All About Human Resources and Talent Management

Sections of this topic

    Guidelines for staffing analysis, recruiting, screening, hiring, and developing human resources are included in the books Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business and Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff.

    © Copyright Carter Manama, MBA, PhD

    Sections of This Topic Include


    • Human Resources Applies to Any Size of Organization
    • Human Resource Guidelines Apply to For-Profits and Nonprofits
    • Clarifying Some Terms — Human Resource Management, Human Resources, HRD, Talent Management

    Field and Roles of Human Resources and Talent Management

    • Another Look at Definitions
    • Role of Human Resources Function in Organizations
    • Challenges Facing Human Resources Function
      • If You Want a Seat at the Table, Learn the Business
      • Additional Resources About Challenges Facing Human Resources
    • Future of Human Resources Function
    • Talent Management — New Movement in Human Resources

    Major Functions of Human Resources and Talent Management

    • Getting the Best Employees
    • Paying Employees (and Providing Benefits)
    • Training Employees
    • Ensuring Compliance with Regulations
    • Ensuring Fair, Safe, and Equitable Work Environments
    • Sustaining High-Performing Employees
    • Nonprofit Human Resources

    Evaluation of Human Resources Practices

    Evaluation of Human Resource Management and Supervision Practices

    General Resources About Human Resources

    • General Resources About Human Resources
    • Some Blogs About Human Resources

    Also, consider
    Related Library Topics

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Human Resources and Talent Management

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Human Resources and Talent Management. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “Next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.


    Human Resources Applies to Any Size of Organization

    This Topic Applies to Any Size of Organization

    All organizations have people — they have human resources. Regardless of the size of an organization or the extent of its resources, the organization survives — and thrives — because of the capabilities and performance of its people. The activities to maximize those capabilities and that performance are necessary regardless of whether the organization refers to them as Human Resource Management, Human Resource Development, or Human Resources — or has no formal name for those activities at all.

    Those activities are the responsibility of all people in the organization. Thus, members of organizations, regardless of size or resources, will benefit from using the resources referenced in this topic.

    Human Resource Guidelines Apply to For-Profits and Nonprofits

    These Human Resource Guidelines Apply to For-Profits and Nonprofits

    The vast majority of resources on this topic apply to nonprofits as well as for-profits. There’s a misconception that there is a big difference in managing human resources in for-profit versus nonprofit organizations. Actually, they should be managed similarly. Nonprofits often have unpaid human resources (volunteers), but we’re learning that volunteers should be managed much like employees — it’s just that they’re not compensated with money; they’re compensated in other ways. Managing volunteers is very similar to paid staff — their roles should be carefully specified, they should be recruited carefully, they should be oriented and trained, they should be organized into appropriate teams or with suitable supervisors, they should be delegated to, their performance should be monitored, performance issues should be addressed, and they should be rewarded for their performance. Also, organizations should consider the risks and liabilities that can occur with volunteers, much like with employees. So nonprofit organizations should consider the resources in this topic as well.

    Clarifying Some Terms — Human Resource Management, Human Resources, HRD, Talent Management

    The Human Resource Management (HRM) function includes a variety of activities, and key among them is responsible for human resources — for deciding what staffing needs you have and whether to use independent contractors or hire employees to fill these needs, recruiting and training the best employees, ensuring they are high performers, dealing with performance issues, and ensuring your personnel and management practices conform to various regulations. Activities also include managing your approach to employee benefits and compensation, employee records, and personnel policies. Usually, small businesses (for-profit or nonprofit) have to carry out these activities themselves because they can’t yet afford part- or full-time help. However, they should always ensure that employees have — and are aware of — personnel policies that conform to current regulations. These policies are often in the form of employee manuals, which all employees have.

    Some people distinguish the difference between HRM and Human Resource Development (HRD), a profession. Those people might include HRM in HRD, explaining that HRD includes a broader range of activities to develop personnel inside of organizations, e.g., career development, training, organization development, etc.

    The HRM function and HRD profession have undergone tremendous change over the past 20-30 years. Many years ago, large organizations looked to the “Personnel Department,” mostly to manage the paperwork around hiring and paying people. More recently, organizations consider the “HR Department” as playing a major role in staffing, training, and helping to manage people so that people and the organization are performing at maximum capability in a highly fulfilling manner. There is a long-standing argument about where HR-related functions should be organized into large organizations, eg, “Should HR be in the Organization Development department or the other way around?”

    Recently, the phrase “talent management” is being used to refer to the activities to attract, develop and retain employees. Some people and organizations use the phrase to refer especially to talented and/or high-potential employees. The phrase often is used interchangeably with HR — although as the field of talent management matures, it’s very likely there will be an increasing number of people who will strongly disagree about the interchange of these fields.

    Many people use the phrase “Human Resource Management,” “Human Resource Development” and “Human Resources” interchangeably, and abbreviate Human Resources as HR — HR has become a conventional term to refer to all of these phrases.

    Thus, this Library uses the phrase “Human Resources” and the term “HR,” not just for simplicity, but to help the reader to see the important, broader perspective on human resources in organizations — what’s required to maximize the capabilities and performance of people in organizations, regardless of the correct phrase or term to be applied when doing that.


    Another Look at Definitions

    The introduction, at the top of this page, offers definitions of common terms and phrases to help the reader first understand the topics and their organization in this overall topic in the Library. It will round out the reader’s knowledge and understanding to review a variety of definitions. Remember that, more important than getting the definitions “right,” is recognizing the purposes and activities that the following resources refer to.

    Role of Human Resources Function in Organizations

    Ask HR-What is it like to work in HR

    © Copyright Sheri Mazurek

    A question I frequently get from those individuals outside of HR is, “What is it like to work in HR?” Well, the answer to that question can vary greatly by HR professional and organization.

    Human Resources (HR) can include a broad spectrum of specialties within organizations. Some examples of specialties include recruiting, payroll, policy, safety, training and development, and performance management. In smaller organizations, the HR professional may handle all of those specialties, and in larger organizations, each specialty is most likely its own department.

    The roles within HR can vary greatly as well as with many departments from the purely administrative to the executive. Another related and perhaps more important question that is often discussed is, “What should HR be doing?” For me, HR’s primary purpose is to ensure that the right people are working in the right places to accomplish the organization’s goal.

    In other words, HR is responsible to develop programs that will attract, select, develop, and retain the talent needed to meet the organizational mission. So whether you are an HR department of one or a combination of multiple departments that include hundreds of employees, your primary responsibility is talent management.

    Here’s a quick test to see if your programs are aligned and focused on the primary purpose of HR. See if you can answer the following questions.

    1. What is the primary mission of the organization?
    2. What talent is needed to meet the mission?
    3. Which programs do you have in the following areas:
      • Identifying and Attracting Talent?
      • Selecting and Hiring Talent?
      • Onboarding Talent?
      • Developing Talent?
      • Retaining Talent?
    4. How is program success measured?
    5. In what areas do we need to improve?

    If you can’t answer these questions, you have some work to do.

    Additional Resources About Roles of Human Resources

    Boards and Human Resources

    Also, consider
    Professionalism in Consulting

    Challenges Facing Human Resources Function

    If You Want a Seat at the Table, Learn the Business

    © Copyright Sheri Mazurek

    In many companies, HR does not occupy a seat at the strategic planning table. Who’s to blame?

    The answer to this question is hotly debated and often clear lines are drawn between those in HR and those in other functions. Many HR professionals blame the leaders for not seeing the value of their function to the organization, while some managers see HR as the roadblock to doing what needs to be done.

    In a 2005 article written by Fast Company Magazine’s Keith Hammonds, Keith purports all the reasons “Why We Hate HR.” If the title itself isn’t enough to put an HR professional on the defense, then providing the declaration that “HR people aren’t the sharpest tacks in the box” as the first reason certainly will. His assertion in the article is that those who enter the HR field are not business people and are ill-equipped to understand business. He quotes a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study that identified which coursework HR professionals found most beneficial to their success in the field to support his message that the majority of those working in the field do not see understanding business as necessary to their success. The results showed that coursework in communications, business law, and ethics was most beneficial.

    A recently released SHRM survey of HR leaders indicates the same finding. The respondents in the U.S. indicated that strategic thinking is one of the top five competencies needed for senior HR leaders; however, business knowledge was not listed. While the lineage of the field of HR coupled with the introduction of legislation to protect employers may have contributed to stereotypes that exist in the field about the HR profession, our failure as HR professionals to recognize that we are business people charged with the company’s most valuable assets will certainly continue to harbor those stereotypes we so emotionally defend. If you want a seat at the table, learn the business of business and speak the language of the executive team.

    Additional Resources About Challenges Facing Human Resources

    Future of Human Resources Function

    “Talent Management” – New Movement in Human Resources?

    Many people are beginning to use the phrase “Talent Management” to refer to the activities of attracting, developing, and retaining employees — three activities also addressed in the sections below. For general overviews of talent management, see: Talent Management

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    Getting the Best Employees

    Regardless of the nature of the organization, it must identify the most important roles in the organization and then recruit, orient, train, and organize people to effectively perform those roles.

    Paying Employees (and Providing Benefits)

    The following link is to a resource that will help you establish suitable policies and procedures for compensating employees and providing benefits in the most equitable and fair manner.

    Benefits and Compensation

    Training and Developing Employees

    Development is more than conveying information to employees — it’s guiding and supporting them to evolve that information into knowledge that can be applied as skills in order to achieve the goals of the organization and its people — and it’s guiding and supporting those people to learn at the same time.

    Ensuring Compliance with Regulations

    Fortunately, compliance is no longer seen by many as the primary role of Human Resources — it’s just one of the roles. However, compliance is as important today as ever, especially considering the diversity of people in the workplace, including their diverse values, opinions, and perspectives.

    Ensuring Fair, Safe, and Equitable Work Environments

    The care and cultivation of human resources should consider at least the following topics — the topics often are addressed as official programs in the workplace.

    Sustaining High-Performing Employees

    Nonprofit Human Resources

    As noted in the introduction to this topic, guidelines to manage human resources in nonprofits are very similar to those to manage in for-profit. See the above paragraph These Human Resource Guidelines Apply to For-Profits and Nonprofits. After reviewing the above resources, nonprofits could review the resources from the following link — the resources mention they are nonprofit-specific.
    Nonprofit Human Resources


    General Resources About Human Resources

    Some Blogs About Human Resources

    For the Category of Human Resources:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.