Measuring the performance of the human resource function
The performance of human resources and of every function of people management is perfectly measurable, according to a new book by Tonio Portughese.
Mr Portughese, director of human resources and external relations at ST's extensive Malta plant, demonstrates how a systematic measurement and assessment methodology normally applied in financial or technical/quality performances auditing systems can be implemented practically to a human resources measures concept.
Mr Portughese is a lecturer in performance management at the ST University in Aix-en-Provence, of which he is a founding member, and also lectures in management at the University of Malta's Faculty of Science.
Entitled "People Engagement For Business Excellence And Social Well-Being", the book presents practical field case studies, improvement tools, value-adding processes, and best practices. President George Abela writes the introduction.
Mr Portughese underlines the importance of "engaging" people more actively, encouraging staff members to join management in the pursuit of business targets as a way to realise their potential. The concept, he believes, is fundamental for business excellence, sustainability and social responsibility.
In the book, he explores the new creed of total quality and environment management, and illustrates his views on people and knowledge in re-engineered business models.
Mr Portughese also traces the evolution of the HR function from the 1980s, when it was limited to recruitment and personnel administration, through to the Noughties, when it widened to incorporate HR catalysts, technology drivers, and HR evaluators. The modern-day transformation is conducive to a highly motivated and competent workforce with a strong entrepreneurial spirit for business leadership, he points out.
Mr Portughese says the book is aimed at people who seek to understand human resource management and also those who would like to revisit the socio-economic situation in Malta in the 1970s and 1980s. The target audience also includes readers who play a part in the educational sphere who firmly believe, like the author, in the synergies between industry and education. Mr Portughese is a member of the governing board of MCAST and a former chairman of the Employment and Training Corporation.
The book is partly biographical: Mr Portughese takes the opportunity to highlight milestones in Maltese economic and political history in which he played a role. Mr Portughese joined the Malta Development Corporation as an investment promotion executive on the Italy Desk in the late 1970s. It was through this post that he met Pasquale Pistorio who was to become his mentor. Mr Pistorio had just been appointed managing director of the semi-conductor maker SGS Ates by Romano Prodi, later Italian Prime Minister and President of the European Commission.
Mr Portughese describes Mr Pistorio, the former corporate vice-president of Motorola, as "a real business leader, a role model and outstanding guru" who believed in Malta as an investment location. SGS Ates was at the time exploring the feasibility of an offshore plant in Malta to support its eventual sister operation in Catania.
Soon afterwards, Mr Portughese accepted Mr Pistorio's invitation to join him in the regeneration of the Italian state-owned semi-conductor company which had decided to open an assembly and testing plant here. It was the beginning of Mr Portughese's 30-year career with ST. In 1981, Mr Portughese was asked to chair the first-ever national televised debate between Prime Minister Dom Mintoff and Leader of the Opposition Eddie Fenech Adami at the height of the heated, confrontational election campaign. Mr Portughese describes the event as a valuable experience in communications skills. Several, never-seen-before photos accompany the case study.