En appliquant la notion de système aux institutions scolaires, l’auteur établit les grandes lignes de ce que serait une administration scolaire plus humaine et redéfinit le rôle de l'administration du personnel dans ce nouveau contexte.
Humanizing the School System : The Role of the Personnel Department
In the course of the last decade, many changes took place in the education system of the Province of Québec. A network of organizations was set up so complex that it is almost impossible for people to get an overview of the structure and functionning of the entire system.
The system concept is used because it invites people to focus their attention on the outputs or results to be achieved instead of looking only at the activities and the resources necessary for their accomplishment. Educating children and helping adults to adapt to a continuously changing environment are the main results that the population expects from its school system.
Personnel management in this context can be looked upon as a sub-system whose output is to provide productive, stable and motivated human resources. That is the way the role of the personnel department is usually defined.
The purpose in this paper is to reformulate the role of the personnel department in the light of a school system that can be made more human. But, first, is it possible to reach an agreement on what is meant by a « more human school system » ? I think a system is human when it gives to the people engaged in it the opportunity of growing, to develop themselves by doing meaningful work, that is, work that gives to somebody a feeling of self-identity and self-esteem.
Going back to Maslow's needs hierarchy and Herzberg's two-factor theory, it is possible to identify two levels of humanization of a school system. The first one encompasses the conservation needs and the conditions of work that could satisfy this category of needs. Herzberg calls these conditions « hygienic factors ». The second level comprises the growth needs of individual that could be fulfilled by « motivational factors », that is, conditions of work that enhance self-esteem and self-actualization.
Keep these two levels in mind, it is now possible to reformulate the role of a personnel department within a school system.
In the short-run, the personnel department must keep on providing services and assistance to other departments in the school system. These services (recruitment, selection, training, contract administration, compensation, etc...) are necessary to keep people within the system but fall short of motivating them to do their best. In performing this role, the personnel department help creating and maintaining working conditions that satisfy first-level needs of individuals.
But, the personnel department can perform a larger role by « getting out of the kitchen work and enter the living-room ». This means that the personnel department must get a broaden outlook and play the role of a « change-agent » within the entire system. This can be accomplished by helping people in authority position to question their philosophy and behavior about managing other people. This also implies helping to create conditions for growth or self-actualization at each level of the organization.
To play the role of internal change-agent, the personnel manager of educational institutions will have to be familiar with new ideas drawn from the behavioral sciences which are already put into practice in business and industry.