Meritocracy: path, challenges and opportunities.

Posted by Driely Barbosa
at Tuesday October 7th, 2014.

To achieve results it is necessary for the company to have professionals who have technical and behavioral skills consistent with business needs. But this is not enough to stand out and ensure market space. It is essential that people are engaged and present a delivery, a daily commitment that make the difference. However, the talents expect the organization give them something in return and this can be translated as recognition of the effort that each professional directs its activities and ensures thus the achievement of goals.

Given this expected return that talent aims, there are companies that choose to adopt the meritocracy – system based on reward and provide various forms of recognition, regardless of the relations of friendship, kinship or safety nets. That is, the focus is the merit of each professional. To explain the criteria of merit system and its benefit, interviewed Marcelino Tadeu de Assis, university professor and author of five books directed to Human Resources Management and whose latest title is “Meritocracy: Equal and Fair or unfair, but desirable, “Publisher Qualitymark.

According Marcelino Tadeu de Assis, meritocracy has more to do with the path taken by the managers with the assumptions of business management that determine specific actions in the field of Personnel Management. “There is merit in a strong relationship with the drivers associated with the conduct of actions involving the human capital and how processes are conducted in the various HR subsystems,” he adds. Check out the full interview and good reading!

HR – What is the basis of the merit system?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – It is important to note, first, that different people understand differently also the idea of meritocracy. We have here a clear concept, such as the lack of clarity regarding the various expressions or terms associated with the management. In general, however, a significant part deals with the issue as one in which the rewards and the various forms of recognition do not take into account relations of friendship, kinship or safety nets. This view, though simplistic, can be the first step for a little broader understanding.

HR – What differs meritocracy of other reward systems?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – Meritocracy is not a reward or even a form of recognition. Meritocracy has more to do with the path taken by the managers with the assumptions of business management that determine specific actions in the field of Personnel Management. There is merit in a strong relationship with the drivers associated with the conduct of actions involving the human capital and how processes are conducted in the various subsystems of Human Resources.

HR – Meritocracy is really democratic?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – This is a complex issue and perhaps deserves at least two distinct visions. The first involves the public sphere and the necessary social focus. The second is the private sphere, in need of income and economic and financial return in the short, medium and long term. As an assumption of management, we have two paths with important differences, as I point out in my book. Corporate management should be treated in many ways, differently from the management of public affairs, more conducive to reflections on democracy and government environment.

HR – The meritocratic system can be applied by any organization or are there restrictions?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – If we understand that there is no single definition is possible to adopt – based on one of the assumptions – in any organizational environment. There is, however, generic answers to be given. To some extent you can go forward with that depth. However, only a serious discussion can show if one of the possibilities of meritocracy answer key business questions. Family or paternalistic culture organizations, in general, may bump into some aspects, but there is always opportunity for advancement.

HR – What benefits meritocracy offer?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – From the point of view of a private organization and for profit, the idea of meritocracy – even here its positive bias – can contribute to greater focus on professional relationships, rather than overly subjective and discretionary conditions. The presence of the discussions on the subject can stimulate progress in reducing prejudice, segregation of some type of profile and the like. Among the benefits, to assist in the consolidation of corporate governance, strengthening of the ombudsman levels and reflections on sustainability.


RH – We can say that
meritocracy can become a pillar for the retention of talent?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – Retention is another difficult one, since there are many reasons, internal and external, that influence evasion, turnover, stay or even the lack of commitment. Discussion on merit are always welcome and in that sense, this is perhaps the greatest contribution of the debates on meritocracy.

HR – What are the main barriers that organizations are to establish meritocracy?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – There are many difficulties. The formation of Brazilian culture, as shown by several authors, gives us insight into the difficulties of meritocracy in the management of organizations operating in Brazil, whether public or private. The cultural issue is important in this context is particularly important if we consider the formation of the Brazilian people. If transparency is also one of the requirements, many organizations – for different reasons – collide in this regard? How many, for different reasons, adopt individual decisions rather than decisions based on collegiate decision or groups?

HR – What are the basic criteria that a company must meet to adopt meritocracy?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – First, I believe, understand what is or should be considered meritocracy and, in each case, the contribution of these management assumptions for business this or that organization. What may be good in one context may be bad in another context. What suit determines culture, it may be inappropriate to another culture. What is desired somewhere, is not necessarily in any desired place.

HR – In your opinion, meritocracy is well disseminated among Brazilian organizations?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – We have a long way to go, as humanity and as observers of merit. We are, in this context, permanently agents and participating organizations that in one way or another, reward and recognize. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages is a necessary way, but really hard. There are many possibilities, challenges and limitations associated with managing the base salary, short-term financial incentives, long-term incentives and different approaches involving individual recognition or collective.

HR – As the HR complex is inserted into the meritocratic process?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – All observed lead us to conceive of meritocracy as a process or way linked to management in general and people management in particular. Thus, all discussions are the structures, processes, policies, and professional drivers focused on the management of Human Resources.

HR – In August, you will launch the book “Meritocracy: Equal and Fair or Unfair, but Desirable?”. What is the main objective of this work?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – analyzed hundreds of scientific papers written by Brazilians and foreigners, but none of these works brought the perception of HR executives on the topic. The main objective of the research was to capture perceptions, opportunities and challenges of meritocracy in the business context. In a way, this book is aligned with the two books of my own launched in 2011 and 2012 by Editora Qualitymark, in which explored human resources management indicators and pillars of management compensation programs in Brazil, with emphasis on the different mechanisms reward and recognition, financial and non-financial.

HR – Your book may be a guiding for organizations that want to deploy meritocracy?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – I would pretend that my book is a guiding action for review of this or that model. I prefer to believe, more conservatively, that the book is a very wide source of reflections, for walks origin of the term, by Michel Young, to the present day. My work presents the different interpretations of meritocracy, both as something that seeks equality of opportunity and relative sense of justice, even as something inappropriate, unfair and counterproductive in terms of sustainability.

HR – What message would you let for companies that feel fear of establishing a merit system?
Marcelino Tadeu de Assis – Let them read the book, I will cast next August and try to understand the opportunities and challenges of meritocracy in the organizational context. Organizations to analyze what is gained, for surely there are gains, and what is lost as there are also losses. This balance can be stimulated by the book.

By Patricia Bishop for

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