H&M is one of the leading manufacturers of men and women clothes in the world. With a population of about 116,000 employees working across 53 countries, the human resource management unit has an important role in ensuring that all employees have the right training that is required in their respective fields. According to Blanchard and Thacker (2013, p. 87), the business environment has become very competitive, and the management of this firm has the duty of improving the efficiency of production and product delivery strategies in order to manage this competition. The director of training and development must be able to determine the best training approaches that can help in improving employees’ performance.
One of the best ways of achieving this efficiency is to ensure that employees have the right skills and experience in their respective tasks. Employees form a very important component of an organisation, and they play a pivotal role in ensuring that there is a success in all the projects initiated in different departments. Ranked second-largest clothing manufacturer and retailer in the world, the management must realise that they have a duty of maintaining the efficiency of the workforce in order to retain this attractive position.
As Armstrong (2007, p. 121) says, “One of the key recurring themes within the study of Human Resource Management is the importance of aligning HRM strategies and practices with the goals of the organisation.” This means that human resource management has the role of ensuring that the employees have the capacity of making the organisation to achieve its goals.
This can be achieved by contracting competent consultants who understand the changing environment in this industry. The purpose of the training strategy is to equip the employees with the necessary skills that will help improve their productivity in their respective assignments. The report is meant for the director of training and development of H&M to help him in developing effective training programmes at this institution.
H&M is a Swedish apparel firm that has achieved massive success in the apparel industry over the year. Started by Erling Persson in 1946 as Hennes, the main market segment of this firm during the early years was women clothing. In 1968, Hennes acquired Mouritz Widforss which had specialised on men’s clothing. This enabled this firm to enter into the men clothing segment, which was also becoming relevant during this period.
This saw its name change to Hennes and Mouritz which is generally abbreviated as H&M. The clothes that this firm sold in the market gained massive popularity in Sweden, and the firm started opening several branches in other European countries, especially Germany and the United Kingdom. By 2011, the firm had several branches in Europe, North and South America, Asia-Pacific, and some African countries. The data released by the firm for the year ended 2011revealed that the company has about 116,000 employees.
The strategy that the firm is currently using may not be effective enough to meet the needs of the organisation. For instance, it is clear that this firm has been organising regular seminars once every year. However, this is not enough. Although the management has embraced a number of ISO certification, especially in its production system, it lacks clear models of employees’ management.
The external environment has largely remained very unpredictable due to the changing forces. As the director of training and development at H&M, it is important to note that there are various external forces which have direct impacts on the employees’ performance. It is important to understand the changing strategies in various areas of the employees’ management.
Best practice shown by other leading organisations in this or other related industry should be emulated or perfected in order to improve the output of the workforce. In the context of the external environment, the employees need regular training using appropriate models to make their standards meet those of international players in this industry. This is the only way that this firm can manage to retain its competitiveness in the market.
There are some internal factors that would make the employees of this firm unique from those of other firms. According to Waldrop (2008, p. 39), it is important for the human resource management to identify unique internal needs of the employees within the firm and design training programmes that would meet these needs. At H&M, this would be the responsibility of the director of training and development. From the human resource context, the director of training and development of this firm should be concerned with finding the best way of training its 116,000 employees to understand the best practice in this industry. The workforce should be efficient enough to help the firm in meeting its strategic objectives.
Training & Development Models
According to Buhler (2010, p. 18), it is always necessary to have a clear vision before defining models that would be appropriate for the training and development sessions. This means that the director of training and development should develop a clear vision that would help guide the process of training and development. It should be clear what the firm seeks to achieve when subjecting their employees to a training process. It is easier to work towards a clearly stated vision. The following vision statement would be appropriate for the human resource management unit.
To create a dynamic workforce that is able to meet the changing needs in various departments within this organisation.
As shown in the above vision statement, employees’ training is not a one-day event. It is rather a continuous process that is done regularly to make the employees understand the changing workplace needs. A strategy that works today may not be appropriate for the workplace environment tomorrow. For this reason, developing a model that embraces dynamism is the best approach that can enable a firm to retain a dynamic workforce.
It is important to identify theories and models that can support the vision of continuous changes within the workforce towards achieving maximum output in all the departments within the organisation. According to Rao (2007, p. 95), using relevant theories and models can make the process easier because it helps in stipulating the steps that should be taken when conducting the training process. The vision stated above for the training and development of employees of H&M is founded by three main change management models.
This is one of the main models that would define the training strategy that would be used to achieve the desired results in this training programme. One factor that makes this model very appropriate is that it gives a clear guideline of the steps that should be taken when initiating a training process among employees. The following diagram shows the model.
As shown in the diagram above, this model proposes four main stages that should be observed when initiating a training programme. The first stage involves stating the goals in clear and measurable terms. This makes it easy for the involved stakeholders to have a clear vision of what should be achieved within a specific period of time (Sims 2002, p. 58). The second stage involves analysing the realities of the situation within the organisation. This would involve determining the difference between the current workforce’s capacity and the expected capacity.
It would also involve identifying forces that may affect the normal training process to achieve the desired change. In this stage, the training and development officers should be able to state clearly all the available options and choose the most appropriate one that would meet the needs of the organisation. The option chosen should be the simplest and cheapest one that would not burden the organisation.
Change Management Model
Another human resource training model that would be appropriate for the vision stated above would be the Change Management Model. This model is shown in the diagram below.
As shown in this model, the focus would be to ensure that there is a continuous improvement effort which takes five steps. The first step in this model is an evaluation of the environmental forces in order to determine if there is a need for change. The second step would be to assess the current status of the workforce against the expectations of the market forces.
If it is determined that there is a gap in employees’ capacity, the training and development team will design the most appropriate training programme for the employees in order to improve their performance (Durai 2010, p. 114). The programme chosen should be specifically meant to address the issues which require change. The fourth stage is the implementation of the chosen design. The trainees and the trainers must be able to implement the planned training strategies within the set time. The last stage involves managing change.
Kurt Lewin Model of Change
Another popular change management model that is relevant to the above vision statement developed for the human resource unit of H&M is Kurt Lewin Model of Change in managing change. This is demonstrated in the figure below.
In this model, the management will need to determine when it is the right time to make the change. When this is determined, the organisation would need to develop an environment within the workplace that would be able to accept the change when it is introduced. They should be informed that some of the old strategies may need change so as to prepare them psychologically (Mathis & Jackson 2009, p. 49). When they are ready for the change, the management should introduce the new system into the organisation (Arthur 2004, p. 85).
H&M Employee Training Program
The vision for training and development has been clearly stated in the section above, and it is clear that the department of the human resource must be ready for a continuous training process in order to maintain the desired dynamism within this firm. An appropriate programme should be chosen that would help yield the best results for the organisation. This way, it would be possible to ensure that employees remain updated on the best practice in their respective areas of operations. The programme should focus on the following three areas.
A training programme that is focused on technical skills should be given the priority because of its relevance in the current external business environment. According to Hernandez and O’Connor (2010, p. 74), technical skills are core to enabling employees to address technical tasks that make the difference between a successful company and a failing one. Employers are currently experiencing problems in finding the best workforce with the right technical skills for their respective duties.
Most of the 116,000 employees of H&M are working in the manufacturing plants. Most of these employees only know the basic skills of how to operate heavy machines used at the production plant (Pynes 2009, p. 67). A perfect example of a training programme for this group that is focused on improving their technical skills would be focused on how to use the new, improved sewing machines. This can be done through coaching, mentoring, and e-learning.
Couching of employees at the manufacturing plants would be very important in improving their performance. This should be done on a regular basis to ensure that the employees in the production department have the technical skills they need to operate the machines. This would help avoid wastage that is always associated with limited knowledge of the workers about operations of the machines. It will also help in reducing cases of accidents within the plant which occur due to ignorance of some of the employees (Martin 2006, p. 49).
The Human resource department at H&M should also consider introducing mentoring programs, especially among the marketing officers. The marketing department will need to introduce a mentoring programme to help the workforce in this department improve their technical skills on how to handle customers in the market. All other departments will need to design training programmes that would help improve the technical skills of their workforce.
The management of this firm should introduce e-learning programs for all the employees to make them understand the best practice in their respective field. The research and development unit should always avail its findings to all the employees through online means to promote the sharing of knowledge.
The management of this firm should not be left out in the training programmes, especially the mid-level managers. According to the research by Secord and Secord (2003, p. 116), most of the successful organisations always attribute their success to a committed and knowledgeable mid-level managers. The mid-level managers are the direct links between the top management unit that develops strategic objectives, and the junior employees expected to implement the policies.
To achieve this level of success, it is necessary to organise a regular training programme that would enable them to understand changes that take place in their respective departments (Cartwright 2003, p. 71). The most appropriate training programme for this group will be through regular seminars organised by industry experts.
It would be necessary to understand that leadership is different from managers. Some leaders in an organisation may not be necessarily managers. Their special knowledge, talents, skills, or ability to mobilise and motivate others may automatically make them leaders. Such leaders should be identified, however junior their position in the company may be, and used to initiate and maintain a culture of dynamism within the organisation through proper training programmes of change management.
The chosen strategy should be correctly evaluated to determine its effectiveness in meeting the set vision for this department. Determining an effective evaluation strategy would be an important ingredient in making the programme beneficial to the organisation. The strategy should be able to evaluate if the chosen strategy is able to yield the expected returns and if the strategy has been applied correctly (Wilson 2006, p. 52). The diagram below shows the process of choosing the appropriate evaluation strategy for this programme of training employees the technical skills.
Sample evaluation methods
As shown in the diagram above, the chosen strategy must be feasible, suitable, and acceptable to all the relevant stakeholders. Kirkpatrick Theory will be used to evaluate this strategy in order to determine its capacity to give the desired results. A sample evaluation method that would be appropriate for this programme would be benchmarking (Sims 1998, p. 45). This would involve identifying the best practice in the industry and measuring the individual employee’s performance against it.
H&M Training Risk Management
Training and development poses some risks that director of training and development at H&M should be aware of in order to develop mitigation plans. Training and development involve creating change within an organisation. One of the common risks associated with change in an organisation is resistance from the concerned stakeholders. The management of junior employees may resist a change that comes with the training. This complicates the training process, and may hinder the ability the programme to achieve the expected outcomes.
Another common risk would be high trained employees’ turnover. It is costly for a firm to lose its trained staff to the rival firms. This is so because it means that all the investment made on such an employee would be lost to the rival companies. Some of the training programmes may be expensive, making their implementation very costly (Baker & Doran 2002, p. 81). This may be a risk to other projects that may need the resources for development purposes.
The risk of change resistance can be mitigated by creation of awareness about the importance of dynamism within the organisation. Employees should be informed of the importance of being ready to change. Good remuneration and improved working environment may be useful in reducing the risk of employees’ turnover.
Conclusion for the training strategies at H&M
It is clear from the above discussion that the director of training and development at H&M needs to appreciate the need for maintaining dynamism among the employees through creation of effective training programmes. H&M is one of the successful firms in the apparel industry, and this success can only be maintained if the management embraces effective training programmes. The director of training and development of this firm should consider the implementation of the following recommendations.
Next steps about consultancy
- The leadership of H&M should promote a culture of change in the organisation in order to help eliminate any form of resistance towards changing environmental factors.
- Training should be a continuous process that should take place periodically to help improve the performance of the employees.
- The director of training and development should consider making regular consultancy when planning to make major organisational changes among the workforce.
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