Sample Term Paper on 6303 Strategic Human Resources Management and Leadership


  1. How does strategic Human Resource (HR) Management differ from operational Human Resource Management?

In terms of process, strategic HRM aligns human resource practices and strategies with business strategy to enable the firm to accomplish its mission. It translates the vision of the firm from broad statements to specific long-term (2-4 year) projects and objectives with measurable outcomes. In contrast, operational HRM is concerned with managing firm infrastructure on a day-to-day basis to achieve short-term (daily, weekly and monthly) objectives designed to enable the accomplishment of strategic goals (Shaikh, 2012, p. 61). In terms of people, strategic HRM is concerned with managing transformation and change by designing and implementing appropriate strategies for cultural and business change to enable the organization to adapt to changing business environment. On the contrary, operational HRM focuses on maximizing employee performance on a daily basis through developing human capital, addressing employee needs, and adjusting resources to meet the changing demands of employees.

  1. What are the core strategic HR activities?

A strategic HR designs job profiles aligned with the firm’s strategic objectives and then recruits qualified people for the jobs. Closely related to job profiling and recruitment roles is compensation. The HR designs competitive compensation plans that meet the organizational and employee needs (Week 2, slide 22). In addition, the HR manages the performance of the organization by setting standards, monitoring work, enhancing employee ability, and rewarding exemplary performance (Kandula, 2007, p. 51). Furthermore, the strategic HR manages talent by identifying employees with the highest potential and investing in them through training and expanding career opportunities. Moreover, the strategic HR meets the learning and development needs of employees through assessment of training needs, designing and implementing appropriate educational and training programs, and evaluating the outcomes (Kandula, 2007, p. 52). Another strategic HR task is creating organizational culture. This involves communicating organizational values, creating avenues for collaboration, and building effective teams. The strategic HR acquires appropriate information systems to ensure effective tracking of employee data and measurement of performance. Finally, the strategic HR manages organizational change by identifying change needs, reallocating resources, and dealing with resistance.

  1. What is the relationship between corporate strategy and HR strategy?

Corporate strategy determines HR strategy. The role of HR strategy is to put a firm’s business strategy into action by aligning projects and plans with the firm’s market orientation (Shaikh, 2012, p. 61). For example, organizations that have a narrow product line derive competitive advantage from efficient operations and cost management. The HR strategies of such organizations tend to focus on improving employee competence and expertise. Firms with broad product lines tend to be on the lookout for new markets and emphasize innovation (Week 1, slide 38). Their HR strategies are intended to improve creativity rather than operational efficiency. Some firms emphasize creativity in some areas and innovation in other areas based on their market structure while others keep adjusting their HR strategies as their business strategy evolves. Therefore, corporate strategy is the independent variable while HR strategy is the dependent variable.

  1. What are the different strategic HR management axis?

Strategic HR management consists of two axes that delineate the types of HR focus and the range of HR activities (see fig. 1). Strategic HR focus consists of both long-term plans (strategic objectives) and short-term plans (operational objectives) (Shaikh, 2012, p. 61). Strategic HR managers are expected to function at both strategic and operational levels, meaning that they must align operational objectives to the strategic HR goals. Strategic HR activities range from process to people activities. In the process category, HR managers are required to manage strategic human resources at the strategic level and firm infrastructure at the operational level. In the people category, strategic managers are expected to manage transformation and change at the strategic level and employee contribution at the operational level (Shaikh, 2012, p. 61).

Figure 1: strategic HRM Axis

Source: Shaikh, M. R. (2012). Strategic human resource management. What are the latest trends in Strategic HR management?

First, HR management is increasingly focusing on promoting employee competency and adaptability as a strategy for achieving competitive edge. This trend is associated with the growing emphasis on the role of strategic alignment of management principles and practices in the success of corporate strategy (Kaufman, 2014, p. 406). In addition, the role of employees in product improvement through innovation is gaining recognition within HR management circles. HR managers are expected to engage employees in solving customer problems through motivating them to participate in innovation. Furthermore, globalization and technological advancement has paved way for new workplace structure and increased workplace diversity. Today’s workplace is more decentralized in terms of responsibility and authority with a growing number of employees working from home. HR management role is evolving to incorporate the changes in workplace arrangements by emphasizing fair treatment of all employees, preparing employees for change and increasing personnel commitment to quality (Kaufman, 2014, p. 407).

  1. What are the HR professionals’ key competences?

The key competencies of a HR professional are business competence, professional competence, change management competence and integration competence. Business competence refers to having adequate understanding of the business strategy including its financial, organizational, technological and strategic capabilities (Becker, Ulrich & Huselid, 2001, chap. 7). This will enable the HR to develop a suitable HR strategy. Professional competence refers to having the knowledge and expertise in the field of HR management. The ability to apply HR theory in building successful HR strategies is essential in cultivating respect from colleagues and partners as well as building brand credibility. Competency in managing organizational change includes being able to identify problems, set goals, mobilize stakeholders, find innovative solutions, implement and evaluate the change process (Becker, Ulrich & Huselid, 2001, chap. 7). Integration competence refers to the ability to cultivate organizational culture characterized by shared values that steer employees towards better performance.

  1. Why is it important to make regular Human Resource audits?

Regular HR audits enable firms to identify potential employment-related issues and address them in advance to prevent legal claims. HR audits ensure that employment contracts and practices follow clearly established employment systems and laws to minimize legal liability (Basu, 2010, p.12). In addition, audits reveal gaps in the current HR management practices, thus enabling firms to implement HR improvement activities purposefully. Managers can learn new human resource strategies through participating in audits and audit reviews. Furthermore, audits generate information that can guide the firm in integrating its business strategies with appropriate human resource systems. For example, HR audits provide facts about employee competence, adequacy of compensation programs and the effectiveness of current operations in achieving organizational objectives (Basu, 2010, p.13). Such information can guide future HR decisions.

  1. What are the elements of a job profile?

A good job profile consists of five elements. The first element is a purpose statement that identifies the job title, the importance of the job to the firm, and the department under which the job exists (Week 2, slide 10). The second element is a description of the terms of employment including salary, allowances and other benefits (Chelladurai, 2006, p. 166). The third component is a description of the roles pertaining to the job, expected outcomes and performance indicators. Related roles can be grouped together into categories with each category identified as a key role. The fourth element is a description of the required competences for the job including academic qualifications, skills, and experience. Finally, the job profile outlines other job conditions such as traveling, specific abilities, gender, and supervisory relationships.

  1. What options a company has for finding candidates for recruiting?

A firm can obtain candidates for recruitment to a job through in-house recruitment, social media, outsourcing, employment agencies and executive search firms. In-house recruitment means that the firm’s HR department liaises with an in-house recruitment department to obtain suitable candidates for job offers (Burkholder et al., 2004, p. 117). The in-house recruiter advertises for jobs in websites and other locations and finds suitable candidates to forward to the HR department. Social media recruitment involves posting job offers in social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Social media has other benefits such as the possibility of increasing brand awareness and attracting passive job seekers. A company that lacks appropriate mechanisms for recruiting can outsource its candidates from another firm. For jobs that require unskilled labor or specialized skills, employment agencies can be a quick source of candidates for prospective employers (Burkholder et al., 2004, p. 117). Executive search firms are third-party recruiters who seek highly skilled recruitment candidates on behalf of a company. They engage in aggressive recruitment activities such as arranging for interviews, preparing candidates and negotiating salaries.

  1. Why does organizational culture matter?

Organizational culture affects all aspects of an organization including employee behavior, organizational performance and HR management functions. A healthy organization culture enhances organizational success by increasing collaboration and encouraging healthy competition in accordance with the firm’s market strategy (Condrey, 2010 p. 326). Culture ensures continuity of beliefs, attitudes, norms and behaviors that are deemed desirable for the firm to achieve its goals. The value of organizational culture is most visible during change. A culture based on high level of openness between employees and employers is associated with positive attitudes towards change. HR managers can use culture as a tool to adapt their organizations to changes in the business environment (Week 3, slide 37). Being able to alter culture to align it with changing organizational goals is an important aspect of HR management because culture predicts employee behavior such as resistance and cooperation.

  1. What are the elements of organizational culture?

Organizational culture consists of six elements: organizational structure, vision, people, processes, values, symbols. Organizational structure refers to the systems that guide the operations and relationships within an organization including sources of authority, control systems and information flow (Week 3, slide 7). For example, top managers do most of the decision-making roles in a centralized structure as opposed to decentralized structures where employees and departments have greater autonomy. Vision guides all organizational activities including business and HR strategies (Campodonico, 2011, p. 35). Without people, culture would lack meaning and coherence because people create values and attach meaning to them. Processes refer to the daily activities the organization engages in to accomplish its goals. Values shape people’s attitudes towards organizational goals and practices. Symbols refer to stories or narratives used to communicate the organization’s history, achievements and heritage. Repeated interaction with symbols helps to implant the organization’s values and heritage into the minds and hearts of its members.

  1. Why people are prone to resist change?

People resist change for several reasons. For example, past failures and disappointments can cause people to hesitate from venturing into unknown worlds (Week 4, slide 18). In such cases, resistance becomes a tool for self-defense. In addition, employees may resist change if they feel insecure about the outcomes of change. For example, if change is likely to result in job loss, unfavorable status change or considerable alteration of power relationships, people are likely to resist (Kreitner, 2008, p. 435). Another reason to resist change is the fear of failing to meeting the expectations that change brings. This explains why employees might resist change despite acknowledging its benefits. For example, nurses my resist the implementation of electronic medical records for fear that they will not master the technical skills required to use the new tools effectively. Furthermore, employees might resist change because they do not understand its rationale (Kreitner, 2008, p. 434). Such employees often criticize change in order to increase discussions for better understanding of the rationale for change.

  1. What are the key success factors in change management?

One of the best practices in managing change is effective communication. Change managers must communicate their vision and goals for change as well as the procedures that will be used to implement the change. Effective communication is two-way, and involves sending appropriate and consistent messages to employees and listening to employees’ concerns, questions, misunderstandings and other types of feedback (Kreitner, 2009, p. 436). Another strategy for managing change is empowering employees and eliminating structural barriers. To empower employees to embrace change, managers can involve employees in the design and implementation of change strategies. To eliminate anxiety and fear, managers can facilitate the provision of support services such as training, counseling and paid leaves if necessary. Managers can minimize structural barriers by matching HR strategies and programs with the change vision. Furthermore, managers can inspire employees to embrace change by setting achievable short-term success indicators. Visible short-term wins provide the motivation necessary to generate support for the remaining stages of transformation. Moreover, the change manager should never give up even when the going gets tough. Determination is a good source of inspiration.

  1. What types of innovations there are?

Innovations fall into four main categories: process innovation, product innovation, delivery-focused innovation, and finance model innovation. Process innovation involves the improvement of operations that yield products or services (Keeley, 2013, p. 6). The innovation may target the core production process (core process) or the enabling processes. An example is Zara, which gained competitive advantage by shortening the production process time to three weeks. Product innovation targets the features, value and quality of a product or a service. It includes new products, product updates and value-adding line extensions. Examples include easier-to-use toothbrushes and energy conserving cookers. The product innovation model also applies to services because service features such as quality, utility and flexibility can be improved. Delivery-focused innovation targets delivery channels, brand expression and customer experience for improvement. For example, delivery channels can be increased to make the service or product more accessible, the sales procedure and product information can be provided in a consistent manner to create brand image, and customer experience can be expanded at little or no additional cost. Finance innovations aim to improve the business model and the firm’s value chain to increase competitiveness (Keeley, 2013, p. 3).

  1. How HR function can support building innovative teams?

One of the ways in which HR function can support innovation is by involving all employees. Employees are most likely to innovate if managers support their efforts (Talukder, 2014, p. 18). HR support activities include the provision of resources, building abilities, and rewarding attempts at innovation. Another way of supporting innovation is training. Many innovations require expertise in targeted area and adequate understanding of the likely impact of the innovation. Through training and provision of information, employees gain confidence and the ideas they need to engage in innovation. Training also reduces the anxiety associated with innovation attempts (Talukder, 2014, p. 17). Furthermore, HR managers can encourage innovation through providing incentives that are aligned with the organization’s innovation needs. Incentives include recognition of personal achievement through rewards and support, career advancement and other individual benefits. Moreover, HR can increase innovation activity by developing practical innovation plans for specific teams to implement. The HR sets standards and expectations while the team comes up with innovative ways of achieving the expectations.

  1. How to motivate people in their work?

One way of motivating employees is to design jobs that are meaningful to both the organization and the employee. Tasks should be strategy-based rather than arbitrary to cultivate a sense of direction and purpose in the employee and enable performance measurement and appraisal (Kreitner, 2009, p. 342). Job design can be improved by adopting flexible work arrangements and utilizing technology to eliminate boredom and fatigue. Besides job design, reinforcements can increase employee motivation. Rewards can be extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic rewards include money, benefits, recognition, praise and promotions received from others while intrinsic rewards are psychological benefits a person experiences on their own (Kreitner, 2009, p. 342). The HR function can use rewards to improve employee motivation extrinsically and intrinsically. Another strategy for motivating workers is involving them in decision-making processes such as goal setting, problem solving and innovation (Kreitner, 2009, p. 352). Participation empowers employees to take challenging roles and grow. Finally, implementing quality work-life balance programs can motivate employees by showing concern for workers overall wellbeing. Such programs enhance flexibility, minimize stress and increase productivity.

  1. What different leadership styles there are?

Leadership styles include charismatic, transformational, quiet leadership and servant leadership. Charismatic leadership involves the use of personal attributes such as charm and passion to win followers. Charismatic leaders focus on empowering people by stirring up their beliefs, appealing to their emotions and mobilizing them towards a common purpose (Dwyer, 2013, p. 187). Transformational leadership is similar to charismatic leadership in that it emphasizes peoples’ passions and beliefs as tools for empowerment. Transformational leaders are capable of inspiring followers to pursue a collective vision, engage in innovative ways of solving problems and thrive through change. Quiet leadership occurs when the leader inspires followers by their own actions rather than appealing to their emotions and beliefs. Servant leadership occurs when the leader puts followers first rather than impose personal ideas and goals. Servant leaders listen to everyone and appreciate individual differences and needs rather than seek control (McClelland, 2008, p. 38).

  1. How to develop your leadership qualities

The starting point in developing leadership qualities is self-awareness. Developing self-awareness provides an individual with an understanding of his or her leadership style, capabilities and skills (Sindell & Hoang, 2001, p. 6). One can gain self-awareness through enquiry, personality tests, and analyzing feedback from others (Week 6, slide 12). Besides self-awareness, an individual should focus on developing specific leadership qualities that a leader must have. For instance, a leader should be knowledgeable in the field he or she practices. Gaining knowledge requires study, experience and exposure. Another leadership quality that can be improved through learning is communication skills. Leaders can develop this skill by identifying the specific skills that make communication effective such as listening, feedback and clarity of messages. A leader can improve his/her ability to develop other leaders by creating and implementing individual development plans based on a comprehensive assessment of personal needs, skill levels and organizational needs (Sindell & Hoang, 2001, p. 8). In summary, personal leadership development is a continuous process that requires learning, experience, reflection and improvement.


Basu, S. K. (2010). Fundamentals of auditing. Delhi: Pearson.

Becker, B. E., Huselid, M. A., & Ulrich, D. (2001). The HR scorecard: Linking people, strategy, and performance. Boston, MA : Harvard Business School Press.

Burkholder, N. C., Sr, P. J. E., & Sartain, L. (2004). On Staffing: Advice and Perspectives from HR Leaders. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

Campodonico, S. P. (2011). Culturology: Using organizational culture for strategic growth. Lenoxtown, UK: Lulu

Chelladurai, P. (2006). Human resource management in sport and recreation. Leeds: Human Kinetics.

Condrey, S. E. (2010). Handbook of human resource management in government. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Dwyer, J. (2012). Communication for business and the professions: Strategies and skills. Sydney: Pearson Higher Education AU.

indell, M., Hoang, T., & American Society for Training and Development. (2001).Leadership development: Management development. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Kandula, S. R. (2007). Human resource management in practice: With 300 models, techniques and tools. New Delhi: Prentice-Hall of India.

Kaufman, B. E. (2014). The development of human resource management across nations: Unity and diversity. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishers.

Keeley, L. (2013). Ten types of innovation: The discipline of building breakthroughs. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Kreitner, R. (2009). Management. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

McClelland, J. M. (2008). Leading a volunteer organization: Impact of leadership styles on the performance of boy scout councils. ProQuest.

Shaikh, M. R. (2012). Strategic human resource management.

Talukder, M. (2014). Managing innovation adoption: From innovation to implementation. London, UK: Gower Publishing ltd.