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Strategic Human Resource Management in a Team-Based Veterinary Healthcare System

Essay by   •  December 18, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,051 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,250 Views

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Productivity in all organizations is determined by how human resources interact and combine to use all other management system resources (Certo, 2009, Chapter 13: Human Resource Management). Professional human resources (HR) management is an increasingly vital area in any organization, give HR's responsibility for building, creating and sustaining talent and other organizational capabilities that create competitive advantage through hiring, training, and rewarding people and designing and managing effective organization processes.

Oftentimes the Human Resource Department (HRD) is seen more as a cost center or an expense to a small business organization such as a private practice veterinary hospital instead of as a strategic partner to help contribute to the bottom-line. The current turbulent veterinary practice environment has caused the larger practices to pursue strategic planning (Catanazaro, 2008). Usually, small businesses are very focused in just the revenue or "bottom line" and fail to realize how human resources can effectively and efficiently execute organizational success for small businesses (Kaufman and Miller, 2011).

In the early 1990's, the implementation of the strategic planning process simply ended with goals and objectives, but without strategies or methods of implementation or performance monitoring (Catanzaro, 2008). When implementation strategies were developed, they were usually ineffective, because the strategic planning tended to be a top-level, administrative function, with the exclusion of the middle management and staff (McManis, 1995). Without participation and support from those who it would potentially benefit most, strategic planning did not often develop into an ongoing process. Strategic assessment and strategic response are the watchwords of a service industry such as veterinary medicine (Catanzaro, 2008).

Human resources, as a critical competitive factor, have not received much attention in healthcare (McManis, 1995). It has been found in non-healthcare industries that three environmental factors cause better integration of the strategic planning process and human resource functions: 1) Increased competition, 2) Technological change, and 3) Changing labor demographics (Kaufman and Miller, 2011). All of these factors applied to the practice of veterinary medicine in the 1990s and are now becoming critical to the survival in the new millennium. Linking business and human resource management has repeatedly proven beneficial, such as the consulting adage, "As you treat your staff, so will they treat your clients."

Certo (2009) points out several different management approaches to link human resource management with the strategic planning process. Table 1 illustrates these four different management approaches and their outcomes according to Catanzaro (2008).

Table 1. Probable Outcomes of Different Management (Linkage) Types on Business Strategy and Competitive Environment

Human Resource Strategies

Management Type or Linkage Type Probably Outcome on Business Strategy Probably Impact on Competitive Edge

Administrative Counteracting or unrelated. Decrease competitive advantage.

One-way Partially reinforcing. Very little impact on competitive edge.

Two-way advantage High degree of reinforcement. Improved use to gain competitive advantage.

Integrative advantage Constant reinforcement. Maximized to improve competitive advantage.

With the Table 1 management or linkage descriptions in mind, it is important to define strategic human resource management, as used in this description, for veterinary medical healthcare delivery situations. Strategic management of human resources must ensure that qualified people are available to staff the various technical and business aspects that will operate the business entity on a continuing and recurring basis (Misha and Akman, 2010). To lead and develop human resources strategically, astute coordinators must understand the relationships that exist within the mission focus and daily practice functions, so that appropriate methods can be unilaterally selected with a practice zone to accomplish organizational goal success.

In team-based healthcare delivery, strategic use of human resources is a pivot point of success. It does not stand alone. Rather, it is "systematically pervasive throughout the concept of an integrated healthcare delivery system" (Catanzaro, 2008). Most veterinary practices demonstrate a lack of commitment to systemically change their ways of thinking. This actually points out the management "cherry-picker" (Catanzaro, 2008). Management "cherry pickers" are those who feel they are a super manager, and attend every management seminar they can, taking plenty of notes during these lectures. They often go back to their practices with great ideas, to throw them around and although some of these ideas may stick, most of them fall off in short order. The managers do not receive the support from their subordinates and as a result, they await failure and return to status quo. Studies show that approximately 55% of Americans usually feel most secure with the status quo (Galagan, 2011). Change cannot occur without a total practice culture embracing sequential changes as "expected" normal behavior.

To summarize Table 2 that follows Figure 1, the strategic approach to human resource management includes six areas of interest, with the final two as key integrative concerns of veterinary practice staff development and utilization(Catanzaro, 2008):

Assessing the environmental and mission focus

Formulating the client-centered practice business strategy

Assessing the staffing requirements based on the intended strategy

Comparing the existing staff resources, such as numbers, characteristics and practice polices, with the strategic requirements and the practice's market niche and services

Formulating the human resource strategy, based on the differences between the strategic requirements and current staff strengths

Implementing the appropriate human resource practices to reinforce the strategy, use of staff strengths and achieve the competitive advantage

Synergy is the magic ingredient, the link that joins the multiple aspect of human preferences, with the business factors of healthcare delivery (McManis, 1995). It is the essential element in the unique are of leadership, one that

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