective supervision, by helping them to understand their strengths so that they can leverage them for better performance. Similarly, they are helped to find out in what they have to be more effective in their jobs. Performance appraisal is not complete unless the performance is properly reviewed and feedback is given, and people are helped to understand their strengths and weaknesses. It is also important to give opportunity to young and bright persons to deal with their problems; such help is provided generally by senior persons who are not necessarily related in job with the person seeking help.

4) Developing the Role for the Person

Very little attention has been given to role, although job rotation is being practiced in most of the organizations, and some organisations have also tried out job enrichment based on Herzberg’s concept of motivators. Traditionally HR function has given attention to individual employees and teams have been generally neglected. It is evident now that most of the work is done by teams, and team effectiveness is important for all organizations.

5) Developing Equitability

Satisfaction level of employees depends to a great extent on their perceived justice being done to them without any discretion, as reflected in practices like management of compensation, rewards, and various amenities. People have high performance and develop competencies only if these are rewarded by the organisation. Reward does not mean financial reward only, many rewards may be non-financial also. Equitability can also be developed by standardising administrative procedures, so that people do not have any feelings that decisions are subjective.

6) Developing Self-renewing Capability

An organisation should be concerned not only with its growth, but also with its health. It needs to diagnose its problems from time-to-time and take steps to develop new competencies to cope with the various problems and challenges it would be facing. This can be done through action research that is concerned with development of competencies through effective teams to diagnose the problems and initiate the process of collaborative work to deal with such problems. In Organisation Development (OD), the focus is on developing process competency to increase organisation effectiveness. OD aims at maintaining profiles of organisational health, monitoring organisational health, assisting sick departments, helping interested units and departments in self-renewal, conflict management, creation of strong teams and so on, and establishing processes that build a climate to promote enabling capabilities in the organisation. OD in the earlier years, mainly in the 1960s (and partly in the 1970s) was team/group-based. Most of the OD interventions in organisations started with deep process work beginning at the top level. OD has now widened considerably, it is no more confined to managers, it has been attempted with workers also. Attention has also been given to organisational learning, to develop the competence of an organisation to analyse its experience and learn from it. The third aspect of self-renewal is research orientation in HRD, which means consciously and continually collecting data in order to understand the various issues, and designing on-going interventions based on such data. For example, data were collected. and used effectively in L&T on the working of the appraisal system including counselling. Such data can help to improve implementation of the appraisal system. HRD related research is important, it helps in analysing data and information generated by the HRD sub-systems. HRD in L&T has already established the orientation and several other organisations are in the process of introducing such “Research-orientation”. For example, data related to HRD are being systematically analysed in Eicher on a regular basis. 

Communication and development of culture, two often neglected aspects, are published in later articles.

7) Coping with Collective Power

Traditionally industrial relations have been dealt in the framework of Industrial and labour laws. Unions and associations of employees use collective power to bargain with the organizations. Although this aspect is undergoing a lot of change, it is still very important, and a whole block has been devoted to various aspects of workers and related issues.

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