What’s the Secret to Ageing Well?

How many amazing photographs have we seen of late of older celebrities who look stunning? Joan Collins, Sharon Stone, Jane Fonda and even Her Majesty the Queen are all great examples of high-profile females who are turning the notion of twinsets, pearls and tight perms firmly on its head by looking incredible whilst being busy and continuing to achieve great things in later life.Male celebrities too are also out pushing boundaries, whilst there are regularly items in the news of older people enjoying adventurous lives. Many are studying, working, travelling and treating later life as opportunity to change path and enjoy a great time. Many of us are happy to forgo the rocking chairs as middle age gets pushed back yet another decade.Whilst we many not be privy to the financial clout or lifestyle choices of wealthy celebrities or have the genetic advantage of good looks and bone structure there are still ways we can improve our quality of life and enjoy ageing well.- Our hair style can date us. It may be an easy option to check in with the same hairdresser every time; after all, they know us so well, won’t make any regrettable errors and are convenient. But sometimes visiting another stylist can result in them seeing us in a very different way and suggesting a change in style or colour, giving our image a complete overhaul. It’s no bad thing to sometimes be seen by a fresh pair of eyes.


Advice from experts for women includes avoiding wearing hair too long or adopting solid or sharp lines, thus supporting a softer look. For men, maintaining smart, fashionable grooming helps you look years younger and feel better about yourself.- Exercise is important at any age. While we may not aim to be as energetic as we were when young, exercise in later years is almost more important. Be alert to the risk of leading too sedentary a life and consider a regular brisk thirty-minute walk as a valuable way to get some fresh air. It costs nothing and could tie in with spending pleasant time with your partner, family or friends, chatting about your days, investing in your relationships.Investigate over-50′s classes run by many local leisure centres. There may be Pilates or yoga available to attend, which also provides opportunities to socialise regularly with others. Or incorporate some exercise and stretching into your domestic routine or consider a personal trainer.- Diet and eating healthily helps manage the ageing process. It’s sensible to avoid processed foods, sugar and excess alcohol, to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated as well as eat lots of fresh green vegetables, fruit and wholegrains. All are ways to invest in good internal and external health, so helping you to age well.- Your dress style reflects your age. Keeping up-to-date with the latest fashions and trends enables you to be stylish, smart and attractive without adopting any extreme fashion trends. Many older women prefer to cover their arms and neck areas. The artful use of scarves and accessories can achieve this whilst providing an elegant, distinctive look.Whilst older men may move away from daily uniforms or business suits and dress more casually, it can be ageing to regularly dress in track suits and trainers. Get into the habit of wearing a smart-casual look, comfortable but not scruffy.


- A younger mindset means letting go of limiting beliefs, being realistic but not saying ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’ too often. Learn to deal with any stressors in your life, pace yourself, but also look forward with enthusiasm to opportunities that come along. Remember, if you choose to say ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t’ – either way you’re correct. Outlook and perspective is the key. Have a ‘yes, why not’ mentality and remember, this is your time to try new things.- Future plans should be motivational, whilst not being too daunting or stressful. Choose to leave your comfort zone from time to time and keep life interesting and exciting. It’s good to stretch yourself a little, but not lie awake fretting about things you’ve agreed to do. You could take a course just for fun, volunteer, do some consultancy work, start a small business from home or accept a part-time job.The secret to ageing well is to enjoy life on your terms. Take good care of your health and focus on living life well!

Records Management in Government Agencies in Sierra Leone

Introduction

Records Management is the systematic control of all records from their creation or receipt, through their processing, distribution, organization, storage and retrieval to their ultimate disposition. Because information is such an important resource to organization, the records management function also includes information management. Therefore, records management is also known as Records and Information Management or RIM (Magnus, 2006).

Records management may also be used to define as the way official records (correspondence files, information) are organized in such a way that they have a meaning, and can be used continuously by the users such as managers, records professionals, educational institutions,

Importance of Records Management in Government Agencies

Establishing a records management programme, in government agencies for example, the Meteorological Department may result in both immediate and long-term importance to the department. Below are stated some of the importance of records management in the government agencies, civil service, companies and businesses as a whole:

• Records management reduces lost or misplaced records. Because the human element is always with us, even the best system in the world will occasionally have misplaced records. But properly designed document management systems can gradually reduce misfiles. Most often misfiled records can cost the clerical staff a huge wastage of time in searching for records;

• Records management act as evidence in the time of dispute. It is important for the settlement of dispute because it can be shown as proof in court;

• It helps in evaluating progress of organization. It helps in the preservation of history of the organization. The past records shows direction to organization. It helps in finding out the weaknesses and strength of organization. Records management gives the account of progress and direction in which organization is giving on;

• Records management is the memory of business. It is useful for future decision making process. The study of past records shows direction for future. It supplies information to organization whenever it is needed therefore, it helps in taking decision;

• Records management helps to evaluate business progress and performance. It helps in comparison between one period of time and another or between sometime of businesses;

• Records management helps in management and control of important records. It helps to protect necessary records with care and disposes useless records;
• To minimize litigation risks. Organization implement records management programmes in order to reduce the risks associated with litigation and potential penalties. This can be equally true in government agencies. A consistency applied records management programme can reduce the liabilities associated with document disposal by providing for their systematic, routine disposal in a normal course of business;

• It increases accountability. A records management will put in place a system for tracking actions on each record, therefore increasing accountability and providing access reports; and

• To improve working environment. Implementing records management programme improves the working environment through the organization of records and storage offsite. Organized working environment can then improve the perception of the business by clients and potential employees. New employees are also easily trained to manage the company’s records when an efficient records management programme is in place (Jackson, 2008).

The Historical Background of the Meteorological Department Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone was the headquarter (HQ) of the West African Meteorological services which was established in 1923.Meterological services were provided for four West African countries namely Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and The Gambia respectively. The Sierra Leone Meteorological department is an offshoot of the British West African Meteorological services founded on the 27th April 1961. Since the establishment, the department has been governed by series of directors and the presently director is Alpha Bockari who has served in this capacity from 2012-to date. The headquarter is located at F18 Charlotte street Freetown.

The Meteorological Department exist to provide cost effective weather and climate services by collecting, processing, archiving and disseminating meteorological and climatological information and services to support end user contributing to the management of Sierra Leone’s economy with special regard to protection of lives and property and safeguarding of the environment and recovering the costs of the services so rendered so that it expenditure will not exceed it income.

As a department under the ministry of Transport and Aviation, they are charged with the following mandates /responsibilities:

• Safety and well being of citizen and their protection against severe weather situation and devastation from natural disasters;

• Provision of reliable climate data to facilitates project design for agricultural planning and implement, water supply systems, infrastructure, and tourism;

• Contributing to the socio- economic (including providing end user services for agricultural activities, marine) development of the country;

• Carryout weather and climate related activities e.g. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Climate Change Services (CCS), Reduction of Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), and National Communication (NCS) (Meteorological Department, 2014).

Objectives of the Meteorological Department Sierra Leone

The overarching objective of the Meteorological Department established as the sole authority, which issues weather and climatological warnings and services are, to:

• Forecast, plan and deliver meteorological and climatological services which meet national socio- economic development needs.

• Collect, process, store and disseminate meteorological and climatological information both nationally and internationally in accordance with rules and practices and procedures established under the WMO Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), etc and other relevant conventions of the United Nations systems such as the Frame work Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and Convention to Combat Desertification, Drought etc.

• Provide a range of customer/ sector specific operational meteorological services to such major sub sector as those for aviation, water resources, agriculture, defense, marine, tourism, sports and recreation, and construction;

• Provides advice on meteorological and climatological matters to the national community and other governmental and non- governmental agencies.

• Develop adequate manpower to enhance functional effectiveness and efficiency of agencies.

• Reduce its reliance on the national budget and generate its own revenue by charging for services rendered to other clients;

• Arrange for and manage surface and upper air observation networks and accurately and effectively record the weather and climate condition for Sierra Leone’s economic development;

• Provides meteorological services for search and rescue operations during disaster and relief operations as well as during national emergencies; and

• Participate on behalf of Sierra Leone in the activities of relevance international organizations to which its belongs, in particular the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), World Weather Watch (WWW), Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW), Inter- Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Developments (ACMAD), United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) etc role in all climate change activities of the country (Meteorological Department, 2014).

Methods of Managing Records at the Meteorological Department

Records keeping are of great importance to any institution. One of the most crucial decision managers, directors or heads of organization have to make is to choose the suitable methods of managing their organization’s records. There of two methods that is significantly used. These include centralized and decentralized methods of managing records.

Centralized Methods

A Centralized method of managing records is the one in which all physical documents are located in one central location or office. The location is controlled by the records management office staff. The number of employees in the records department will depend on the size of the organization. In a centralized method, end users have the comfort of knowing all physical documents relating to a particular case are held in the same location. If for instance, end user needs to reference a file he/she would be required to contact the records office staff. The file would then be checked out to the end user. A complete claim of custody of file is captured, so the location of file is known at all times.

A centralized method has a heightened level of security. For example, the entrance is locked so only the records staff has access to the files in the records office. This process yields much more control over physical document than the decentralized methods. For efficiency of purpose, uniform office procedures are documented and circulated to all end user. These procedures address topics such as hours or operation, file request and delivery times.

Decentralized Method

A Decentralized method is one in which the physical documents are located across the entire office. This may mean they can be found in every staff offices or other work room space. Unlike centralized methods, where the files are controlled exclusively by the records office. A decentralized method is controlled by the staff that created the file. The physical files are stored at the employee’s desk not in a centralized location for all to access. Thus, the method would not require a full time record staff.

Employees would have access to their files at all times and would be responsible for maintaining accuracy. The decentralized method of managing records has its demerits. For instance, suppose group of employees are working on the same case at the same time suddenly, the employee who is responsible for maintaining the file is absent. The rest of the group may have trouble in locating the file if the organization does not have claim of custody procedure in place. Along the same lines, a decentralized method of managing records will have little or no security over files. This can prove problematic especially if an organization handles high sensitive cases.

However, in the meteorological department, a centralized method of managing the department’s records is adopted. That is to say, both physical and electronic or other records are centrally managed by the department’s office clerk. Although, there are challenges with regards to the keeping and managing of records, nevertheless the method is well utilized. (Meteorological Department, 2014).

Types of Records generated by Meteorological Department

The records generated by the meteorological department office plays a vital role in managing the operations of the department. The department documents past activities, phenomenon and events that serves the basis for further actions. The records are both manual and electronic in nature. Examples of manual records include:

• Office administrative records;
• Human resource records;
• Financial/ fiscal records;
• Meteorological data/ records;
• Material records;
• Public information records;
• Conference/seminar service records; and
• General programs.

Electronic Records: These electronic or machine readable records are data in a form that can be read and processed by a computer and that satisfies the legal definition of a record. At the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone these are records relating to divisions and out stations in the department and these include:
• Electronic mail and messages;
• Electronic spreadsheet;
• Primary data files and data bases;
• Machines readable indexes; and
• Word processing files.

Users of the Records at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

The users of the Meteorological Department records in Sierra Leone include:
• Administrative personnel;
• Research/ external users;
• Human Resource Management Office (HRMO);
• Government ministries and agencies;
• International organizations e.g. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Meteorological Organization (WMO); and
• Clients to which Meteorological Department information is given. For example, the media in Sierra Leone such as: Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), African Young Voices (AYV), and Star Television).

Filing System at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

Filing System in Records Management is the process of classifying, arranging, sorting and storing records so they may be easily located and retrieved when needed. It is the classification and control of basic file groups, material collection procedures, file preparation, sorting, indexing, maintenance and cross referencing. A well defined and maintained filing system allows vital information to be accessed quickly and saves company money by saving time. Business, schools, government agencies and even every day, people use filing systems to keep their affairs organized. Thus, the following various types of filing systems may enable agency to carry out proper filing system efficiently.

Alphabetical Filing System

In the alphabetical filing system, records are arranged according to name that is from A-Z either the name of a person, company or subject in accordance with the letters of the alphabet. There are two methods involve in alphabetical filing system.The topical alphabetic filing system, also known as a dictionary system. In this system files, individual record are in alphabetical order. This filing system works well when storing a small number of records. It proves to be problematic when individual has a lot of client sharing the same name.The other method is the geographical filing system; also know as encyclopedia or classification system. This system is used to organize larger volume of records. It groups subject together under broad categories based on a location such as a city, country or state. The categories and the files within each category are arranged alphabetically.

Numerical Filing System

In the numeric filing system, numbers are assigned to each file and arranged the numbers in segmented order. Files of people with the same name won’t have duplicate headings as with the alphabetical system. This system also offers better filing confidentiality since names are displayed in the files and work well when handing a large volume of files.

Terminal Filing System

In the terminal digit filing system also, numbers of assigned files are in sequential order but filed according to the last two digits. For example. If an individual is filing number 18547; first the individual go to 47 section of the filing system then look for the 85 area of the section and finally look for the number one (1).

Alphanumeric Filing System

The alphanumeric filing system, both letters and numbers are used to organized files. For example, two letters are used to signify the client files in, followed by a number to denote his account number.

The meteorological department filing system, have adopted the alphanumeric filing system. In that record, they use the end-tab folder and pockets that simply stand on shelves and filing cabinets. No hanging pocks with a use of office space. The meteorological department has some challenges but the filing system is organized and use efficiently.

Records Storage Systems

Record should be kept in good order, in a secure location. Those containing confidential or personal data such as staff files must be stored in lockable units and should not be left on desks overnight or view of visitors. Only records which are required frequently should be stored in the office. Those which need to be retained for legal or other reasons should be stored offsite with the records office offsite, while those which have outlived their usefulness should be destroyed. However, records which are less than one year will not be stored offsite.

Storage systems used in records office most provide appropriate protection for records based on format and volume of records, how frequently they are used, how quickly they need to be accessed and security requirement. The main types of records storage systems used include:

Vertical Filing Cabinets

These are adequate for small filing systems, but are less suitable for large runs of records and records that require frequent access. Access is slow, since drawers have to be opened, and these can significant impact where there is a high volume of records activity. The cabinets require large amount of space and drawer space is often not use to full capacity.

Book Shelves

These are suitable for books or files that are stored upright, such as box files and lever arch files.

Lateral Filing Units

These have long drawer for storing files laterally and use space more efficiently than their vertical counterparts. Alternatively, static unit without drawer can be use, where files are stored in hanging pocket or cradles. Where prompt filing and retrieval are required open unit will be the most efficient. If file access is to be restricted, units with lockable doors or shutters can be used.

Mobile Shelving

This may be suitable where a large volume of records need to be stored near at hand, as it reduces the number of access aisles require. It is the most expensive type of shelving, and is very heavy. The floor must have sufficient structural capacity to support these shelves.

Open Shelving System

This usually found in large offices and in central file rooms, it allows for rapid retrieval and refilling. This type of lateral file, which resemble open book shelves allows files to be retrieved horizontally. It also offers full viewing of the folder tabs, which makes for rapid retrieval. And there is an estimated 50 percent saving space when files are moved from vertical system to an open shelve system. This unit usually requires professional installation, which can be negotiated with the vendor is an inclusion in the cost of the equipment. These are the most efficient kinds of files available. They also have doors and can be locked. Some of those with doors have flush backs and can be used as attractive room dividers with a built-in advantage of providing a good deal of sound- proofing. These doors and 6 openings are easily accessed over 200 inches of filing. Those without doors provide even more filing capacity and should be consider, even if there is a perceived need to lock them.

Records Storage Systems at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

The main types of records storage systems used at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone is the open Shelve System which is mentioned above where files contacting records are usually found in large offices and in central file rooms which allows for the rapid retrieval and refilling. This type of lateral file, which resemble open book shelves allows files to be retrieved horizontally.

Records Retrieval at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

Retrieval is the process of locating and removing a record or file from storage. It is also the action of recovering information on a given subject from stored data. It deals with standards and procedures in retrieving paper, electronic and image records. For example, finding a name and telephone number in a telephone directory or data base is a common storage and retrieval activity. Records or information can be retrieve in three ways:

Manually: people go to a storage container and remove by hand a record wanted or make a note of information requested from it.

Mechanically: a person uses some mechanical means, such as pressing the correct buttons to rotate movable shelves to correct location of a record, remove the record manually, or record information requested from it.

Electronically: a person uses some means, such as a computer, to locate a record. The physical record may not need to be removed from storage. The requester is informed as to where it can be found, or the information requested is showed to the requester in some way, perhaps on a screen in a data base or electronic mail file.

Request for stored records may be made orally over the telephone or by a messenger or in writing memo, letter etc. The request may be delivered in person, sent by mechanical, such as a conveyor system, or sent electronically by email. The record must be retrieved from storage and given to the requester quickly. Every minute of delay in finding a record is costly in user or requester wasting time and in filers searching time and could possibly lead to loss of money for the business (Stephens, 2009).

However, manual and mechanical procedures are normally utilized in retrieving records at the Meteorological Department since majority of their records are in paper based form.

Challenges facing Records Management at the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone situation in business of record keeping and management especially in the Meteorological Department system has not been too successful because of the lack of management component. Writing in support of the above finding, I have noted that many years of neglect had done great damage to meteorological sector and record keeping is not an exemption. The following are some of the challenges of proper records management faced by the Meteorological department in Sierra Leone:

Inadequate Funding

The problem of inadequate funding of records office in the meteorological department is more intensive than the other departments. This is a problem that was not only experienced during the colonial era but has passed on even to today’s records management programs. Payment of employee’s salaries, purchase of modern preservation equipment and chemicals among the other day- today activities that facilitates records preservation are vital activities that call for proper adequate funding to enable the institution to achieve its objectives are not quite seen. For this reason, the meteorological records office practice is abandoned with unqualified personnel thus suffering from inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

Inadequacy of Space and Equipment

The records office at the Meteorological Department is rather too small to contain current and non- current records. The equipment used is somehow crude in nature and also of inadequate capacity. The record staff do not have access to modern equipment due to combine problem of inadequate funding and know- how technology.

Problematic Nature of Format

Most record materials are still organic nature, most of them been paper based. This means they are capable of aging, advancing, deteriorating with time. For this reason, they need equipment to be treated and handled with for the purpose of preserving them. For such a country like Sierra Leone which lies within the tropics such conditions are worsen by high level of humidity in the atmosphere and high temperature all around the year. All these conditions combine work to hasten the nature chemical process of decaying records. Furthermore, records keeping facilities in the Meteorological Department do not have weather control preservative where all weather conditions can be controlled to enhance record preservation thus, making the whole preservation process even more difficult.

Absence of Records Management Laws

The National Records act of 1964 is outdated and is no longer serving its usefulness. Records do not have legal description, backing or definition of their service. Legal laws provide for authenticity, which serves to promote and also provides confidence to the public and those practicing in the profession about the service being offered. These are the very important elements that the Meteorological Department’s record keeping facility lacks.

Lack of Understanding and Appreciation

The records management program in the Meteorological Department is rarely appreciated and its role in the provision and management of information understood by only a handful of staff. This is also true as it is the culture in many other public and private sectors that generate vital records on a daily basis have no basic understanding of records life cycle and requirement of the records disposal act. They are extremely ignorant of the vital role that can be played by the records office to help them properly managed and preserve record both at the current and semi- current stages. Staff is totally uninformed about the records activities and for this reason it is recommended that the records office should engage in programs that will help to educate staff and other users in the requirement and content of the activities.

Conclusively,Record keeping in an organization set up is very important and cannot be over emphasized. This is because continuity depends on availability of useful records of the past activities. In a complex organization like that of the Meteorological Department, it is not possible to keep every single information in the brain, because the volume of information is heavy, therefore records must be kept. In Sierra Leone, meteorological laws demand that every meteorological station should keep certain meteorological records such as weather fore cast data, personnel records, visitor’s book, inventory book, account book. Record keeping occupies a strategic position in the efficient and effective management of meteorological system. In fact, it is central in the administration of institution of learning because it document the planning and implementation of appropriate course of service allowing monitoring of work.

Unfortunately, the Sierra Leone situation in business of record keeping and management especially in the Meteorological Department system has not been too successful because of the lack of management component. Giving credence to this assertion, records management practice in the Meteorological Department has a number of problems as indicated above. By paying close attention to all these problems and addressing them one at a time we help solve the problems and enhance good management of records in the Meteorological Department in Sierra Leone.

The Effective HR Manager

Winning the respect, trust and confidence of line managers and making a difference

Ask many line managers what they think of HR managers and you will get a variety of views from the positive to the most damning.

Examples are:

- “Excellent. Very professional.”

- “Very responsive, supportive and helpful”

- “Great if I can ever get hold of them”

- “Talk their own language. Not really in touch with the needs of the business. A bit flakey”

- “You mean the dead hand of HR!”

As the issue of effective HR management has grown in importance over the years so has the need for HR managers to be both responsive and proactive in meeting the needs of their developing organisations.

Clearly it’s important that an organisation’s employees are paid on time, they are able to access the benefits they are entitled to and can receive straightforward help and advice from HR when needed.

This operational piece of the HR management responsibility needs to be reliable and responsive in every respect. Getting the basics right is all important.

So is partnering with line managers in recruitment activities, performance management processes, training and personal development provision. These are all very necessary, core elements of the HR function’s role. Organisation’s have every right to expect that HR managers will be proficient in these areas.

But what about gaining the respect, trust and confidence of line managers, over and above these basics? How can HR managers really add value? Here are eight tips.

- Vision

HR managers need to clearly understand the organisation’s vision and challenge the CEO if it is not clear. They need to create an aligned vision for HR to support the corporate vision.

They need to draft a vision, share it with selected line managers, check it, refine it and communicate it both to the HR team and line managers. They need to be clear on HR’s vision for future success, and clear on how it is aligned to the organisation’s overall vision.

- Objectives

HR managers must be clear on their organisation’s objectives. They need to put clear, measurable objectives and milestones to the HR vision. They need to make their objectives concrete, tangible and deliverable with time frames attached.

They need to announce them and ‘stick’ to them. They need to communicate their success in achieving them. They need to be seen as “business like”.

- Strategy

HR managers need to understand their organisation’s strategy. They need to be clear on their HR strategy to deliver their objectives. How will HR be positioned within the organisation as a whole? How will it work alongside the business to deliver the strategy of the business? How will it marry the day to day needs of the business with the longer term development needs?

How will it operate with closer external specialists and suppliers? What short, medium and long term plans does it have to really add value to the business?

What changes will need to be made to deliver the strategy?

HR managers need to answer these questions, share their strategy and plans with the business and their standing will automatically be enhanced!

- Resources

HR is in the business of attracting, acquiring and developing the RIGHT people. HR managers will need to assess the quality of the organisation’s existing people and compare their current capabilities to the capabilities required by the organisation in the future. That’s why they need to understand the organisation’s vision, objectives and strategy so well.

They need to compare the current competency framework to a desired competency framework, say three years from now. What will be different in the requirement of the organisation’s people? How will this impact the type of people the organisation will need, where in the business, and when?

HR managers need to create a strategic HR development plan to deliver the right people resources to the organisation to meet both its current and future needs. The use of performance management, personal development and capability management systems will help them to do this accurately. They must get transparency of the organisation’s human resources to plan effectively.

- Structure

HR managers need to structure the HR function in the most appropriate way.

They should centralise those activities which are core to the whole business. This will include policy development, recruitment, compensation and benefits, performance management, personal development and disciplinary processes. Many of these are governed by legislation and need to be corporate wide, although there may have to be regional or county variations.

HR business managers should be allocated to lines of business to work closely alongside line managers to create and deliver specific interventions to meet their ongoing needs. These people need to be seen as true business partners adding specialist knowledge and skills to line managers. In a sense they are internal consultants clearly understanding the business as well as best practice in HR management and development in the market place.

- Systems

HR managers should employ “fit for purpose” systems for both HR management and HR development. This does not mean the most sophisticated, costly and “heavy weight” systems. They should choose systems that can be easily integrated with one another, are customisable and require little management time.

Systems need to be user friendly as the trend is for managers to use them to ‘self-serve’ more and more these days.

Systems should work together holistically enabling the organisation to obtain transparency of its entire human resource, to enable it to adopt the best people acquisition, retention and development process.

- Knowledge and Skills

HR managers need to ensure that they and their team members really understand the business they work for, including its:

- Market-place

- Customers

- Products/ services

- Routes to market

- Competition

- Major commercial challenges

- Threats, e.g. legal constraints

- Vision, strategy and objectives

- Plans for the future – short, medium and long term

- Culture and values

- Leadership and management style beliefs

Many HR managers fall down because they lack essential knowledge of the business and fail to use the language and terminologies which clearly show that they understand the core business and how it works.

They should avoid “HR speak” which really turns off line managers. This may be helpful shorthand to HR professionals but it is an anathema for line managers and their staff. HR managers should focus on the objective, tangible, concrete, business related issues not just the softer, behavioural and more subjective issues.

They should gain respect for their knowledge of HR issues as well as the tangible issues faced by the business. After all, human resources are just one element of tackling these issues. When handling people related problems HR managers should go back to the vision, objectives and strategy of the business before embarking on solutions.

HR managers should expand their knowledge to include strategic thinking, change management, business planning and organisation development. Oh and finally HR managers and their teams need to become very IT savvy! They are usually not!

- Leadership and Management

The HR manager’s role is to challenge where necessary the behaviours exhibited by managers, who clearly do not ‘walk the talk’. They are to a large extent guardians of the culture and values and need to be seen to be adopting this role.

HR managers should ‘educate’ senior line managers on modern management thinking, helping them to move away from a command and control approach to a more collaborative, consensual working style which truly engages and motivates employees at all levels to give of their best.

The job of today’s managers is to recognise and release talent at all levels not to overlook it or squash it. Performance management systems, personal development programs and reward systems all need to focus on the behaviors and competence required of managers to imbed the corporate values and culture into the organisation. It is the job of the HR manager to ensure that this happens.

So how well have you developed your skills in these eight areas of expertise as an HR manager? Check out how well you are currently doing by using the list below. Tick the box on the left of the statements only if it is TRUE of you.

Start each statement with the words “I..

Top of Form

Have a vision, clearly communicated and accepted, for the role of the HR which is aligned to the corporate vision.

Have short term (up to one year), medium term (two to three years) and longer term (over three years) objectives for the HR function.

Have a thought through written strategy and plan to deliver my objectives.

Am able to assess accurately the organisation’s current HR needs and its future needs, aligning its corporate development plan to strategic HR reviews.

Have a structure for my HR team which enables it to play a centralised and decentralised role in the business, catering for its daily operational needs, and its future development needs.

Have in place HR management and development systems that are fit for purpose, reliable and user friendly.

Am investing in my own and my team’s knowledge and skills in specific areas of HR and wider business related areas.

Challenge the behaviours of managers at all levels of the organisation to live out the corporate values, and my performance management and reward systems reinforce the need to walk the talk.

Am seen as a respected, knowledgeable professional in whom people can put their trust because they have confidence in me.

Continually invest in my own and my team’s personal growth and development.

Total Score:
Bottom of Form

How did you score?

8-10 – Excellent to very good. You have a few gaps to fill.

5 to 8 – Very good to fair. You have quite a few gaps to fill.

0 to 5 – Not so good. If you believe in the points made in this article you have some way to go!

You could say that these are the basics. Getting them right will in itself enhance the HR manager’s standing and reputation. However there are also issues to consider.

These include:

- Being emotionally intelligent

- Being ‘politically’ savvy

- Exercising critical judgement

- Influencing without authority

- Being a catalyst for change

- Having personal credibility

- Being culturally aware

- Conflict resolution skills

- Team building skills

- Managing upwards and managing peers

Plus a host of other soft skills!

The Importance of Employee Management Software in a Modern Office

Former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, Anne Mulcahy, once said,

“Employees are a company’s greatest asset- they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”

If you are an organization that uses the Internet for everyday business practices, then there should nothing stopping you from going one step further and applying technology provided on the Internet to employee management.

Under piles of workloads, appointments, and meetings, it often becomes understandably difficult for a manager to give employees the time and attention, encouragement and stimulus that they deserve.
Making use of a company’s greatest assets – its human resources – to their fullest potential sometimes means adopting technology that efficiently tackles time constraints, management challenges, a employee dissatisfaction.

Has it Ever Worked? Yes!

Ever wondered what goes into making candy? The answer should be a large number of very satisfied workers. Or at least that’s what the Jelly Belly Candy Company of California believe.

The family-owned company takes its employee performance and job satisfaction very seriously.

They recently decided to make the switch from its antiquated talent management process to a far more modern and automated system that uses an employee management software to provide accurate performance appraisals.

The result?

The new automated employee management system has allowed for a more standardized, organized, and formal evaluation process at the Jelly Belly Candy Company.

Greater accessibility between employees and managers, better training programs, and more efficient performance appraisals have all allowed the company to reach its business objectives without compromising on employee satisfaction.

The Different Tools of an Employee Management Software

1. Maintain a database for all your former and current employees

Complete, searchable, and secure records that includes information such as the employee’s personal details, bank details, emergency contacts, and even a record of his/her sick leaves.

2. Reduce the paperwork

An efficient employee management software will allow employees to request time off, submit timesheets or documents and allows employees to audit or approve submissions or requests.
This negates the need to work with HR or submit unnecessary pieces of paper.

3. Keeps track of time and attendance

Employees and managers have an instant record of absenteeism and the number of hours put into work everyday. This allows employees to be more responsible and stay on top of their punctuality and absenteeism rates before it becomes in issue.

4. Total Rewards

Some employee management software apps allow managers to provide their employees with rewards (financial or non-financial) for good performance.

Employees can access their total reward statement through the software, and this often becomes a powerful way of keep individuals motivated and driven.

5. Expense Management

An incredibly useful feature of most employee management software is that it allows staff to scan or photograph and upload receipts onto a database, therefore allowing managers and employees to keep a permanent account of all expenses.

6. Payroll

A simple app can process payroll on individuals online based on the number of hours they have put in with just a click of a button.

7. Asset Management

When an employee leaves the company, managers can keep track and monitor the return of any equipment that was provided to the employee by the organization.

8. Shift Planning

In an organization that depends on perfect timesheets for its smooth functioning, a tool that schedules the staff, eliminates shift conflicts, and notify employees of work shifts automatically can prove to be extremely convenient.

9. Track progress of the company

Information is constantly being constantly being collected on the employee management software, making it easy to gauge the company’s progress.
Instead of having to spend time putting together reports to see how the company is doing, a quick look at the information on the software should allow managers to constantly and accurately track the company’s progress.

The Benefits: Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

1. Providing constructive feedback

Neither managers nor employees look forward to performance reviews, often a once-a-year event that makes an employee feel like a school kid receiving a report card.

Surveys have shown that employees dread annual performance reviews and are therefore less likely to respond in a positive manner to the feedback that is given.

An employee management software allows managers can control how frequently and in what format they would like to provide feedback to their employees.

Performance appraisal reports can be replaced with configurable dashboards and messaging systems, resulting in feedback that is constructive, efficient, and perhaps flows better with the rest of the company culture.

2. Setting goals and motivating employees

An employee management software makes it easy to remind employees of their goals and drive them towards developing skills and meeting deadlines.

This structure also allows employees to work more independently instead of being micromanaged by a manager or HR professional.

3. Better accessibility and communication

Time constraints, clashing schedules, and increasing workload makes it difficult for employees and managers to communicate.

This can foster resentment and misunderstandings, with managers sometimes being too harsh in their judgement of employees and employees sometimes feeling like they have been judged unfairly.

Employee management software avoid help companies avoid such issues, and can help managers clearly communicate their expectations from an employee.

4. Better employee-manager relationships

Employee management software takes away some of the pressure, anxiety and stress that is often observed between managers and employees.

It allows for an environment that encourages low stress communication and help employees and managers work together towards meeting organizational goals.

To summarize, an employee management software provides an organization with a plethora of tools for better management, while simultaneously focusing on employee satisfaction and engagement.
If used correctly and to its fullest potential, employee management software provides a company with an automated, efficient management system and a healthier work environment.