SHRM is the pattern of planned human resource developments and activities intended to enable an organisation to achieve its goals (Wright and McMahan). This means accepting the HR function as a strategic partner in both the formulation of the company’s strategic, as well as in the implementation of those activities through HR activities. While formulating the strategic plan HR management can play a vital role, especially in identifying and analysing external threats and opportunities. (Environmental scanning) that may be crucial to the company's success. HR management can also offer competitive intelligence (like new incentive plans being used by competitors, data regarding customer complaints etc.) that may be helpful while giving shape to strategic plans. HR function can also throw light on company's internal strengths and weaknesses. For example, IBM's decision to buy Lotus was probably prompted in part by IBM's conclusion that its own human resources were inadequate for the firm to reposition itself as an industry leader in networking systems (Dessler). Some firms even develop their strategies based on their own HR- based competitive advantage. Software Majors, Wipro, TCS have not slowed
down their recruitment efforts during the lean periods, pinning hopes on their own exceptionally talented employee teams. In fact they have built their strategic and operating plans around outsourcing sourcing contracts from US, Europe, Japan and Germanywhich would help them exploit the capabilities of their employees fully.
HR has a great role to play in the execution of strategies. For example, HDFC's competitive strategy is to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering superior customer service at attractive rates (searching the right property, finishing legal formalities,
offering expert advice while negotiating the deal, competitive lending rates, fast processing of applications, offering other financial products of HDFC at concessional rates, doorto- door service as per customers’ choice etc. (HDFC's growth architecture, Business Today, Jan 6, 2001). Since the same basic services are offered by HDFC's competitors such as LIC Housing Finance GIC Housing Finance, banks and private sector, players like Dewan Housing Finance, Ganesh Housing, Live Well Home, Peerless Abassan etc. HDFC's workforce offers a crucial competitive advantage (highly committed, competent and customer-oriented workforce). HR can help strategy implementation in other ways. It can help the firm carry out restructuring and downsizing efforts without rubbing employees on the wrong side- say, through outplacing employees, linking rewards to
performance, reducing welfare costs, and retraining employees. HR can also initiate
systematic efforts to enhance skill levels of employees so that the firm can compete on
quality. Globalisation, deregulation and technological innovation have- in recent times- created
the need for rather, faster and more competitive organisations. Under the circumstances,
employee behaviour and performance is often seen as the best bet to push competitors
to a corner and enhance productivity and market share. HR practices build competitiveness because they allow for strategic implementation, create a capacity for change and instil strategic unity.
Competitive advantage refers to the ability of an organisation to formulate strategies to
exploit rewarding opportunities, thereby maximising its return on investment. Competitive advantage occurs if customers perceive that they receive value from their transaction with an organisation. This requires single-minded focus on customer needs and
expectations. To achieve this, the organisation needs to tune its policies in line with changing customer's requirements. The second principle of competitive advantage derives from offering a product or service that your competitor cannot easily imitate or copy. An organisation should always try to be unique in its industry along dimensions that are widely valued by customers. For example Apple stresses its computers’ usability, Mercedes Benz stresses reliability and quality; Maruti emphasises affordability of its lower-end car Maruti 800. In order to enjoy the competitive advantage, the firm should be a cost-leader, delivering value for money. It must have a committed and competent workforce. Workers are most productive if (i) they are loyal to the company, informed about its mission, strategic and current levels of success, (ii) involved in teams which collectively decide how things are to be done and (iii) are trusted to take the right decisions rather than be controlled at every stage by managers above them (Thompson). A good
team of competent and committed employees will deliver the goals if the are involved in all important activities and are encouraged to develop goals that they are supposed to achieve. In recent years, a new line of thinking has emerged to support this view-known as strategic human resources management (SHRM).

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