This topic is timely as the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) Nigeria marks its golden jubilee. The human resource management (HRM) profession in Nigeria is an evolving one—though not perfect, it is promising. Regardless of the promise the profession holds, there is still a lot of room for improvement. I will offer a few ideas on how HRM practice in Nigeria can be standardized.
First, I think CIPM is doing a great job by preparing aspiring HRM professionals with instructional training prior to being certified. Beyond instructional training, there should be insightful practical sessions embedded in the professional training. Practical sessions make concepts and theories come alive as well as deepen the insights of students. Workforce planning, recruitment and selection, performance management, training and development et cetera remain abstract until they have been experienced. Practical experience could be gained (before proper employment) through internships, audio-visual sessions et cetera that depict best practices in these different domains.
Second, there is need for more robust laws on employment and related matters. This is very crucial because it guarantees fair play in practice. It guarantees protection of rights of all involved in the employment dynamics. While the laws we have are better than not having any, there is need for lots of improvement. As the world of work evolves so should the laws (that regulate engagement of actors etc.) be reviewed and amended to capture present realities.
Third, the need for regular research on HRM issues cannot be overemphasized. Research offers opportunities to have deep insights into issues. With such insights, ideas on how to improve standards of practice are birthed. Rule of thumb, though convenient, can never be a substitute for theory which is an integral part of research. HRM professionals must bear in mind that work experience, no matter how vast, is not theory.
Fourth, I think CIPM needs to have regular engagements with employers through their associations. This is very important because some of the challenges faced by professionals in practice stem from the unwillingness of employers to uphold best practice despite recommendations offered. The power distance that exists between HRM professionals (who can only advise) and employers (who have reward power as well as the prerogative to make final decisions) is a yawning one. Employers should be made to see the financial and non-financial benefits of accepting some of these recommendations. This might seem a herculean task but it is worth trying.
Fifth, the need for licensing or better put, licensed practice cannot be overemphasized. If standards will have to be maintained then it is important to ensure that only licensed individuals are allowed to practice. That said, I know this is almost impossible because Nigeria is every so often bedeviled with challenges of implementation. Regardless of this challenge, CIPM should endeavour to liaise with other regulatory bodies to see how this can be achieved. If this challenge can be addressed, licensed practice would also imply recognition for professionals who uphold the standards of the profession and sanctions for defaulters.
Sixth, there is need for indigenous texts on HRM practice. Business across the globe is heavily influenced by context. This, among other things, would explain the nuances of business operations of same company across branches domiciled in different geographical locations. Since HRM as a profession is geared towards advancing business objectives (through humans), it is only fitting to craft texts that capture the dynamics of doing business in Nigeria and how HRM practice can be seamlessly and strategically aligned without compromising the ideals of the profession. While acknowledging reality we can still strive for ideals.
Seventh, the curriculum of higher institutions of learning would need to be periodically updated to capture the emerging issues in the profession. This is paramount because it will deepen the insights of students as well as equip them well to get off to a good start when employed. Also, HRM scholars in higher institutions of learning, should engage in consulting activities in order to stay abreast with burning issues in organizations, industries and the labour market as it pertains to HRM practice. Students cannot be properly equipped for the world of work if those who teach them do not have any professional engagement outside classrooms. Consulting activities should partly inform decisions on areas to conduct research as well as shape content of and approach(es) to lectures while findings from research should partly inform solutions proffered to organizational problems. This is how practice and research reinforce each other to deepen insights which consequently informs the need and ways to improve standards.
From the ideas offered above, it is crystal clear that standardizing the practice of HRM in Nigeria should be done holistically. A holistic approach acknowledges complexities which is a better way to approximate closer to underlying issues. Acknowledging these complexities and addressing them will help us move towards standardizing the HRM practice in Nigeria insofar as we stay committed to the cause come rain or shine.
Tags: HRM practice in Nigeria