The impact of human relations on management structures
An important concern in HR Management is to examine the influence of human relations on the management structure. It is argued by Boxall & Macky (2007) that
“major gaps between management intentions and perceived management actions usually undermine employee trust and loyalty and thus affect performance outcomes”.
The central argument presented by Boxall & Macky (2007) suggests that it is not always what management envisions or intends to accomplish that is actually accomplished in the organization. In fact, if the actions of management are perceived in a certain way by employees, this will unavoidably result in mistrust and negative performance outcomes. Further investigations into this gap between staff perception and actual performance bring into focus the argument presented by Borgogni et al. in which it was revealed through a study conducted, that the
“perceptions of the immediate supervisor were related to group collective efficacy and perceptions of top management were related to organizational collective efficacy” (Cited in Borgogni et al., 2011).
The issue which however must be examined is the design and operation of the management structure and the location and function of human resource in the organizational structure. This is critical since the relationship between management or policy makers (who are primarily the executors of those policies) and the staff, significantly impact organizational output. The conclusion which is drawn by both Boxall & Macky (2007) and Borgogni (2011) is that the way management is perceived by staff and the design of the organizational structure both influence organizational output.
The management structure in any organization is critical to the culture and functioning of the organization. There must be clearly defined lines of function and responsibility and identifiable chains of commands. If there are ambiguities and overlaps with respect to functions and responsibilities, one can expect that there will be significant tension and conflict within that organization. A useful question which must be answered therefore would be -how is the location of the human resource function in the management structure, critical to the creation of organizational stability and order?
It is against this backdrop therefore that consideration should be given to the argument put forward by Bernades et al. (2011) which indicates that Human Resource is indeed a vital component of the design of progressive management paradigms in the health care sector, particularly as it relates to nursing services.
In fact, it is further recognized that effective organizational performance depends on its staff, and as such staff must have an understanding of what participatory or collective management involves, with a clear appreciation for each person’s obligations and duties. The question which may be asked is whether there is an idyllic structure which best accommodates the human resource function within any given organization? While there is no empirical research available to offer a clear position, what is recognized however by Child is the fact that within the context of organizational structures,
“managerial hierarchy kills initiatives and crushes creativity” (2005, pp.60).
It would seem therefore that there is a shift in contemporary organizations from hierarchical bureaucracy to “flatter” structures of organization. Child argues that in actuality
“conventional hierarchy has become increasingly dysfunctional” (2005, pp.64),
due to its inability to facilitate adaptability and innovation. Consequently, the argument which is proffered by Child (2005,pp.75) is that in order to make activities more focused and ensure more effective communication throughout the organization, it is recommended that the organizational structure be simplified by removing the hierarchical structures and introduce teamwork between the various departments in the organization.