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Human Resource Management Practice at the Trinidad & Tobago Ministry of Education

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Module Title: Human Resource Management Practice at the Trinidad & Tobago Ministry of Education  

Academic Year: 2009/10 Semester: One


Consider an organization that you are familiar with, & with reference to Associated theory & practice, critically assess the approach that is taken to Strategic HRM. Evaluate the extent to which that approach has contributed to Organizational effectiveness.

Word Limit: 4000 words

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction

1.1 Background to Organization

  1. Definitions
  2. Strategic Direction of MOE
  1. 3.1 Analysis of the Organization
  2. 3.2 Strategic Fit
  3. 3.3 Two Types of Fit
  4. 3.4 Culture
  5. 3.5 Leadership
  6. 3.6 Performance Management
  7. 3.7 Change Management
  8. 4. Evaluation of SHRM Approach
  9. 5.Recommendations
  1. Conclusion



1. Introduction

This paper sets out to analyze the approach taken to strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) at the Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago, hereafter called MOE, with a view to understanding their strategic goals as defined in its vision and mission statements in table 1.1. The researcher will assess the current strategic position of MOE and analyze the challenges facing the organization. Recommendations will be made to improve organizational effectiveness in keeping with the SHRM goals of MOE.

See table 1.1

Vision of MOE

To provide, maintain and sustain an education system that continuously develops imaginative, innovative, intellectual and spirited learners who will facilitate the creation of committed and enterprising citizens and global leaders.

Mission of MOE

To lay the highest quality foundation for education that will create and build the human capital necessary for national growth and development

1.1 Background of Organization

The Ministry of Education of Trinidad and Tobago (MOE) is geared towards providing education for the nation. At present, MOE is positioned to implement change, by reengineering detailed change in their processes and IT implementation. In addition, MOE has determined that there is a need for some form of decentralization of its operations to the Educational Districts. This will be geared towards improving organizational performance, facilitate better management of schools and achieve a higher level of effectiveness throughout the broader educational system.

Staff efficiency and organizational effectiveness is a growing problem for MOE and the entire public sector, this is critical to an organization which promotes the educationalsystems for the nation of Trinidad and Tobago. In November 1996 (Internal staff Memo MOE), The Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister and Head of Public Service Authorities mandated all public sector organizations to implement a new performance appraisal systems, in keeping with the Vision 2020 objectives of the nation. This system was designed to place new emphasis on standards of performance within the public service. The system is part of the components that construct the foundations of SHRM within MOE. There are several other initiatives/strategies that have been crafted to add value to the strategic lens of the organization.

2. Definitions

Human Resource Management (HRM) is concerned with the way in whichorganizations manage their people (Redman and Wilkinson 2001, pg 1). ... However, much of this is criticized for working in theory but not in practice, HRM plays a significant role as they provide the tools and techniques for organizational development and growth, with performance appraisal as a central part of the human resource cycle.  (Fombrum et al 1984)

The Human Resource Cycle:image00.png


Source:  Fombrun et al (1984)image06.png






       Selection                      Performance                Appraisalimage12.pngimage11.png





Werner and DeSimone (2006, p.10) defined HRD as “a set of systematic and planned activities designed by an organization to provide its members with the necessary skills to meet current and future job demands”.  It is a function of human resource management which encompasses learning and development, organizational development (OD) and career development (Werner and DeSiome 2006).  Strategic HRM or SHRM can be defined as the process of linking the human resource functions with the strategic objectives of the organization in order to improve performance, or in other terms, to improve organizational effectiveness.

According to DeSimone (2006), Organizational effectiveness is the concept of how effective an organization is in achieving the outcomes the organization intends to produce. In other words, how well they use what their resources to accomplish their goals, vision and mission.

An organization's effectiveness is also dependent on its communicative competence and ethics. The relationship between these three is simultaneous. Ethics is a foundation found within organizational effectiveness. An organization must exemplify respect, honesty, integrity and equity to allow communicative competence with the participating members. Along with ethics and communicative competence, members in that particular group can finally achieve their intended goals.

3. 0 Analysis of MOE

In analyzing MOE the researcher chooses to use the PEST as the tool for external analysis and McKinsey’s 7’S to analyze MOE’S internal resources. In so doing, the research can easily identify if the soft and hard elements of MOE are properly alignment to match the opportunities and threats of the external environment.

A PEST analysis ( Porter, 1986) is used to give an external analysis of MOE.

Political /Legal – Government leadership promotes good local, regional and international relationships, which promotes a positive environment for the education sector. Workers rights – productivity is affected by the influence of Unions negotiating for more benefits on behalf of the workforce. Unions provide the “voice of the people” and works as a mediator between government and the workforce of the public and private sectors.

Economic- The global economic  downturn has not severely affected      Trinidad and Tobago, as the education sector continues to support the nation in spite of challenges. MOE has also embarked on plans for decentralization of its Head Office operations to ensure they are able to meet the needs of their customers and stakeholders.

Social – The crime situation is critical in Trinidad and Tobago. The effect  has caused many schools to ask parents to raise funds to improve security for both teachers and children, increased security measures  is also an additional cost to Government, as salaries for security officers have now risen and there is now a need for high technology security features to be installed throughout the nation.  

Technological – The wider IT plan for Government and public sector reform is part of our nation’s 2020 Vision. However, MOE has weak communications both internally and externally and although it is now treated as a priority, it remains a weakness that cripples every area of the organization.

Internal Analysis


Using the McKinsey’s 7S model the internal analysis of MOE is outlined:

Strategy:  The strategy of a Decentralized MOE and keeping its Vision and Mission “To lay the highest quality foundation for education that will create and build the human capital necessary for national growth and development” requires recommitment of staff for the organization to be able to develop to its full potential.

Style: The Leadership style is autocratic, this could lead sectors of the workforce not “buying into the strategy” – Because the relevant information does not sometimes flow from down to the staff. Yet again, employee involvement is lacking in several areas, and this is directly due to the poor leadership style of the organization.

Staff: Staff Morale is low – because the communication plan is weak, and because of the number of sub-cultures that exist. Because of the rigidity of the structure, we emerge with the different SBU’S competing against each other for resources. The limited resources are staff, money and equipment.

Structure: There is a clearly established structure, Finance, General Administration, IT, HR, and School Based Management. Because of the hierarchical structure upper management is sometimes aloof to the needs of the lower staff.

Systems: There are strong informal systems where tasks have been learnt over a period of time, HR is moving quickly to provide SOP’S (Standard operating procedures) in place. There is weak IT infrastructure to support and interlink the different sections of the organization.

Thompson and Martin (2005) referred to key success factors as those environmental factors which an organization must be able to do efficiently and which are critical for achieving competitiveness. However, Johnson and Scholes (2008, p 79), opined that “critical success factors are those product features that are particularly valued by a group of customers and, therefore, where the organisation must excel to outperform competition”.

3.2  Strategic Fit

Strategic fit is the extent to which the activities of a single organization or of organizations working in partnership complement each other in such a way as to contribute to competitive advantage. The benefits of good strategic fit include cost reduction, due to economies of scale, and the transfer of knowledge and skills. Fombrun et al (1984), Guest (1989), postulates that Strategic HRM has specific HR outcomes that can affect organizational outputs either negatively or positively.

Organizations aspiring to maintain sustainability, profitability and competitive advantage need to be mindful of forces within their environment from a holistic perspective and create strategies to support the robustness and uncertainty of the external environment whilst harnessing the capabilities of the internal environment, an activity which Mintzberg (1987) referred to as ‘crafting strategy’ A SWOT condenses the findings of both internal and external findings.

Table 3.1


Experienced staff

Major provider of education in Trinidad and Tobago, thus having government commitment


Culture – “mindset of the public sector”

Poor communication structure

Poor filing systems

Lack of updated IT

Leadership Style


Technology provides great opportunities to provide improve internal and external communication networks.


Less money allocated to implement strategies for change

High staff turnover as a result of low staff morale

Initiatives to educate staff can result in “brain drain” as staff will leave organization to use newly developed skills and knowledge if no opportunities are available.

3.3 Two Types of Fit

As a fundamental characteristic of SHRM, fit denotes the utilization of human resources to help with the achievement of organizational goals. According to Wright and McMahan (1992: 298), fit means "... the pattern of planned human resource deployments and activities intended to enable the firm to achieve its goal.". Scholars suggest that there are two kinds of fit: horizontal fit and vertical fit. Horizontal fit refers to the congruence among the various HRM practices (Baird & Meshoulam 1988), and vertical fit refers to the alignment of HRM practice with the strategic management process of the firm (Schuler & Jackson 1987).

In general, vertical fit is viewed as a critical step toward attaining the organizational goals through initiating some human resource activities that are aligned with firm objectives, while horizontal fit is essential when making good use of these resources. In other words, strategic HRM is more concerned with horizontal fit, as it refers to the congruence among all the HRM practices within MOE. The alignment between HRM practices and strategy ( strategic fit), is determined by the alignment of HR practices with each other such that they form a consistent HR system (internal fit) that support the strategic structure of MOE’s Vision an mission.

MOE’S present SHRM policies and practices does not reflect proper alignment or strategic fit, the following details will emphasize some of the areas which require improvement and realignment.

3.4 Culture

Academic writers see culture as playing a significant role in the change process, as it is the silent force which shapes the values, norms, attitudes and beliefs that moulds and direct the behaviors of those within the organization (Armstrong,2007.).  These views suggest that organizational culture is an essential element to organizational life, which not just drives behaviours, but also establishes systems through which organizational objectives are achieved.  Culture drives performance and organizational systems.  Therefore, if culture guides behaviours it is reasonable to accept that culture is a pivotal role in the change process which binds individuals together towards a new paradigm.  

It appears that MOE’S present culture no longer meet the needs of the organization, and stakeholders.  Thompson and Martin (2005) stressed that strategy and culture must be aligned to ensure success, which must be supported by strong leadership and vision. Given MOE’S transformation initiative, the organization now needs to develop a culture which would stimulate positive behaviours consistent with high ethical to supports efficiency and organizational effectiveness.

3.5 Leadership

Change is an unsettling process therefore; systems must be in place to manage the individual and organizational dynamics associated with change (Walton, 1999).(Armstrong 2007; Lynch 2009), suggest that any transformation is usually led by top management within an organization and identified transformational leaders are those who are best suited to lead change.Yukl (2006), on the other hand see leading any change as one of the most difficult leadership responsibilities and suggests that anyone in an organization can initiate change or contribute to its success.  

 Leadership is the process of influencing an organization or those within, towards achieving their goals and objectives (Johnson and Scholes, 2009).   The behavioral style adopted by leaders is important to the successful implementation of change (Mullins, 2006) therefore, effective leadership is critical to facilitate adaptation to a changing environment and also in understanding people issues. If MOE is expected to have a smooth transition during the change process caused by decentralization, Leaders may need to adapt a more participative approach, and use cultural interventions to encourage employee involvement and commitment.

3.6 Performance Appraisal and Performance Management

Performance appraisal is “one way of giving employees feedback about their work”. (Foot, Margaret, Hook, Caroline, Introducing Human Resource Management, Third Edition, 2002.) Performance appraisal is the feedback process which individual workers are shown how their performance matches the company’s goals and weather it measures up to company’s standards. It also lets the company know of the individual’s strengths and how this may contribute to the company.

Performance Management is a much broader concept than performance appraisal. It can be defined as “a proactive partnership between employees and management that helps employees perform at their best and align theirgoals, values and initiatives of the organization”. (Cadwell, M.C Performance Management Manual, American Management Association, 2000.) Aligning organizational objectives with individual objectives makes employees aware of their contribution to the success of the organization. This strategy provides employees with a sense of belonging and therefore encourages them to perform well since they understand how their actions affect the organization.

Job performance and job evaluation are two very important factors at play within the role of SHRM, of any organization, in the development of an effective workforce and to obtain maximum organizational effectiveness. Job performance is concerned with the actual output both quality and quantity of the employees, whilst performance/job evaluation is the determination of measurement of an individual’s performance by one or more members of the organization. MOE ‘S SHRM should include factors to improve employee feedback and especially to ensure effective use of the performance appraisal system, thus fulfilling the role or the performance management objectives.

3.7  Communication and Employee Involvement

There are many definitions and dimensions to the topic of communication, according to Schiffman and Kanuk (2004):“communication is the transmission of a message from a sender to a receiver via a medium (or channel) of transmission….. “there are four basic components – the sender, the receiver, medium, and message- the fifth essential component of communication is feedback”

Communication in our daily lives is an integral part of our very existence. The importance of which cannot and should not be underrated in its value in the workplace. Performance appraisals should be used as the ideal opportunity to communicate and reinforce to staff the importance of the relevant job under review and how the staff contributes to the company by fulfilling this particular task. It can also be used as an opportunity to encourage, re-visit or evaluate the long term goals of the worker/employee and how this goal aligns with the goals of the organization.

According to Yuk Lan Wong and Robin Stanley Snell. (Employee Workplace Effectiveness. Journal of General Management. Vol 29 No. 2 Winter 2003) they underscore the importance of open communication by saying:

Regular informal meetings and discussion sessions between the appraiser and appraise are also desirable to enable both parties to develop a shared understanding and genuine appreciation of employees less visible virtues”.

In other words, it is important for regular interaction and good communication between employee and employer or supervisor, so as to give the person in charge a look at the strengths ( or weaknesses) of the employee whose performance is under review. More importantly, the employee should have a clearly defined picture of his her job functions and responsibilities in the workplace. In doing so, the employee knows exactly what is expected of him/her, and can work towards improvement until other training opportunities are available.

Employee development is also another objective of performance management tools. Armstrong (2001) supports this by explaining that organizations seeking competitive advantage through the adoption of a positive training philosophy “recognize that actual or potential skills shortages can threaten future prosperity and growth”. Armstrong suggests that organizations should commit to the continuous development of the skills and abilities of employees. In contrast, theorists such as Mumford (1994) and Peddler et al (1989) suggested self managed learning in which the individual assessed, diagnosed, implemented and monitored a plan for self development.

The Writer supports Armstrong’s positive training philosophy, as the challenge at RBTT Bank Limited, is to make training pertinent to the job, and to assist in creating a career path for employees so that they may be able to satisfy their higher level needs and create a climate which is conducive to feedback, consultation and guidance.

3.8 Change Management

For effective management of change, Johnson and Scholes (2008) postulated that change agent/s who can be an individual or group, should be appointed to manage change, and according to Burnes (2006), has a  responsibility for ensuring that changes take place.   However, there seems to be no clearly defined competencies or skills which change agents must posses. Rather, there seems to be a general consensus by academic researchers such as Buchanan and Boody (1992), that there are no ‘best fit’,  rather, change agents must be guided by the specific context of their environment, Johnson and Scholes (ibid), and be creative in resolving the complexities of the challenges which may hinder their efforts.

MOE’S new strategy for Decentralization should allow its leaders to look at effective change management strategies and allocate a team from within the organization to prepare the staff for change and to ensure they are commitment to the success expected by the change process.

4. Evaluation of SHRM

Before the researcher can recommend what type of fit is necessary at MOE, an evaluation of the SHRM is necessary to identify the gaps that impede the organizational effectiveness. According to Thompson (2001) strategies should be formulated that fully encompass the business environment, organization values and organization resources. Thompson (Op cit), calls this EVR congruence, a congruence in which there is a clear match between the demands of the business environment (opportunities and threats), and demands of the internal environment (strengths and weakness).

The internal factors consist of the organization’s values, management culture, organization’s resources, skills competencies and capabilities.


Wright, P. M. & McMahan, G. C. 1992. Theoretical perspectives for strategic human resource management. Journal of Management, 18 (2): 295-320.

Strategic Human Resource Management, Randall Schuler and. Susan Jackson (eds), Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1999, 699 pp,. ISBN 0631216006 (hardback) £55, ...

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