Editorial: What’s in a Name?

The term ‘human resources’ has some pretty negative connotations considering the fact it describes generally positive activity. But like it or not, it is the term we use to describe the discipline and the managers who manage people. More important than the name however, is the direction HR management will take in future. As our writer Vicki Jayne asks in our cover story this month: “If people are critical drivers of business success, why aren’t more human resource managers sitting at boardroom tables?” Good question. We set out originally to review the enormous changes taking place in the way organisations recruit, reward, motivate, and generally manage people. We discovered that the speed at which the dynamics of the industry are being altered by globalisation, individual attitudes toward work and technology are all creating more than little confusion out there.

The trends are altering the rules of the HR game. The contract between employer and employee is moving from one of “benefactor/supplicant” to one of “equals engaging in mutually beneficial partnership”. This change in the employing relationship is, as Vicki found, driving the surge in coaching and mentoring, in team building and leadership development, and in upskilling and personal development. The personal coaching business is currently one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the US economy. And, by the way, that brings with it both problems and possibilities.

The shift in management focus from process to people is an important transition, particularly for an economy like ours. Income derived from intellect and enterprise rather than inventory is an attractive prospect. There are many talented people in New Zealand. But unless they are well managed and led the country will not benefit from their potential. Inspirational leaders, like Port of Tauranga chief executive Jon Mayson who also features in this issue, embrace the philosophies that HR management should practice and preach. Mayson understands that people are not simply ‘resource’. Resources surely are inanimate and do not think. And they certainly do not have heart, soul or talents than can be taken to the world.

This issue of Management might be bit heavy on the HR content but when it comes to talking about the priorities and the practicalities of managing people and understanding just what is happening to the world in which we work, I hope you’ll agree that it’s important both to read and to think about.

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