The Open Systems Structure at Texas A&M University’s Department of Human ResourcesPriscilla D. Johnson & Juan Zane CrawfordPhD Students in Educational LeadershipWhitlowe R. Green College of EducationPrairie View A&M UniversityDr. Douglas HermondOrganization Theory March 13, 20103638556906260<br />The Open Systems Structure at Texas A&M Department of Human Resources<br />Harlold Geneen once said “Every company has two organizational structures: The formal one is written on the charts; the other is the everyday relationships of the men and women in the organization” (Quotes Daddy, 2010). The predominant organizational model at Texas A&M University (TAMU) in the Human Resources (HR) department is an open systems model. An open system model such as this is one has evaluations and inputs from its environment regarding topics such as procedures, polices and communications. Supporters of this of approach deem those external relationships just as important as the internal ones. This factor fosters a relationship of inter-dependence between the organization and its constituents. Within HR, organizational management uses the concept of an open systems to construct the best organization possible. By improving hierarchal relationships, employee learning, and identifying strengths and weaknesses, business and service objectives can be enhanced. <br />The university began operating in 1876 and was marked the first public institution of higher education in the state of Texas. As a research-flagship university, it employs nearly 8,000 faculty and staff positions. The HR department serves as the hub and focal point for all matters concerning current employees, prospective employees, and college department managers.<br />The HR department recently undertook the mission of establishing goals that set the bar higher for their customer expectations. These expectations are used as template to guide the quality of service within the HR department. In addition, the HR department is “under” TAMU’s Division of Finance and serves its customers by the being reliable, responsive, accountable, and open with communications.<br />The HR department is composed of five sub units; each subunit has assistant or associate director, a manager, and operational employees.<br /><ul><li> Employee and Organizational Development
The Employee and Organizational Development (EOD) subunit serves its customers by providing professional development workshops, technology training, certificate programs, and new employee orientation.
HR Operations department consists of Classification and Compensation, Employee Relations, and Employee Assistance Program. The Classification and Compensation unit creates and reclassifies positions, initiates and completes market salary research, and provides compensation related workshops. The Employee Assistance Program provides confidential counseling to faculty and staff, crisis intervention, and professional development. Employee Relations consults employees on work-related concerns, guides on the termination process, and provides discipline guidance.
Lastly, the Benefits unit provides retirement services, leave administrations, life insurance, and COBRA administration (continuing health benefits to terminated employees at reduced rates).</li></ul>These units react differently toward the organization and towards the environment depending on their level of readiness. The EOD subunit can view procedures dictated by the Benefits Unit as cumbersome and time consuming. HR Operations is more concerned with attracting the right mix for the university rather than focusing on the end budget result. Demographics<br />Demographics play a crucial role in both open and closed systems. If allowed, the human factor can affect service outcomes, which can become unpredictable at best. As you see in figure one, whites make up the majority of HR staff, while only two employees are of other ethnicities. Of the total staff, you will see in, figure two, that women make up the majority. In light of open systems, these facts have applicable effect on the inputs, transformation process, outputs of products and services in comparison to the diversity of customers. <br />The Bureaucratic Structure<br />As a service to employees, faculty, and staff, the HR department operates under a rigorous umbrella of bureaucracy. Each subunit has a unit head, manager, and operational employees who complete specialized tasks. As Hoy and Miskel described, Max Weber’s theory of rational bureaucracy (purposed to achieve a goal through division of labor with a hierarchy of authority and responsibility) is the predominant center accomplishing mission critical objectives (2008). As in Weber’s characteristics of bureaucratic organizations, department employees on all levels experience impersonal orientation among the group and specialized training in their unit (Hoy and Miskel, 2008). Regardless of the level, hierarchal positions are each motivated differently. Their differences can often separate managers and employees, while division of labor separates operational employees. This is a cause for concern for organizational growth and employee development. <br />Division of labor and specialization<br />Subunits in the HR department primarily serve as a specialized service to employees (faculty and staff), retirees, dependents, liaisons, departments, management, potential employees, systems offices, and system members. Secondary areas of service include students, former students, and citizens of Bryan-College Station. Each subunit divides labor by service specialist. Labor is inordinately specialized and operational employees seldom learn how to do the work of other areas. For instance, in the subunit Classification & Compensation, there are two levels of specialization: Classification and Compensation Analyst and Sr. Classification and Compensation Analyst. The senior analysts create positions that are more complex. They are also given the more intricate work; in turn, this position is paid a higher salary. <br />Hierarchy of Authority <br />The Associate Vice President is the chief leader of the HR department, which includes authority over all subunits. This person ensures that the mission, goals, and all activities are completed. This is the highest paid position, which has the most responsibility in this department. This position has the opportunity to execute successful plans. Seeing these plans execute successfully, continuing employee momentum, and adding value to the HR department serve as motivational elements for this position. <br />The Director positions maintain responsibility by establishing direction, goals, and agendas. This position oversees associate or assistant directors and managers in their respective subunits. This highly compensated position has the ability to implement and reach goals, while providing effective oversight of subordinates. Being the informational expert in their unit and having the ability to lead and direct a group of specialized employees motivates this position.<br />The Executive Director plans, directs, evaluates, and reviews HR department’s operations. This position provides leadership for HR programs established for TAMU employees and students. This is another well-paid position, which also has status and is capable of successfully completing their established goals. Their ability to direct, lead, and see positive results is motivating to this position.<br />The Associate and Assistant Directors assist the Directors with establishing direction, goals, and agendas. These positions serve on the department leadership teams and oversee subunit managers. These positions are compensated on their ability to reach established goals for their subunits, improving processes, and being proactive; all of which are motivational tools.<br />Managers oversee the day-to-day activities, transactions, and job performance in their subunits. They are at the core for reaching established goals because they oversee all specialized operational employees of HR. This level of management is the voice for operational employees. This position is “sandwiched” between the pressure from directors and needs from operational employees. Money is not considered the prime motivation for this position, but rather their ability to carry out day-to-day activities successfully and meet established goals. <br />Operational employees (specialized positions) carry out the day-to-day operations of their subunit. These positions are responsible for being up to date on training in their area, satisfying customers and management, and completing work effectively, but on time. Currently this position is more intrinsically motivated. Completing their day-to-day work, being innovative, and becoming more knowledgeable in their area motivates this position. While these employees are paid below market value, they are held to the same standards of their counterparts being paid at or above market value. <br />Career Orientation<br />In the HR department, very few employees are promoted or reclassified based on their achievements. Instead, employees who have been with the organization for a long period are usually the individuals to get the promotion. There are mediocre efforts towards professional development. For instance, employees can set aside time during work to watch free webinars covering their specialization. This department is not a money-earning unit, but service oriented. Therefore, when budgets are limited; this has an adverse impact on career orientation and professional development. <br />Rules and Regulations<br />The TAMU Systems Policy & Regulations and the TAMU Rules and SAPs govern HR. These guidelines order the operation and flexibility of all HR subunits. Becoming oriented with these guidelines is an integral part of training for all staff. Because so many technical facts and concepts have to be learned, the cognitive approach to learning best suites this organization. For instance, new employees usually develop an informal mentor relationship with a current counterpart. This mentor explains, demonstrates, and guides the new employee on methods and strategies for incorporating rules and regulations in their daily tasks. In addition, some employees have created process maps and mnemonics to remember rules and regulations. According to Hoy and Miskel, these are all valuable tools for organizations whose dominant learning approach is cognitive (2008).<br />Impersonal orientation<br />The whole conjecture behind bureaucracies is that subordinates have less skill, information, and knowledge than their managers do. This postulation alone is a contributor to impersonal orientation among managers and their subordinates. This factor has a negative effect on productivity, morale, and the ability to reach goals. For instance, upper level management has weekly “leadership” meetings to discuss events and plans for the HR department. This information is rarely shared with operational employees, leaving them fearful and questionable about the status of their jobs and the department. <br />Strengths of HR<br />The strengths of the HR’s open system model reflect an organization poised to develop a deeper commitment towards inclusion at every level. This involves interacting with their external environment, to include political leaders, economic forecasters, societal and technological forces. Through channels such as marketing and communication, websites, and social network ventures, HR exchanges feedback in order to adjust processes to reach goals. They are most affective in the Policy and Practice Review subunit. This is accomplished through a well-trained staff able to keep up-to-date on every new development and issue in their area. This unit is very efficient when working together as a team. In addition, managers are open to ideas and issues that affect their unit. Throughout, HR upper level management is able to report information from leadership and staff meetings. Instead of using monetarily rewards, they are able to us flexible scheduling, comp time, administrative leave, and service awards to motivate employees. The areas that can be further strengthened are Classification and Compensation, data reporting, and recruitment. The HR department can strengthen Classification and Compensation by creating a more structured pay system. Data reporting should be utilized to received feedback from the external environment. Recruitment can then provide workshops for prospective employees in the areas of resume writing and interviewing skills. Customers become an integral factor here because by improving customer service through feedback from surveys, HR is given a more direct feel for how it affects its environment and ways it can transform to produce better services.<br />Weaknesses of HR<br />The TAMU HR department is not without its faults. The areas requiring the most attention come from the fact that the university is missing the boat on several key opportunities. First, more attention needs to be given to recruiting a more diverse group of faculty, staff, and students. This can be accomplished by a more thorough scanning of their environment, researching the application pool, and evaluating hiring practices of successfully diverse flagship universities. In today’s racially diverse climate, it is biased to favor one ethnicity over another. Next, the overall budget requires better management. HR receives funds from the university, which receives some funds from the state. Hoy and Miskel mentioned that open systems are dependent on their environment (2008). In this case, the environment is the funding source, which is currently limited and is in the process of being slashed. Finally, there needs to be a more formal recognition program. Identifying the need for and developing a formal recognition program is a concern echoed through the different units within the HR department. In addition to being under staffed, the Recruitment, Benefits, and HR Operations subunits need to better train both new and current employees and have better professional development opportunities. The lack of adequate compensation causes stress, and leaves employees with a lack of motivation and initiative. Employees have low morale, as they do not feel appreciated. This lack of motivation has drastically decreased productivity. Employees have little initiative because they feel they will not be recognized in any form. <br />This System can be Improved<br />The TAMU HR department is an advantaged unit. According to Hoy and Miskel, if they make the most their assets, the organization can be improved (2008). Management can target specific area assets to foster better working relationships among units. First, they can develop training designed to teach employees how to work better among subunits. This will shift the mindset that everyone comes to the table with the same interpersonal skill set. Studies have shown this to be an inadequate assumption. By developing training plans tailored to identify gaps between each unit and the overall university, they would be able to identify crossing train opportunities and identify deficient competencies. Next, a deeper examination of the current pay scale and budgets must be accomplished. This will identify areas that can be monetarily streamlined. The savings can go towards bringing current salaries up to current economic baselines. They cannot continue paying Presidents hundreds of thousands of dollars while operational employees are barley given cost of living increases. Next, management can receive help from the environment. Management does not fully utilize the environment to tap into motivation or recognition tools. They can better use the environment to foster an ideal level of commitment to employees at every level in these two areas. Finally, communication must be improved, not just between units but also, between different campuses. They should share good news and bad news, goals and strategies. They can meet with different campuses and partner together to create goals and problem solve. Problems faced in the HR department at one campus might have already been solved at another campus. Without communication, this will never be known. For use as criticism of open system model: within open systems, there is a strong tendency to assume by analogy, which can create misconceptions. Assumptions tend to be more theoretical and often merely reliable outdated ideas, disguised in new vocabulary. Service oriented goals simply cannot be met with this mentality. <br />In conclusion, as an open system, HR’s critical missions are constantly under scrutiny and development by its internal and external environment. To say the least, this is not a red flag or cause for alarm, instead HR can utilize their external constituents to improve their processes so that service expectation can always be met. We know this is a required action and is vital to creating organizational equilibrium (Hoy and Miskel, 2008). At the end of the day, success is measured by their ability to meet the needs of customers. These needs are met by constant oversight and evaluation by upper management. In order for this process to improve, employees (on all levels) not only need recognition and professional development, but open communication from upper level management. In addition, the dominant cognitive approach to learning is beneficial to include in technical training for current and new employees. HR has weaknesses, including a strong bureaucratic atmosphere, which has hindered growth. By maximizing their strengths and assets, they have the potential to make needed improvements. These are requirements for all open systems and will ultimately be the key to this organization’s survival in such a dynamic, changing environment. <br /> <br />References<br />Hoy, W. & Miskel, C. (2008). Educational Administration: Theory, research, and practice (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. <br />Quotes Daddy (2010). Structure Quotes. Quotes Daddy. Retrieved March 9, 2010 from http://www.quotesdaddy.com/tag/Structure/2<br />Appendix A<br />Texas A&M University Human Resources Organizational Chart<br />