Crucial role of HR in the services sector

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Cavelle Joseph-St Omer

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The Human Resource Management Association of T&T (HRMATT) extends hearty congratulations to the new board of directors of the T&T Coalition of Services of Industries (TTCSI). We further express our best wishes to newly elected president Dianne Joseph, as she takes up the responsibilities and challenges of leading the services sector. 

  The HRMATT membership is particularly proud of our vice president, Kimberly Chan-Boodram, who now represents the organisation as an elected TTCSI director. We are delighted to see Kimberly’s career progression and thrilled for her as she assumes additional responsibilities in this role. Chan-Boodram is a business executive who spent most of her career leading the human resource and industrial relations departments in various companies, with over 12 years’ experience. She is also responsible for strategic business partnerships in her substantive organisational role. We are confident that Kimberly will continue to encourage our proud tradition of collaboration in worthwhile economic, social, technical, legal and business causes. Kimberly expressed her own enthusiasm for continuing to advance HRMATT’s agenda for the development of our human capital. 

While chatting with TTCSI president Joseph last week, she expressed her satisfaction with having an HRMATT representative serve on TTCSI’s board. President Joseph further stated, “The TTCSI is pleased to be a part of the activities of our member, HRMATT. Indeed, your work has been in the forefront of human resources and has been an indisputable factor in bringing awareness to both employers and employees.” 
We further discussed our upcoming C-Suite Conversations, where attention will centre on the topic of productivity. TTCSI CEO Vashti Guyadeen is a panellist. President Joseph added, “We look forward to your ongoing conversations on “productivity”.  This is indeed a critical factor as there may be various reasons that contribute to high or low productivity.

A conversation of this type is well-timed. This moreso, that it is imperative for us to get to the root cause of both—the high and low aspects of productivity. In this way, as leaders, we will be equipped with appropriate data that may lead to the development of policy guidelines to strengthen the weaker areas and to sustain those that are strong.” 
President Joseph further expressed her commendation for the work HRMATT has been doing. She is a firm believer in collaboration and further expressed, “As president of the TTCSI, I wish to commend the work of HRMATT and look forward to your continued good work; more importantly, your collaboration with us.”  

Some people may wonder about the role of HR in the services sector and why HRMATT thought it necessary to have a voice at TTCSI. We acknowledge that increasingly, service firms are pursuing strategies that feature a greater customer orientation. In the implementation of these strategies, service firms appreciate that getting customer-oriented behaviours from their employees is critical. Because these behaviours are often different from those exhibited by the employees in the past, service firms must now utilise their human resource practices to stimulate and reinforce the behaviours needed for the successful implementation of greater customer-oriented strategies. 

The T&T economy can be carved into a large number of industry sectors, but the distinction between manufacturing-based and service-based industries is one of the most basic and visible, especially given the level of advocacy we have seen from both associations representing such firms.
Service organisations are described as differing from manufacturing organisations in three ways: (1) their “products” are intangible rather than tangible; (2) customers are actively involved in the production of services; and (3) the consumption of services occurs simultaneously with their production.

The intangible nature of services means that performance is difficult for supervisors to monitor directly, so employees must be trusted to monitor their own performance. The fact that customers are actively involved in the service production process means service providers must be sensitive to clients’ needs; they must monitor these needs and use the cues they receive from clients to guide their job behaviours.  
It is for this reason HRMATT encourages employers to invest more resources to train new recruits, to socialise them to be effective monitors of their own service production behaviours.  

Another option for service firms can be an examination of how they select staff for these roles. A further way to gain more control over performance would be to use performance appraisal results in making compensation decisions. Job design practices could also be used to enhance service quality. Enriched jobs should encourage self-monitoring because employees then feel a greater sense of responsibility for their performance and they are more aware of their significance to the organisation.   
It is this line of reasoning that suggested to HRMATT that we should be more involved in the services sector. We recognised that we can contribute positively to the improvement of practices that are more prevalent in service-based organisations.

Similar to sentiments expressed by TTCSI president Joseph and director Chan-Boodram, we are all collectively eager to work together collaboratively to foster an empowered and more equipped services sector. 

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