TECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Soft Skills Approach
The critical issues of technological change involve people, before profits.
To anticipate signs of change when planning and implementing new technology, and assessing the impact of new technology on human resources, managers must ask questions such as the following:
What individual and organizational values are shifting?
How will working conditions change?
How will the change affect organizational and/or individual responsibility?
Who must be re-skilled?
Seeking answers to these questions will enable managers to shift their focus from profit maximization to a concern about the integrated organization.
TECHNOLOGY FOSTERS INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL VALUES
Traditionally, people chose to use new technology to perform dangerous, difficult or dirty tasks [3D’s], to meet a perceived need or because of a preference for a specific value.
Today, technology fosters value.
An unintended result is that technology becomes the prime driver and growth engine of organization and the human resource assumes a secondary role.
In a nutshell: employees facilitate the objectives of technology.
Therefore, managers within technology-driven organizations must consider three questions:
What individual and organizational values are shifting?
Will the adoption of new technology devalue individuals?
How can the new technology assist in the attainment of individual and organizational objectives simultaneously?
HOW TECHNOLOGY CHANGES WORKING CONDITIONS?
Managers often exploit employees to work long hours under technology driven working conditions and endure undue stress.
When profits are pre-eminent, managers use technology to control and monitor employers with the aim of maximizing output.
Employees tolerate managerial manipulation because they want rewards and job security.
With fear and insecurity as the prime motivators, employees tolerate stress, invasion of privacy, and expanded job descriptions in exchange for job security.
Before implementing technological change, managers must seek the balance between control and dignity.
Technology must be used to enrich rather than degrade employees and managers must seek to prevent new technology from demoralizing the workforce.
HOW WILL TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE AFFECT ORGANIZATIONAL AND INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY?
Technology brings with it the penalty of dependence.
When employees rely solely or to a great extent on technology in their tasks, they can soon believe themselves incapable of responding without technology.
Therefore, if technology can replace individuals, technology can displace responsibility.
In the technology-driven organizations, employees run computers and operate machinery. With the computer as the brain and the machinery as the backbone of the organization, employees no longer assume responsibility for production.
Because work is an extension of self, employees who do not feel good about their work do not feel good about themselves.
To deal with their depression and dissatisfaction, people look for solutions in self-defeating avenues and sources.
Never finding the answer and mitigation for their disenchantment, they return to work and find their feelings of worthlessness reinforced.
In order to help individuals cast off this vision of themselves as inadequate and accept responsibility, managers can collaborate with employees to define and align goals with appropriate standards for mutual benefit.
Managers can sustain and empower employees by sharing power and by holding employees responsible for output and for their security.
In this way, technology is the tool, and the organization is the environment in which employees seek satisfaction.
As a result, the organization prospers.
WHO MUST BE RE-SKILLED?
If managers perceive technology as enhancing only the organization, the degree of change within tasks determines the extensiveness of re-skilling training.
However, if their goal includes renewal of the human resource, training involves attitudinal, relational, and intra-organizational adjustment.
A comprehensive approach to training for technological change requires that managers perceive change as a process consisting of interdependent factors rather than merely training workers how to use new technology without considering behavioural, social, and contextual factors [Soft-Skills].
In addition to enhancing skills, managers must permit workers to express how they feel about their tasks as well as their changing roles and relationships with other employees.
By doing so, managers learn how to interact with employees in the technologically changed environment to create a synergy of experience, power, and knowledge.
Some employees, however, know ho to play the organization, to impede interaction and, ultimately, curtail growth.
Responsible managers, committed to the integrity of the organization and its employees, must identify these manipulative employees, confront and challenge them to change, and, if necessary, remove them.
Training for technological change requires courage as well as re-skilling.
Technological change involves people, not profits; therefore, the key to preparing for change is to understand how people react to technology.
Managers must ask how values and responsibilities shift within their own organizations.
They cannot mimic the strategies of other firms or rely on the tactics of consultants.
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.