In such diverse fields as space research, information processing, economics, medicine, and law enforcement, it is currently popular to take a “systems approach” to situations and problems. Specialists have shown that the best results are obtained when interrelated and coordinated elements are dealt with as a system rather than as single, independent elements. However, few organizations apply a systems approach to human resource activities, even though there is evidence that such an approach is effective. Many organizations have human resource training programs that encourage action in one direction and a compensation system that encourages action in another. They often have career planning or succession planning programs that don’t fit with performance management or training programs. It is also common for organizations to use one set of criteria for reviewing performance in a job and a different set for selecting employees into the job.
Taking a systems approach to human resource activities results in human resource management that is far more effective and costs the organization less. Programs that are part of a system reinforce each other. Each is made better by the contributions of the others; needless overlaps and contradictions in goals or procedures are eliminated. Because all parts of the system are built on common elements, training costs decrease and managers learn each new element more quickly. Even the image of the human resources department is improved. It is seen as having defined goals and an organized program to meet them.
This monograph will explore the advantages of applying a systems approach to various human resource activities. First, we will show how all human resource activities can be organized within two systems. Second, we will examine the benefits of a dimension-/competency-based systems approach that interlocks many individual activities, such as selection, training, and performance management. Third, we will look at how a systems approach results in more accurate and reliable interviews, assessment centers, performance reviews, career planning, and succession planning and describe the training necessary to implement this approach. An important focus of this monograph will be the methodology and documentation required to make programs and systems job related and thus acceptable to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the United States and government regulations in many other countries.