Human resource management practices can make or break an organization, especially an organization that daily operations are dependent upon volunteers (American Alliance of Museums, 2013). Effective human resources provide an organization with a competitive advantage in a working environment and have a positive correlation the job satisfaction of employees and volunteers (Barbwire, 2004). Effective and successful human resource management may also increase organizational success while reducing intentions of quitting and negative word of mouth of employees Argali, Aback & Seek, 2006).
If human resource management mechanisms do not work effectively and efficiently, an employee will lack commitment and loyalty toward the organization (Barbwire, 2004). I was one of the five paid employees at the museum. There was not much diversity when it came to race. I was the only minority employed and was also the youngest paid employee. The majority of the employees were Caucasian and between the ages of 50 and 80 years old. One employee of the museum was mentally disabled who was hired through a special program in the county. The rest of he museum staff is comprised of regular volunteers and two high school student interns.
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Usually if a museum has no paid staff the museum board is responsible for the volunteer human resources. However, for museums with paid staff, the responsibilities of the museum board in managing the human resources are extended to the executive museum director or a senior staff member becomes responsible for managing all other staff and volunteers of the museum (Merritt, 2008). When I began volunteering at the museum the acting executive director was responsible for managing the employees and volunteers at the museum. The acting executive director had previously served as a business manager and had a background in human resource management.
Issues in Museum Human Resource Management The museum was in a state of crisis and was at risk of closing their doors. The museum was in financial turmoil and had lost the support of the community. The museum needed someone who would revamp its structure to bring in more revenue and support to keep the doors of the museum open. The museum needed an executive director who had the necessary experience and skill set to handle the specific problems the museum was having at the mime. In 1 999 the acting executive director was tasked with finding the best candidates to bring before the museum board.
The museum board compiled a list of qualifications, education requirements and level of experience that candidates had to have and as well as a list of preferred qualifications. The acting executive director used the criterion that was decided upon to find qualified candidate whom she brought before the board; however, the museum board did not choose one of the candidates. An individual with no experience with museums or non-profit organizations was hired solely based pony his familial relation to one of the members of the museum board.
The executive board often undermined the new museum director’s authority making it difficult for her to do her job. There was an incident when a donor wanted special treatment for his daughter who was applying for an opportunity sponsored by the museum. The executive director explained to the donor that the best applicant would be chosen regardless of their affiliation with the museum. Later she was told that she had to choose the donor’s daughter for the opportunity because the museum was at risk of losing his financial support.
The lack of fairness created by the nepotistic acts Of the board caused various problems within the workplace and in the community. Nepotism can cause employees to have less incentive to perform their responsibilities diligently and proficiently if they feel that the path to promotion is undermined by nepotism (Barbwire, 2004). When human resource issues arose within the museum the executive director did not effective handle the situations because she wanted to keep the board happy even if it meant ignoring employment laws and policies.
She was also told by the museum board not to hire males or select male interns no matter owe qualified they were for the position. She was also told to have different disciplinary actions for certain employees and she complied with the wishes of the board members. There were also an incidents when employee brought forth sexual harassment accusations against that a recent hire who was a friend of the executive director and related to the member of the board. The executive director investigated a charge of sexual harassment herself with the involvement of the museum board member to whom the accused was related.
This was unethical because of the conflict of interest. Conflicts of interest undermine judgment and threaten the reputation of businesses (Argali, Aback & Seek, 2006). Even the perception of a conflict of interest can cause problems because the integrity of the individual’s actions and decisions can be called into question. For human resources to be effective employees must feel that they can go to the human resource professional with their concerns and be able to trust the human resource professional.
It is difficult to gain trust in human resource professionals because they are trying to keep their bosses happy as well so that they can retain their own employment Argali, Aback & Seek, 2006). Museum board members were not versed in employment law and failed to follow the organization’s policies and code of ethics. During this time when the museum board was doing things and allowing incidents where the human resource managers was taken away employees began to question her abilities to be effective, to solve issues within the workplace and be ethical.
Members of the community and other individuals outside of the museum also began to view the museum negatively once again. Consumers and the public normally disapprove of the mistreatment of a business’s employees (Barbwire, 2004). When business maintains high standards of ethical behavior they are perceived to be positive and more likely to be patrons of the business. Change in Leadership In 2001 , many of the board members were voted off of the board and the executive director resigned.
The board was tasked once again with finding an executive director. It was difficult finding candidates for the position because of the museum board’s history of nepotism and the negative comments past employees made about the museum’s management. The board finally found an individual who was qualified after they advertised the opening nationally. The new executive director was chosen because of his experience with museums and non-profit organizations that were not doing well financially and were not getting much support from the community.
He had a record for getting these organizations out of financial trouble and creating community based programs to gain support of the community. What really makes him a great executive director is that he is not afraid to go against the board to advocate for employees, uphold policies ad remain ethical. The new director compiled all of the museum’s policies and regulations into books for each employee and volunteer and make certain that everyone was aware of how the museum was to run and how employees and volunteers were to carry themselves while at the museum.
He also implemented a new way of training new employees and volunteers and created detailed job descriptions and job titles for every job position at the museum. Having detailed job descriptions is an integral part of human resources because they are the foundation for most human resource management activities such as recruitment, applicant selection, the training of employees, determining compensation, and assessing and managing the job performance of employees (Cultural Careers Council Ontario, 2006).
After creating job descriptions the director also assessed the talents and skills of the employees and volunteers and placed them in positions that were more suited for their specific abilities. Having the right individuals performing the right jobs increased productivity and the overall successfulness Of the museum. The director also handled many employment law compliance issue such as employees and volunteers not taking lunch breaks, making sure employees were back paid for overtime ours, creating a space for nursing mothers and making necessary accommodations for staff members with physical and mental disabilities.
He also held team meeting where employees and volunteers were able to share their ideas and suggest changes. Although it did not happen overnight, the change in leadership and the management of human resources brought about a more diverse positive work environment where all of the staff supported each other.