Of the seven examination categories (otherwise known as the seven pillars of Baldrige) Human Resources Development and Management ranks third-highest in point value, having a total of 150 out of 1,000 possible points. Human resources clearly has a role to play in all seven categories, however. Such activities as training and development, for example, can influence such categories as Leadership, Strategic Quality Planning, and Customer Focus and Satisfaction.
Christopher Hart, president of the TQM Group in Boston, says that he believes that the Baldrige award criteria are an appropriate starting point for any organization embarking on TQM. Why? "Because the Baldrige framework was designed specifically for flexibility," he explains, "so it could be used to assess the quality efforts and systems of any type or size firm."
When evaluating the HR function, Baldrige judges examine how companies enable the work force to develop to its full potential. In doing so, they ask companies to describe their approaches and provide proof of positive results in the following categories:
- HR Planning and Management.
- Employee Involvement.
- Employee Education and Training.
- Employee Performance and Recognition.
- Employee Well-being and Satisfaction.
How are the firms' overall HR plans and practices integrated with their overall performance goals, and how does HR address the needs and development of the entire work force?
What are the means available for workers to contribute effectively to meeting the companies' performance goals and plans?
How do organizations determine what kind of education and training employees need, and how does the training support organization plans and employee growth?
How do the companies' employee-performance, recognition, promotion, compensation, reward and feedback approaches support the attainment of the companies' quality goals?
How do the companies maintain a work environment conducive to the well-being and growth of all workers?
In conducting an independent assessment of HR using the Baldrige criteria, Hart recommends that professionals adopt the perspective that HR is an independent contractor serving the organization. "This will help you come up with a more objective answer to the question, 'How well are we really doing in satisfying our customers?'" Hart explains.
The award's emphasis on HR activities not only clarifies the role of HR in quality efforts. According to Hart, it also can help professionals make the case for a better allocation of corporate resources to the HR function.
Personnel Journal, August 1993, Vol. 72, No.8, p. 48J.