Human resource management is more than just procuring health plans and cutting paychecks. Strategic human resource management looks at the organization as a whole to identify what sets it apart, and how it can be made better. One of the tools used to do this is the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis. This looks at the organization, where it needs to improve, what should stay the same and the steps necessary to make improvements without affecting what makes the organization a success.
1. Strategic human resource management focuses on the larger, organizational picture and its strategic goals to address both short term and long-term consequences and actions. The organization I work for provides residential and day programs to the developmentally disabled adults who are our clients. We also work closely with their families to care not only for our clients physically, but also to help educate them and help them develop into stronger, more self-sufficient individuals as well. To help work out how this can be done I did an analysis that looks at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT). A list of items for each SWOT factor, along with my reason for selecting it and what effect it may have on the long-term mission and goals of the organization follows
Our organization has the benefit of close communication between all staff and administrators. We are highly effective in coordinating our programs so that our clients can benefit from interrelated educational opportunities, and interface between our residential and day programs for developmentally disabled adults. There is legislation pending to change support to programs to help Social Security Beneficiaries work. . Because there are so many educated unemployed people other organizations with greater staff turnover might be seen are more deserving of support.
Looking at this analysis, we play on our program strengths to teach our clients more “hands on” experiences we can also get community people involved as guests at our school, especially in connection with local events. This would give a double benefit. It would tie in our lessons with the community and it could provide an impressive roster of expert speakers that compliment the varying levels of education of our staff. Web sites like the one sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte advocate the use of lesson plans that help students learn new self-determination skills as part of their ongoing lessons. . We have incorporated some of these self-determination skills into our ongoing lesson plans so that not only do our clients make short term, visible progress, they also have the foundations they need to live richer fuller lives.
NYSARC has a Legislative Advocate Network (LAN) to keep people who work with intellectual and developmentally disabled adults and children apprised of key federal and state legislation and programs. They worked for acceptance of Federal legislation like the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. On a regional level, they successfully lobbied for a separate Office of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities and the Health Care Decisions Act for Persons with Mental Retardation. . There is legislation pending, of which they are helping us all keep abreast of, that might influence how nonprofits like ours receive funds to help educate developmentally disabled persons transition into employment positions.. This may offer greater opportunities to receive grants, or it might have a negative effect on our funding that we may have to try to make up from other sources. In any event, it will change a portion of our administrative grant-writing program and is something we are actively tracking.
2. The SWAT Analysis showed that one of the ways we favorably differentiate ourselves from other care facilities for learning disabled adults is the excellence of our programs. Our staff can develop these programs because they work closely with each other, our clients’ family groups and our administration staff to develop long-range lesson plans and programs that interact with each other. Although our clients are adults, being engaged in learning and self- development is still vital. The tendency is to look at a developmentally disabled adult as having reached their maximum potential. This is untrue, like all of us; a developmentally disabled adult can continue to learn something new every day. We have found that giving them the respect of a structured education system fosters greater self-respect and provides the impetus that encourages them to pursue this kind of personal growth. However, to be effective and helpful we must provide this learning plan in the framework of a rhythmic regulated day. This allows us to give our clients the opportunity to develop consistency throughout the day. Everyone benefits from having a comfortable daily schedule, when working with developmentally disabled individuals this is a top priority. Unfortunately, this can also be a drawback because it discourages spontaneity.
Therefore, we need to work hard to strike a balance between a structured teaching plan and the ability to introduce new elements as they develop, instead of our current procedure of working them into long-range plans. Incorporating local events and outside learning opportunities would further enrich our client’s lives, particularly for those people in our resident program. However, these events are frequently not planned far in advance and just the logistics involved can absorb considerable staff time. Although difficult it can be done, but it is further complicated by the absolute needs of many of our clients for predictability. They all function at their best when they know exactly what to expect in advance. The daily routine is very important and we have all worked hard to give them a comforting stable environment. However, we also need to teach that some change is good. The key is to introduce it slowly, or to plan for events. Seasonal events and holidays are marked out and discussed. Depending on the client’s individual development level, they participate in learning about what is expected and may participate in creating and hanging decorations for upcoming holidays.
Food and menus are another thing we talk about and experience, especially locally grown foods that demonstrate cycles. The first local tomatoes, corn and apples are an example. This works best with our resident clients, but it is something that can be observed at lunchtime and discussed afterwards. This affords our clients the opportunity to adjust to monthly, seasonal and annual cycles along with their daily routines. All of this is part of what sets us apart from other support facilities for individuals with developmental difficulties.
3. Because we are working with the developmentally disabled, it is especially difficult for the staff to bring the technology revolution into our workplace. As is pointed out in Workforce 2020, rapid technology change is The Seminal Force. Yet within the scope of your current organization, stability and regularity are the key words. This means that our staff needs to keep up to date on technology without making too many visible changes that may disturb our clients. On the other hand, their families expect us to use the latest technology to keep them up to date on what is happening here. Using Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and voicemail are all part of our staffs education. However, depending on our clients’ developmental levels introducing them into the classroom is another thing altogether.
The Internet has proven particularly valuable in helping us keep up to date and informed on new information on how best to help developmentally disabled adults. The Association of University Centers on Disabilities maintains a site that not only provides valuable information and webinars on how to help our clients it also has brochures, and other information to help educate their families and the general public about people with disabilities. We do not just “baby sit” disabled people, we work hard to help them keep developing in their personal lives. Although adults, many of them are still learning skills that are more commonly associated with younger people, this is part of being developmentally disabled. Keeping up with new information, being able to share successes and failures with our peers in other communities is invaluable when it comes to doing the best for our own clients.
Another great asset that the Internet affords is the ability for our clients’ families to connect with other families who are experiencing or who have gone through similar experiences. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes on line resources and support groups as one of its primary care giving tips. . Even institutions like churches and other local support groups usually have Internet access and support as well. Chat groups and other web based messaging systems allow people to connect with each other without leaving home. This can prove invaluable for the family members who provide evening care for our clients in the day programs. While they cannot physically leave the developmentally disabled relative at home alone while they go to a meeting, they can still connect via the Internet. This assures them they are not alone in this; there are other people, other families who are going through the same thing, or maybe worse.
Updating to new software or even a new version of a software suite provides more challenges for the staff. It takes more technological understanding to introduce some of these elements gradually than to simply make a full transition. For example, client work sheets, lessons and information pages need to be laid out in the same predictable formant, even as the staff is transitioning into a new software version. This is harder than just changing everything to be compatible with the new technological format that is the default version and needs no addition configuration to use. Therefore, when we made the transition to the new Microsoft Suite versions the staff needed to participate in education programs to allow them to produce class work that looked similar to that which our clients were accustomed.
This was harder than simply importing the existing documents into the newly installed software. If this visible day-to-day work product could have been produced using the new system defaults it would have only taken about an hour for the new software to configure the existing class work into the system defaults. However, because many of our clients get disturbed by sudden transitions it was important that we phased in any format transitions. This meant that we needed to know the system thoroughly before we could transition any work product that our clients handled or completed. In the long run advances in technology have had a positive effect on the working environment, staff, and human resources - and as we all know strategic human resource management focuses on the larger, organizational picture.
AUCD. (2012). AUCD. Retrieved 07 16, 2012, from Association of University Centers on Disabilities: http://www.aucd.org/template/index.cfm
CDC. (2012). Families with Special Needs: Caregiving Tips. Retrieved 07 16, 2012, from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/family/specialneeds/
SDSP/UNCC. (2012). Self-Determination Lesson Plan Starters. Retrieved 07 16, 2012, from University of North Carolina at Charlotte: http://sdsp.uncc.edu/sd_lesson_plans.asp
The ARC. (2012). New York State Legislative Action Center (NYSARC). Retrieved 07 16, 2012, from NYSARC/ARC: http://capwiz.com/thearc/state/main/?state=NY