The dominant role of English as a subject in school, the frenzy of overseas study, and the increasing demand of English in the job market due to internationalisation, all this boosts the popularity of English language education and the thriving of language training industry in China. Over the past 20 years, some language training schools become successful and gain national recognition in terms of teacher quality. Unlike traditional public schools, these private for-profit organisations adopt a complete different human resource strategy for teacher management, which is similar to the practices of Strategic Management of Human Capital (SMHC), which emphasises the vertical alignment between HRM and desired teacher competencies, and horizontal alignment within HRM practices.
Among all the language training schools, New Oriental School is the the largest and most influential private training company in terms of brand recognition, and it has the largest market share in foreign standardised tests training. (New Oriental Education & Technology Group, 2014) Being the leader in training sector, New Oriental has always been emulated at how to obtain, develop, and motivate teachers with desired performance competencies.
With the growing teacher number, to improve teaching performance competencies so as to assure the quality of teachers is crucial for language training institutions to survive and thrive in the fierce competition. In Beijing New Oriental School, a series of human resource practices are employed to manage teachers. Based on this example, the study attempts to probe into the whole HRM system and measure its effectiveness in improving desired teaching performance competencies. Therefore, the research question of this study is:
How effective is HRM practices in New Oriental School in improving desired teacher
To answer this research question, Competency Model and Model of HR Alignment (Heneman and Milanowski, 2011) is used to create analytical framework, and four sub-questions are derived:
By probing deep into the one of the most successful training schools, the research work explores what human resource practices are conducive to teacher competencies improvement, and finds out the impediment of implementation. The author hopes to offer constructive recommendations for New Oriental as well as reference for other educational organizations in China.
From the Iceberg Model of Competencies (Spencer & Spencer, 1993) and UNIDO’S Competency (2002), teacher competencies can be classified into four aspects: teaching skills, teacher’s knowledge, personal traits, and teacher’s motive. Likewise, these four aspects of competencies are grouped into two categories: 1) visible competencies (teaching skills and teacher’s knowledge) and 2) hidden competencies (personal traits and teacher's motive).
According to the functions of individual HR practice, the study will examine HRM practices in three areas: acquiring, developing, and motivating employees. Recruitment & Selection is the HR practice for employee acquirement. According to the time a employee has worked in an organization, development can be divided into two stages — induction and professional development. In the analytical framework, each stage represents all activities or programs for employee development. Performance management and compensation mechanism are HR practices that are used to motivate employees.
As the whole study is to analyse the relations between teacher competency and human resource management, Model of Human Resources Alignment (Heneman and Milanowski, 2011) will be used to design and structure interview questions. Vertical alignment analysis
will be conducted between each HR practice and teacher competencies in the four aspects, and horizontal alignment analysis within the HRM practices will also be carried out. Additionally, actual implementation of the HRM will also be analysed as another dimension for the study to measure effectiveness of HRM on teacher competence improvement.
The empirical research in the study is interested in an in-depth study (exploring teachers’ perceived influence of HRM practices so as to measure their effectiveness on teacher competencies improvement) within an educational institution — New Oriental School. Therefore, the research strategy is a case study. From the size and position in the company, NA Department is the prototype of New Oriental School, and thus it is chosen as the case for this research.
This study is primarily qualitative in nature, and data is collected from multiple sources through interviews with one project manager, three HR representatives, and eight teachers in a 3-stage process. In the first stage, internal documents (i.e. Beijing New Oriental New Teacher training Handbook (2013)) are analysed, and pilot interviews with a project manager and teachers are carried out. In this stage, all interviews are more of causal conversation. The data is used to identify desired teacher competencies and to map out the whole HRM practices in New Oriental. After the layout of HRM is unfold, interviews with HR representatives are conducted to obtain detailed information on each HR practice. In Stage 3, structured interviews with selected teachers are conducted to collect data on their perceived influence of every HR practice and its actual implementation. Meanwhile, some teachers are also asked to describe each HR practice so that supplementary information for sub-question 2 is procured. The teachers interviewed in Stage 1 and 3 are the same, meaning that each teacher has been approached by the author twice.
After the data is collected, a transcriptive summary of all interviews are produced. The code categories were derived from the desired teacher competencies identified in Stage 1 within Teacher Competencies Model. The author first perused all the data, then highlighted relevant
text (paragraph or sentences) with color coding within each HR practice. With the help of MaxQDA 11 and Numbers, the data and codes are analysed area by area, practice by practice. Based on the analysis, the interpretation of codes in each HR practice is presented and certain conclusions are made.
Based on Spencer & Spencer’s Iceberg Model of Competency (1993), teacher competencies are divided into four aspects: teaching skills, teacher’s knowledge, personal traits, and motive. Teaching skills include all kinds of techniques and methods that facilitate effective teaching and learning, like to motivate students and to impart knowledge in a clear way; teacher’s knowledge refers to command of English and understanding of the subject as well as knowledge in other fields that enriches the course content; personal traits include personalities that are conducive to teaching, among which, expression ability is most mentioned; motive here means one’s love or passion for English and teaching.
The human resource management in New Oriental is comprehensive and consists of recruitment & selection, induction, professional development, performance management, and compensation. According to their functions, they can be grouped into three areas: acquiring, developing, and motivating teachers. Induction is an intense and demanding period for new teachers. Four programs (Course Auditing, Critique Seminar, Mentoring, and New Teacher Training) are developed to support the growth of new teachers, while three programs (Teacher Seminar, Incumbent Teacher Training, and Open Lecture) are used in professional development to assist their further development. Performance management and compensation system are closely connected to each other: Without basic salary, a teacher’s monthly income consists of monthly lecture fee, which, to some degree, is affected by Teacher Scorecard, and bonus, which is completely determined by Teacher Scorecard and Student Score Improvement. In additional, wage rise is decided by the whole performance management system.
From the purpose, content and teacher’s perceived influence, the overall HRM is vertically aligned with desired competencies, especially in the aspect of teaching skills and knowledge.
Most teacher interviewees conclude that their motive and personal traits almost remain unchanged throughout the years in the company. Horizontally, the system is also aligned mainly by performance management’s linkage with practices in compensation, induction, and professional development. According the Model of HR Alignment, the HRM in New Oriental should be effective in improving teacher competencies.
However, the actual effectiveness is undermined by a third dimension — action dimension: the actual implementation of HR practices. In this study, quite a few problems are exposed in terms of design, organization, and regulation of these HR practices.
The next section will further elaborate the findings in three areas.
Via various tests to job applicants, Recruitment & Selection aligns closely with competencies in teaching skills, knowledge, and personal traits. With few HR practices aiming at improving or motivating teacher’s personal traits, the whole HRM system mainly rely on Recruitment & Selection to acquire teachers with desired personal traits.
But there are a few issues in the programs implementation:
Besides, there are also some issues in the implementation:
In the area of motivating teachers, all indicators in performance management are aligned with teacher competencies. Teacher Scorecard is effective in stimulating new teachers to improve teaching skills and knowledge, but its effect fades away as one teaches longer in the same subject, since their score is getting stable. As classes are getting smaller in accordant with the market demand, the reliability of Teacher Scorecard is challenged. Newly introduced Student Score Improvement effectively motivates teachers to adjust course content and add after-class service, but its data collection system is far from perfect and its corresponding bonus is lagging behind. Linking with principle of wage increase, contribution assessment has a bit effect in motivating teachers to participate more actively in some programs in development area.
Therefore, a teacher in New Oriental, once hired, grows quickly through various programs in the intense induction period, provided that s/he is not neglected and has no time conflict, and is motivated by Teacher Scorecard to continue improving desired competencies. But for further development, supports from the company is insufficient and ineffective. As s/he teaches longer and the classes gets smaller, motivation power from Teacher Scorecard gradually subsides. To continue to improve desired competencies relies largely on one’s self-motivation and personal effort.
Based on the study, the author would like to propose some possible topics for future research.
Odden, Allan and Kelly, James A.(2008). WHAT IS SMHC? . Strategic Management of Human Capital . UAS;
New Oriental Education & Technology Group. (2014). New Oriental Education & Technology Group. retrieve date: 02-04-2015，source: New Oriental : http:// www.neworiental.org/;
UNIDO (2002). Strengthening Organizational Core Values and Managerial Capability. UNIDO Competencies. Vienna;
Spencer, L.M and Spencer, S.G (1993). Competence at Work: Models for Superior Performance. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc;
Heneman III, H. G., and Milanowski, A.T. (2011). Assessing Human Resource Practices Alignment: A Case Study. Human Resource Management, 50(1), 45–64;
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