Developing Individuals, Teams and Organisations Assignment Sample 1

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Human resource management is ensuring the right environment of people and teams to contribute towards the organizational goals in an effective and sustained way. Earlier understanding of human resource management were focused on concepts like labour welfare, labour relations, personnel management, and industrial relations. Modern day human resource theorists and practitioners have shown an increasing emphasis on notions and practices of organizational performance ((Marchington and Grugulis 2000; Leggat 2012). Terms like 'high performance', 'high involvement' 'collaborative-HR', 'high commitment', and so forth (Whitfield and Poole 1997) are referred to denote such practices create work environment where employees are highly involved in the organization and are integrated towards collectively achieving organizational goals (Eisenberger et al. 1997; Pfeffer 1999). High performance human resource management advocates that employees' commitment to the organization will positively impact both organizational performance and job satisfaction (Pfeffer 1996,1999; MacDuffie 1995).

There have been studies suggesting the importance of personal and professional skills in advancing towards a high-performing culture. Employee performance is directly functional to both skills and motivation (Dyer and Reeves 1995). This report discusses important aspects of high-performance work environments in Unilever with respect to different features of development of individuals, teams and organizations focusing on learning and development. Unilever is a leading Anglo-Dutch FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) conglomerate from the UK. The company has established its products in over 190 countries and has over 400 plus Unilever brands worldwide with a human resource capacity of 155,000 serving 2.5 billion customers (About Unilever, 2020). In this case study, an analysis of skills and knowledge required by a HR professional is conducted. The discussion then moves onto the importance of inclusive learning and development for sustainable business performance. Finally, this report makes the case for the importance of different approaches to performance management in contributing towards a high performing organizational environment.

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LO1 Analyse the knowledge, skills and behaviours expected of staff members by HR professionals

HR teams at Unilever strive towards attracting, training, retaining and expanding the best talent in the organisation. They are responsible to bring in a structure which is functional and effective to each and every department in the organisation with optimal utilisation of human resources evaluating their skills, knowledge and experience.HR managers aim at achieving high value creation for both the employees and organisation through human resource strategies.

HR managers should be able to implement design solutions that would lead to high performing teams and personnel while fostering progressive employee relations environment. An HR manager at Unilever is able to make delivery towards the business goals too by taking part in its vision and objectives. They also build relations between Unilever people while managing change implementation and utilising talent development for short term and long-term requirements of the company.

The requirement of an HR professional differs from industry to industry as no industry has the same set of vision and objectives for their employees and the organisation. Given below is what this case study identified as the skills, knowledge, and behaviour of an HR manager in Unilever:




Effective communication

Knowledge of the needs of the business

Strive to constantly develop themselves and maintain high standards for meeting challenges in their roles

HRM Knowledge and expertise

Knowledge of international and domestic HRM policy and practices

Collaborative and inclusive and a co-create approach

Recruitment, selection and onboarding

Planning, analyzing a business strategy

Ability to influence the support and commitment of employees and management

Change management and risk analysing skills

Organizational knowledge

Intercultural sensitivity and fluency

Performance Appraisal

Knowledge in employee training and development programs

Fairness and Credibility

Project management and time management

Knowledge of international and domestic labour legislations

Focused equally in the future curious and open minded;

Documentation and Reporting skills

Continued Professional Development

Innovative and creative ways towards value creation in the organization

Enhanced Technological skills

Knowledge of 'best practices in the industry

Resourceful and motivated towards delivery of goals

Analysis of Personal Skills audit

Evaluation of personal skills is highly relevant to a high-performance organization. HR personnel's in Unilever recognize this and incorporate such assessments to achieve the performance benchmarks. In a personal skills audit, a Unilever employee understands her strength, opportunity and needs to work towards an healthy work environment. At Unilever this helps in charting out the career path of each employee and provides a growth opportunity within and outside the organization.

Personal skills assessment would vary from role to role, industry to industry. An HR Manager in Unilever would list her personal skills in terms of self-development, goals and competencies, technical skills and so on. An analysis of strength includes detailing out of the advantages she has with regards to skills, certifications, education, and connections, for advancing the growth path. Personal resources and achievements made in different careers and personal aspects should come into a strength assessment. The values and beliefs of these personnel's also list out as a strength while doing a personal skill assessment. Likewise, weaknesses of the manager are also crucial in making improvements. Weaknesses should be both self-identified and seeked out as criticisms and recommendations from other personals, like personnel's higher in the work hierarchy or colleagues. One should be able to identify the tasks and activities one tends to ignore and feel less confident about including work habits and personality traits that impact negatively on the work culture. At Unilever this is examined both as an internal and external approach to personal skills assessment.

Opportunity audits are very key to Unilever HR personals as this gives out tangible, achievable goals for each employee in the team. Opportunity to learn could be educational, cultural, physical, technological, or organizational in nature. Learning a new technology to a new analytics software is listed in the opportunity assessment. Through such evaluations individuals understand what exactly is required for them to advance in the organization and the industry overall. To conclude evaluation skills, contribute towards high-performance work culture by being goal-oriented, and not just organizational goals, but the specific needs and requirements of personals in the company.

Professional Development Plan

Professional Development Plans (PDP) are widely used in the workplaces. PDP is an assessment tool, used by employees in organizations (Webb et al. 2003). Below is a Professional Development Plan prepared for a HR manager in Unilever:

Professional Development Plan for Unilever HR Manager

Targeted competency/ skills

Learning and Development Goals

Developmental Activity/Training


Conflict management

Improve skill sets on conflict management to better assist in intra-organizational disputes

Complete a mediation program offered by a third party

1 month

Enhanced Technological skill

Learn more about HR Analytics

Attend a HR analytics workshop

Read 2 books about people analytics

Practice analytics software

2 months

People management

People management skills to manage junior managers and HR professionals.

Locate a Senior HR professional who can mentor.

Attend online leadership and management courses for professionals

10 months

Technical knowledge

In-depth understanding of performance appraisal software

Organize few training sessions with the software vendor

1 month

Social media and use of web-based tools

Gain expertise in use of social media for the internet presence of Unilever's workplace

Explore new tools and learn more possibilities with the existing tools

2 months

LO2 Analyse the factors to be considered when implementing and evaluating inclusive learning and development to drive sustainable business performance

A key step towards a high-performance organization is high performing employees. Continuous learning is crucial for employees to meet the evolving organizational goals and objectives. High impact learning culture has proved transformative for Unilever which reflects in is not only high retention rate of employees but also the overall performance and productivity of the organization.

Organizational and individual learning, training, and development

Learning, development, and training essential components of inclusive learning in an organization (Kolb 2014). An inclusive learning environment facilitates an atmosphere to approach continuous learning within an organization with an open mind. Organizational learning comprises the utilization of formal and informal learning processes across the organization to achieve the set of objectives determined through a goal assessment.

Unilever has implemented several models, strategies, and mechanisms of organizational learning for its people and teams. With better information technology, organizational systems and talented pool of employees Unilever is bringing innovations and improvements in products, services, and processes. Unilever has been working with organizational learning systems for so long now.

In organizational learning the emphasis is on the knowledge creation within the organization. The learning process of organizations comprises three stages: information about key learning goals are gathered and then interpreted for insights to arrive at a set of cognitive and behavioral changes based on continuous responses (Hult et al. 2000). Such information is acquired through a holistic learning environment and makes use of the same effectively and incorporates the insights to the overall organizational goals and needs. Thus it is highly important for companies to collect, interpret and make changes to the information to make optimum utilization of the learning systems (Janz and Prasarnphanich 2003).

In the case of individual learning the knowledge transfer occurs through external sources and their own individual experiences which have been gained over time. While individual learning is more focused on personal development, organizational needs come to the forefront in the organizational learning. In the organizational learning system, the employees are provided with assessment, training, and development to enhance their role towards the company. Individual learning is more about self-evaluation by which the employee determines her efficacy, strengths, and weaknesses. In terms of productivity, in organizational learning it is oriented towards the organization's productivity by focusing on every single employee, while individual learning targets improving the employee productivity and helps them to advance towards their career goals. While in organizational learning the focus is more on training the employees for their roles within the organization.

Continuous Professional Development and Theories of Learning Cycle

Continuous learning and professional development include developing, maintaining, and advancing the employee's professional skills. This could be done though formal learning, through courses, training, through mentorship, or informally. It helps the employee in identifying their development needs and engaging in learning activities by taking part in developmental activities, formally or informally. Continuous Professional Development (CPD) as it is called in professional environment, to denote a systematic set of activities which includes a set of expectations and results, is effective when there is plan to carry on and when the learning activities are designed specifically for each of its beneficiaries and proper infrastructure and resource is made available.

Continuous learning and professional development is significant for organization in terms of benchmarking higher standards across the organization for employee development. Establishing a learning culture within an organization implies that the company is always prepared for the ever-changing dynamics of the industry, while it also benefits employees who remain competitive to the industry standards. All these factors also in turn contribute towards the overall productivity of the company. A dynamic learning culture also means that retention of the employee will be higher compared to the competitors who do not invest much in continuous development of their employees. A constantly rejuvenated work force also means that the organization can remain on top of the latest trends and movements in the industry. Provision of a CPD also means that the organization will attract high quality talent which advances the reputation even among the end-consumers.

Learning systems, both organizational and personal, should have both strategic and tactical goals. Learning goals should be set through processes like evaluation of skills, or gap analysis. Learning cycles explains different phases of learning in a group. Kolb's learning cycle, for instance, makes the argument that learning should be part of each of the organizational processes (Kolb and Fry 1974). He argues that to learn something an individual should go through a full cycle of turning one's actions to experiences, and reflecting on these experiences, and making plans for new sets of actions, and define a course of action and make changes in the actions based on the required results. In the learning cycle, Kolb emphasizes the cruciality of each phase being mutually supported by each other and in turn complementing each other and leaning one to another naturally.

Figure 1. Kolb's Learning Cycle Theory

Source: (Kolb and Fry 1974)

Above is the illustrated version of Kolb's learning cycle. One should go through all the four stages for an effective learning process. Different employees could have different forms for interpreting this cycle based on their organizational functioning model and the nature of the industry. Style of learning is unique for each employee based on the social, educational, cultural, psychological and environmental background. Personal experiences also impact the learning style of an employee.

Watkins has proposed a different model of learning cycle which is based on informal and incidental learning, which contrasts with the formal learning (Kolb and Fry 1974; Watkins and Marsick 1993). Here learning takes place outside a formal structure like a course or workshop which is sponsored by an organization or is bound to classrooms. This learning cycle investigates a non-institutional, unintentional learning which is often a side-product of other activities which are not primarily intended to be learning activities.

LO3 Apply knowledge and understanding to the ways in which high-performance working contributes to employee engagement and competitive advantage

High-performance working improves employee relations through relevant strategy development and offering competitive skill in a collaborative work condition. HPO constantly develops its workforce at the same time continuously enhancing and reinventing the core capacities and competencies. High-performing organizations are usually long-term oriented in vision, but this does not stop the organizations from adapting change instantly. The strategy, mission, structure, people and processes are holistically aligned and integrated towards achieving organizational goals which each benefiting in it's own way in the process.

Unilever is collating data for the evaluation of the skills and talent of it's present workforce (Unilever: Through the sustainability lens - leading people authentically). This high-performance practice contributes towards learning and development of the workforce Unilever is able to understand the gaps in the skills and knowledge of its workforce and train their employees adequately. They also are able to 'future-proof' their business by adopting this approach. Unilever looks at their employees as a whole and examines what functions they perform not just for the organization but also professionally in the career path and understand what gaps need to be filled if there are any. This kind of human resource strategy which places people analytics at its core is on the approach in doing high-involving workplace systems.

Unilever has both individual and collective skill assessments which means the organization can identify both individual and collective gaps (Unilever: Through the sustainability lens - leading people authentically). This way the FMCG company is able to be ahead of its competitors in terms of the skills and competencies of their employees which will give them an advantage in the market.

Unilever has a flexible information communication technology system throughout the workplace which makes the database, and information accessible and credible all time. Unilever ensures the receptivity of technology among its employees through providing consistent training and support in their operation and maintenance which streamlines interactions within the organizations.

Unilever has carried out campaigns throughout its offices across the globe for making employee relations mutual. These campaigns allow feedback from employees by taking their opinions, grievances, complaints, and suggestions about the workplace environment.

Unilever also ensures a work-life balance of its employees by providing support in extending their social activities beyond their offices. The 'Social Impact Hub' program of Unilever supports their employees in finding new social activities and actively encourages them to be connected . Unilever also encourages each of its local offices to plan and execute their own custom human resource strategy which is highly responsive to the needs and requirements of their employees based on their larger cultural background.

Unilever has also made heavy investments in emphasizing the employee motivation through small and large surveys. Some of the offices even introduced devices that tracks the satisfaction and motivation of the employee on a regular basis . These high-performing organizational actions have led not only to rise their income and profitability but also leave a deep impact on their employee engagement metrics.

LO4 Role of Performance Management, Collaborative Working and Effective Communication in HPW

The process of continuous evaluation and measurement of planned and actual outcomes is often referred to as performance management. Collaborative working and a strong communication network is core to the establishment of an effective performance management. There are several ways to define performance management. One research defines it as 'link between individual behavior and organizational strategies and goals by defining performance in the context of those goals' (Aguinis and Pierce 2008). There are numerous approaches to managing the performance in the organization. An ideal performance management system will define the goals, discuss short and long term requirements of each of the stakeholders, plan and execute an action based on these needs and assess the performance based on these executed actions and then finally promote rewards These approaches would differ according to the strategic goals and other strategies of the organization.

Different approaches to performance management includes (Cummings and Worley 2014):

  • Comparative Approach: In this approach an employee's performance is evaluated in comparison with her coworkers. This could be based on a ranking system or paired comparisons. Personal bias and judgements would affect the ranking in such appraisals.
  • Attribute approach: This approach is generalizable for different roles and positions as it is based on characteristics and traits of employees that contribute towards the goals of the organization.
  • Quality approach: In this approach both the organizational system and the employee is appraised. This approach paves the way towards collaborative problem resolution methods as it involves both the employee and employer.
  • Behavioral approach: This approach comprises a formal behavioral scaling system based on which performance of the employee is measured.
  • Results approach: This approach is focused on the outcomes of assessing; earning and growth, internal and operations, customer and financial metrics.

For Unilever, the connection between high-performing work system can be termed as direct outcome of appraisal system that is in place, collaborative workplace, and effective communication. A functional performance management system will provide ample knowledge and information for the employees and employers about the possibilities of improvement. This will promote personal development of employees, innovation in all the departments and evolved team strategies, all of which contribute to HPW.

Unilever can tap into their already existing workforce for the talents and skills that are not known to them through a collaborative working environment which allows employees to grow up to and beyond their potential. Skillsets could be deployed and redeployed as novel projects come in untapping the already existing workforce. Such a working would benefit in promoting highly effective, flexible and mobile workplaces.

Unilever should prepare time-sensitive operational management and personnel development systems. The feedback element in the performance management is usually the most time-consuming, Unilever could make use of the existing information technology within its infrastructure to automate the feedback.

Leadership alignment is another factor which contributes to HPW. The functioning of the leadership in terms of decision-making and other high-impact responsibilities should be considerable of the collaborative work environment in place. Strategic goals of Unilever should be in alignment to the performance metrics of the company and vice-versa. Use of comparative approach will help the Unilever HR in meeting needs of the employee which might be conflicting.

To create a sensing of ownership for the employees, individual goals should be connected to organizational goals and objectives. This will facilitate constant feedback for the performance and competence of the individuals and enables Unilever to align its performance targets and objectives as a high-performance organization. The monitoring assessment of both the metrics is like that of quality approach for performance management as the competencies of both the employer and the employee is assessed. The outcomes of such assessment can be integrated into the learning system or activity where employees get the immediate opportunity to develop their personal and professional goals proactively. This can be made possible through existing intranet learning centers where different sorts of feedback and information could be made available for the improvement of the employee. Employee engagement will a positive impact through this performance measurement approach as the loop of appraisal and feedback is immediate in nature.


This report discussed the importance of effective human resource management and its various aspects. Skills, knowledge, and behavior requirements of a HR management in Unilever has been detailed out initially. This report makes use of the audit of personal skills to evolve towards a professional development plan which has learning goals, outcomes and development activities for the personnel assessed. Further the significance of learning, development and training is discussed in detail with a focus on the continuous professional development and learning cycle theories and the working of Unilever human resource management is examined in the light of the same. Finally, the report discusses how high-performance working influences employee engagement and ensures competitive advantage for the employers and in turn how a collaborative working environment and a proper appraisal system will contribute to a high-performance working culture.


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