Human Resource is a term used to describe all the people working in an organization. Human resource management is the function within an organization that emphasizes on hiring and recruitment of employees, managing employees and giving them direction. Human resource management can also be preformed by various sectional/departmental heads also known as line managers.
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Therefore, the human resources manager oversees numerous issues touching on the employees and their welfare. Other issues handled by human resource department include compensation; performance management and appraisal; organizational development; motivation of employees; staff development; grievance and disciplinary; and communication among others (Banfield and Kay, 2008, p. 3; Gronn 2002, p. 425; Cappelli 2000, p.104).
Human resource management is also a tactical and all-inclusive approach to managing individuals and the organization culture and environment. Effective human resource management makes it possible for workers to contribute effectively and efficiently to the overall wellbeing of the organization and to the achievement of goals. Human resource management is currently moving away from the traditional methods of personnel management.
It is now integrating changes in the global business environment and the increased competition for human capital. Therefore, Human resource management is currently expected to add value to the employees to enable them cope with the present challenges and improve the competitive advantage of the company (Gilmore and Williams, 2009, p. 5). This essay aims at exploring a portfolio of subjects related to human resource management and reflecting them with the seminar activities.
Developing the practitioner
In order to maintain a competitive advantage and retention of high quality staff, companies must ensure that training and development of the human resources is given high priority. Investing in professional training guarantees stability and productivity in organization.
Training and development is the main instrument for breaking new ground; hence, bringing changes in an organization. One of the most significant aspects of human resource development is helping employees to become more effective in their work and to be able to adapt to other jobs within the company (Wexley & Latham 2002, p.12; Miller, 2010, p. 55).
In order to achieve individual and organizational objectives, human resource practitioners require principal skills. These skills and teamwork create a sense of shared responsibility and commitment to the objective. Organization development and employee relations are strong communication skills and high level of emotional intelligence, which enable the HR to ensure that employees always work together as a team and cross train on each other’s responsibilities (Torrington, Hall and Taylor, 2008, p. 7).
The seminar gave me the opportunity to strategize myself and to identify the personal goals I wanted to develop. My dream is to maintain high level of individual motivation and to focus my energy towards achieving my individual and organizational goals. I discovered how to manage time in a better way by planning everything in advance and improving my management, communication and decision making skills.
Therefore, I would like to further develop my skills and understand the importance of human resource management to help me pursue a career in this field once my studies are over. Human resources management is a challenging and exciting area of study in the corporate and business world today. The seminar helped me to understand the significance of managing human resources and its role in organizations.
Communication and meeting skills
The active participation and loyalty of the labor force is one of the major components that enable an organization to attain world class status and implement operations management strategies for instance Kaizen or just-in-time. This participation can only be achieved and maintained through effective communication.
The ability to relay information, for example the goals and objectives of the organization is viewed as the first step in achieving this commitment. When these goals and objective are effectively communicated to all employees within the organization, operational management strategies must be initiated to permit workers to play an active role in attaining these goals. Effective communication thus motivates employees to own the goals of the company and relate with each other productively (Business Studies, 2008, p. 4).
In the seminar, I had first hand experience of team work and exercised communication and meeting skills. Each team was divided into two groups with each doing the meeting, taking notes and giving feedback alternatively. I learned more about the communication skills in meeting.
The leader of the meeting was very confident. He engaged each member in the meeting by listening to all the opinions and discussed the ideas with others before making the final decision. We also got the feedback from the meeting of other groups which was very interesting and active. This will help me to sharpen my communication and meeting skills.
There are number of significant elements that make an effective presentation. First and foremost, effective presentation requires adequate preparation and planning.
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Preparation and planning involve setting up goals and objectives for the presentation, studying the audience, constructing the main points and assessing the presentation. Secondly, formulating the presentation structure; one must understand what he/she wants to present and how to present it and provide the information in a well structured format (Claudyne and Rotondo, 2002, p. 3).
In addition, presentation also calls for identification of key points that keep the audience engaged and interested. This involves the use of body language, great eye contact with the audience that helps in getting better view point, use of visual in a presentation, creating interest and establishing a rapport with the audience, use of rhetoric questions, and tonal variation and pronunciation among others.
Information must also be summarized to allow for enough time for the audience to ask questions. Responding to questions from the audience indicates confidence in the material presented (Comfort and Derek, 1996, p. 5).
In the seminar we were asked to provide a group presentation. Each member of the group was asked to present what they leaned from the communication skills exercise. Group presentation was a great experience for me since it made me discover my strong and weak points.
I learned that I had difficulty in communicating my ideas to the group than to individuals. I was shy and terrified of speaking in front of the group. I was also afraid of forgetting what I was going to say or that my mind would go blank. After the presentation I got the feedback from the tutor and other students which helped me to improve my presentation skills.
Training and Learning
Education is the act or method of passing on or acquiring knowledge, judgment or skills and a degree of intellectual development. On the other hand, learning is the act or process of acquiring these knowledge or skills. Personnel’s training is the improvement of the staff to enhance their performance.
Most organizations employ systematic approach to training. This is a technique for managing training programs and entails coherent approach is determining the type of knowledge required for a specific job or profession. Its starts by establishing staff’s work related requirements and delivering training properly. This approach employs constant assessment of the training program and it ensures that it meets the demand of the specific job or profession (Scully 2005, p. 10).
Systematic approach to training follows a specific training cycle. These stages include identification of the training requirements, designing training solutions, delivering the solutions, application of training in the court surrounding, and lastly assessing the training solutions. Strategic approach used in professional training and developments are more targeted, quantifiable and effective.
Increased flexibility in terms of delivery of training accommodates participant’s different styles of learning as well as their lifestyles. Training professional assesses the reaction, learning, behavioral change and valued added to the organization. Evaluation of the training interventions helps organization to establish the strength weaknesses of the training development approach used in an organization (Wexley & Latham 2002, p.12; Miller, 2010, p. 55).
Kolb et al., 1985 defined learning as a process of creating knowledge by changing experience. Learning process is classified into four phases which are re-entered as the cycle progresses.
Each cycle has different implications on training and learning. The four phases are experience, reflective observation, generalization (thinking), and active experimentation (action). This type of learning process is very useful in training although sometimes in can rather seem abstract particularly if the concepts are new to the learners (Kolb et al., 1985, p.10).
Constructive feedback offers information that contributes to the enhancement and creation of better outcomes. In a workplace scenario, it strengthens communication between the staff and the management, enhances performance, increase staff motivation and commitment, offer support and maintain confidence in employees.
In the seminar each member of the group was asked to come up with different extracts relating to effective training and development and the definition of learning styles. This gave me an opportunity to listen to different experience in training and success stories from students working in different professions. I also learned how to come up with good results using credible sources.
Equality and Diversity
Most organizations employ people of different gender, cultural background, nationality, and religion. Therefore, organizations must ensure that these employees maximize their potential without any form of prejudice or discrimination. They should employ strategies that accommodate diversity and ensure equality in the workplace.
Some organizations have developed diversity and equality units to facilitate cultural transformation throughout the organization with the objective of entrenching a culture of indulgence, consciousness, and progressive development in diversity and equality. Support from the top management is very important in setting up and resourcing the structures that promote diversity and equality but individual commitment also plays a major role (Blackburn and Hart, 2003, p. 60).
International Labor Organization chapter on Equality and diversity discourages discrimination of any form and this has been incorporated by most countries. In the U.S, there is a threshold set for companies with regard to hiring the vulnerable people in the society.
According to ISCO-68 (International Standard Classification of Occupation), the share of women working is a high ranking occupational group is established by the ratio of the total number of women employed in those positions. There must be at least one third of the total number of the top occupational employees. In addition, most governments have enacted laws that protect against all forms of discrimination (Cox, 2001, p. 7).
In the seminar we had a group presentation on equality and diversity of employees in Northumbria University. Our group made the pest presentation using slides and gave elaborate explanation on the subject. The presentation also included interesting videos related to the subject matter and question-answer moment. In this presentation I discovered that I had not only improved my presentation skills but also mastered the subject in question.
Recruitment and Selection
Recruitment and selection is a very important factor in human resource management. Those charged with the responsibility of recruiting new staff in a work organization act as the caretakers, thus ensures that only the chosen are fronted, managed and trained. Hence in the most elemental sense the decision to hire underscores the whole subject of human resource management.
Subjects related with exclusion from the workplace also underline the need for professionalism, equality and moral conduct on the part of those engaged in recruitment and selection.
Recruitment and selection plays a significant role in ensuring excellent staff performance and positive results in the organization. Selection of workforce is not only aimed at replacing the outgoing employees or adding new employees but also putting in place employees who can carry out there duties at a high level and show commitment (Gilmore and Williams, 2009, p. 55).
Recruitment and selection is normally presented as planned logical activity, encompassing certain serially-linked stages within a process of staff resourcing, which itself may be traced within the broader human resources management strategy. Recruitment involves generating a group of competent people to apply for the relevant job while selection entails the use of different types of instruments to choose the most suitable persons from the pool of applicants (French and Rees, 2010, p. 189).
During the selection process, making decisions based on the individual characteristics and appropriateness for the job at hand may prove to be a difficult task and normal selection techniques have some flaws. The effectiveness of a recruitment and selection technique is based on two elements; reliability and validity.
Reliability refers to the consistency of the results and validity touches on acceptability of the measures used, adequacy of the tool used and predictability of the results (French and Rees, 2010, p. 190).In the seminar we were told to bring three copies of job description, person specification and a job advert that is relevant.
I leaned how to evaluate and classify jobs, planning the recruitment process, attracting the relevant talents, assessing, selecting and appointing/ choosing the right person for the job. In short, I learned how to carry out a fair and effective recruitment and selection.
Performance Management and appraisal
According to Gusdorf (2009, pp. 13) performance management is the process of assessing the performance and evaluating the relative worth of employees within an organization. Performance appraisal focuses on the employee’s latest accomplishments and letdowns, individual strength and weaknesses, and appropriateness for promotion or additional training. Performance appraisal also encompasses performance based on consideration besides productivity.
The most common approach of performance evaluation is 360-degree appraisal which entails the use of numerical or scale by senior personnel to score an individual’s performance against the company’s objectives. In this case the senior officials of an organization collectively identify the common goals, define individual responsibility and expectation and use these measures to direct operations of different entities and assess employee’s contribution (Gusdorf, 2009, p. 12).
Every manager knows that employee’s performance is very critical to the overall wellbeing of the organization. Therefore, most organizations have moved beyond the traditional performance management approaches and are eliminating barriers to outstanding employee performance that exist in the work environment. To achieve outstanding employee performance, first you have to understand that this does not take place in vacuum.
Companies should discuss job description with their employees so as to reach an agreement on the expected performance and responsibilities. The discussion should include the critical aspect of the job and milestones/ deadlines. After that they should set up goal (s) for each job and for the process of improvement. The organization should also set up corporate culture and human resource policies that exhibit tolerance and promote human resource development (Dean, 1999, p. 7).
In the seminar we explored different aspect of performance management and appraisal. Each student was asked to do a thorough research on the subject and each came up with excellent explanations. The discussion also included first hand experience from those who were already employed or were employed earlier. Therefore, I learned about performance management and appraisal in the work place and proper ways of managing the organization, evaluating employees and supporting them to perform better.
Every employer expects employees to attend work on a regular basis without any form of disruption. Employees are also expected to create workplace conditions that are favorable to regular attendance. Despite of these expectations, employees may experience sickness or injury that can stop her/him from performing the assigned duties on a regular basis. These falls under non-culpable absenteeism since it is beyond the employee’s control.
On the other hand, culpable absenteeism is the form of absenteeism that is within the employee’s control and he/she should be held accountable for them. Examples of culpable absenteeism include lateness for work or leaving work early, failure to notify the company of absence, absence without leave, and abuse of leave (Otter, 2009, p. 3).
Too much absenteeism is very costly to the organization. By cutting just a third of impromptu absenteeism the company will be saved one percent of the payroll cost. It also inconveniences other members of the staff who are subjected to additional work/responsibilities (Suff, Mizon and Reid, 2006, p. 2).
Innocent absenteeism is addressed in a supportive and non-disciplinary manner. Counseling interview is usually done to bring to the workers attention to the impact of absenteeism on the organization and to other members of the staff. This is also done to motivate workers to enhance and sustain their level of attendance at work.
Counseling interview should targets employees with two successive quarters exceeding average absenteeism. This should be undertaken regularly after review of attendance summaries. Regular absenteeism just like other actions requires disciplinary actions. Disciplinary actions are undertaken after several warnings and it may even involve termination of contract (Otter, 2009, p. 4-5).
In the seminar we were taught about successful strategies for managing sickness absence in the workplace in organizations that we are familiar with. Some students also came up with strategies used in a number of multinational companies such as Mark Spencer, Unilever among others. In the second half of the seminar student’s role played different positions in the company including the manager, general employees and the observer.
The role-playing was aimed at finding different ways in which absenteeism can be handled by these categories of employees in an organization. I learned about the causes and value of absenteeism and its impact in the workplace. I also leaned about the appropriate ways that managers should undertake to minimize absenteeism in the organization and how they can motivate workers at the same time.
Counseling/mediation-developing skills for the workplace
At the workplace employees normally have individuals who require support and this necessitates effective counseling skills. This normally arises when a fellow employee requires help and support as a result of severe stress, personal and work grievances or bereavement that can affect his/her performance.
In many cases organizations do employ counseling officers to assist this category of employees. Workplace counseling requires a great deal of learning active and effective listening and responding skills. Workplace counseling also demands excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
The counselors should apply empathic and non-judgmental approaches when dealing with people under stress. Workplace counseling requires one to built trust and rapport in a limited but authentic manner. Its also involve development of self awareness and reflective interpersonal skills to enhance professionalism (Doherty, 2004, p. 4).
Many countries have enacted bills to encourage organizations and their workforce to employ constructive dialogue in resolving disputes and complaints. However, some organizations have set up internal dispute resolution mechanism and this may include mediation. Mediation is still new to most people and a number of organizations are still not sure of what it is all about or what it involves. Organizations normally use counseling and welfare services to provide mediation and counseling to its employees (Kidd, 1996, p. 10).
In the seminar we were asked to differentiate between counseling and mediation. At the beginning most students were confused about the two phrases since they are synonymous. However, after discussions and presentations, their definitions became clearer to us. Later on we were asked the role played by the human resource manager who is trying to assist and support an employee facing trouble in the workplace.
Therefore, from the seminar I came to understand the difference between mediation and counseling and how the human resource manager can listen and support employees who are facing numerous challenges which can affect their performance at work (Doherty, 2004, p. 5-6).
Grievance and Discipline
Since 2004 the law regarding disciplinary and grievance procedures have significantly changed. The new law set up the minimum procedure that must be followed prior to disciplinary action and by which employers and employees must adhere to when dealing with grievances. Failure to follow the minimum procedure can affect the admissibility of the claim or any form of compensation to be awarded.
The standard disciplinary procedures include investigation of the misconduct, issue of disciplinary letter inviting the culprit to the meeting to discuss the matter, an appeal after seven days of receiving the disciplinary letter, and lastly the disciplinary action. Disciplinary action also follows a distinct path; it starts with verbal warning, first written warning, final written warning and lastly dismissal with notice (Department of Trade and Industry, 2001, p. 6).
The main objective of grievance procedures is to promote acceptable dispute resolution. There are formal and informal grievance procedures. Informal procedures are normally sought so as to maintain a good working relations among the parties. Formal procedures are normally sought after the informal procedure fail to work.
Formal procedure involves writing/ recording grievance and providing the copy to the employer. After the employer has had sufficient evenhanded opportunity to respond to the query, a meeting is set between the two parties to discuss the matter. The meeting must be held within 14days after receiving the letter of grievance. Union representative may accompany an employee to the meeting. An employer can appeal or accept to take responsibility (Department of Trade and Industry, 2001, p. 8-9).
Skills needed to facilitate grievance and discipline in the workplace are the same as mediation skills and include listening skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills and conflict resolution skills among others. Those dealing with grievance and disciplinary procedures must be fair, give each party enough time to explain themselves, non-judgmental and should not victimize a party and should be able to handle the outcome confidently (Torrington, Hall and Taylor, 2008, p.41).
In the seminar we were taught about the main issues that cause grievances at work and they include: poor working condition, poor remuneration, work pressure, discrimination, personal conflicts, sickness attendance, and transfers among others. In the seminar we also learned of the common reasons why managers revoke discipline proceedings against employees.
Globalization and the increased operational and labor market challenges have made the human resource a major player in finding solutions to organizational problems. Human resources managers are in intense pressure to deliver business results while taking care of the functional costs.
They always try to unlock the main drivers that enhance the effectiveness of the human resource function at the same time having a huge impact on the organization. Research studies have shown that successful management of talent has a huge impact on the performance of the businesses. Companies that excel in attracting, engaging and retaining talents normally have the competitive advantage over its rivals in terms of sales, revenue and return on investment (Wexley & Latham 2002, p.14).
The only big challenge for the HR manager is establishing what drives effectiveness and efficiency. Studies have found out that despite of the organizational model, the HR business partner time and again explains the difference in effectiveness of the HR line support. HR business partners are those members of the staff who work with the departmental/sectional heads on talents and business and are mostly known as HR generalists.
This does not mean that other HR functions are useless. They are very important since they can be used for cost or expertise reason. However, the studies have also shown that if the organization has professional staff and shared service, even if the HR business partners underperform, it is still possible to build an effective partnership with line. As a matter of fact, the strategic partner’s role of HR business basically relies on the effectiveness of the HR support to line management (Wexley & Latham 2002, p.15).
In the seminar we were told to research and give a presentation on the role of HR business partner and how significant it is in the organization. The presentations covered numerous literatures on the subject and this gave me the opportunity to gain wider knowledge on the same. I learned that HR business partner plays a very significant role in the development and the overall success of the business. We also had chance to hear from the students who had worked in the HR department.
The tough challenges faced by managers in times of economic recession
During such a hard time leadership assessment becomes very significant. Most organizations normally use proven psychometric tests to establish the strength and weaknesses of their key employees during less stressful periods. This can also be done during tough times to check on the resilience of the employees.
Recession also offers the HR professionals with great opportunity to focus on the essentials of human capital management. This is the time for the managers to remind their employees of the significance of offering quality services to clients and creating greater effectiveness and efficiency to help the company through the difficult period (Keogh, J., 2006, p. 6).
This period calls for honesty and trust among the HR professionals to help in retention of employees and enhancement of efficiency. The success of any organization during the difficult time depends on the team spirit within the organization and the environment of trust among the employees. Lack of trust is linked to increased stress, low satisfaction and commitment, and low performance.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of the leaders to guide their organization towards recognizing and improving trust deficiencies. Their main concern should be fostering integrity on employees to increase flow of communication, efficiency and overall performance (Keogh, J., 2008, p. 3).
In the seminar we were also asked to research about the tough challenges facing the managers in the current economic recession. The findings were discussed in group and were also presented. One of the challenges facing managers is redundancy. I learned the skills required to tackle redundancy and change strategies that can be utilized in the workplace.
The ever changing global economy calls for new innovations and strategies in organizations in order to maintain competitive advantage. These include training and development of the human resource to enhance productivity and overall business performance. Organizations are taking huge risks by investing heavily on human resource training and development.
Business executives view innovation as one of their top most challenges. Many studies have found out that training and development is the main instrument for breaking new ground bringing changes in an organization.
High performing organizations nowadays are acknowledging the significance of using best training and development systems to improve their competitive advantage in the industry. Training and development of the human resource is a critical factor in any organization if the value and potential of the human resources are to be harnessed and grown. Many studies have underscored the apparent correlation between a soundly designed and strategic training and the overall success of the organization.
The general image of the industry and workers is also influenced by the level and quality of training and development. In our contemporary business climate most companies are faced with stiff competition for their quality staffs. Human resource experts asserts that companies which invests heavily on training and development benefits from enriched working environment with low level of staff exodus as well as enhanced productivity and organizational performance.
A change in the business environment is not a new thing. Since the 19th century and industrial revolution, companies have been tackling changes at an increasingly rapid level. The most respected professional are those that have been able to take advantage of the changes in the global business environment and the economy.
To avoid redundancy among the employees resulting from these changes, HR department have adopted training and development to meet the current demand. Some employees are also reassigned to other departments/unit where they are useful. Employees are also given support and motivation and are made to understand that they are not redundant but the job.
Communication skills are important in all aspects of the organization and most importantly in the organizational meetings. Effective means of communication coupled with excellent communication skills ensures that everyone is involved in deliberations and that they understand the agenda or purpose of the meeting. According to Edward Wertheim, majority of employees expend about 76% of their time in private communication with their colleges at the workplace. Thus, efficient communication- whether at personal, intergroup, intragroup, or external level- is a vital factor needed by an organization to drive and achieve its goals.
Effective communication enables vital information to be relayed in a manner and form that is easily deciphered by the person receiving it within an organization. Also workers are highly motivated to be productive when an organization adopts effective communication skills. A good presentation requires adequate preparation and research; this increases confidence.
Therefore, presentation requires clear and well organized structure. The seminar gave me the opportunity to enhance my interpersonal skills, communication skills and how to make excellent presentation. These skills are very important in life and in the work place.
Discriminations are common in the workplace especially those related to gender, disability, ethnicity/minority groups/ race, and recently HIV and Aids.
The first global report on discrimination, Time for Equality at Work, emphasized that the workplace is a strategic spot for freeing the society from social prejudice and discrimination. Therefore, discrimination can be easily and effectively dealt with in the workplace than any other social arena. Discrimination generates social and economic shortcomings that can result into inefficiency and disparate results.
Recruitment and selection plays an imperative role in shaping the performance and effectiveness of an organization, especially if the organization is able to acquire employees who already have appropriate knowledge, skills and ability and are able to accurately forecast their future capacity. Most selection and recruitment are based on the CV, telephone screening, recommendations, graphology, biographical data, psychometric tests and interviews.
Performance management is a holistic process which aims at organizing different facets including appraisal. Therefore, performance management is a more strategic process that is intended to attain high level of performance in the organization.
On the contrary, performance appraisal is more operationally focuses, with emphasis put on workers short term to medium term performance and development. Performance management is all about obtaining better outcomes from the organization, team and individuals as a result of understanding and managing performance with a given structure, standard and challenging demands.
Absenteeism can account to up to three percent of the company’s direct payroll costs. However, most organizations have failed to manage absenteeism effectively. Failure to track absenteeism means an organization is wasting funds/ resources.
Some organizations have deployed absence self services that monitors and analyzes impromptu absenteeism and provides reports on the same and therefore promotes productive working environment. Some organizations possess these technologies, but are yet to deploy it. Innocent absenteeism is addressed in a supportive and non-disciplinary manner while culpable absenteeism is addressed through a disciplinary/legal channel.
Counseling and mediation in the workplace are highly structured and is focused on finding solution to disputes based on the set principles and skills. Counselors’ experience and skills such as listening, communication, handling of emotions among others are necessary but mediation also requires conflict resolution skills which most counselors do not have. Nonetheless, mediators must be unbiased and should not take sides at all cost.
Mediation and counseling is used to solve disputes such as grievances, inequality, harassment/bullying, salary and wages among others. The new procedures on disciplinary and grievances have impacted on the way claim are defended or brought in the tribunal. The main purpose of amending these procedures was to reduce the number of cases finding there way into the tribunal.
Nonetheless, organizations and workers have struggled with the new laws and the governments are still consulting if these rules can be amended. Nevertheless, at this minute they remain in force and have to be abided. What normally prompts grievances and disciplinary actions in organizations include time keeping, absenteeism, violation of company policies, and crime. The seminar gave me an opportunity to gain more knowledge on the disciplinary and grievance procedures.
Studies have also shown that HR must effectively collaborate with business line management to attain talent results. Real strategic value does not originate from conformity, helps administration or operation efficiency.
These roles and duties are very significant, but for the HR to have a reasonable impact on the organization, it must collaborate with business line management to drive talent results. The studies established that effective HR line support can enhance workers performance by over 20% and workers retention by about 30%. In addition, HR line support can increase revenues and profits by 10 percent.
There is a common saying that reads “tough times calls for tough measures”. The world currently is experiencing tough economic times resulting from the global recession of 2007/2008. In such scenario it is vital for organizations to reflect on how they are going to retain and motivate their workers while at the same time staying on the budget.
Regardless of the speedy reaction of several businesses, human capital is not dispensable during a recession. Such challenging economic time normally calls for tough decisions. Therefore, human resource department usually find themselves in pressure to manage rapid changes in the organization which may involve cutting cost, staff training and development, selecting workers for redundancy, in addition to hiring new consultants to help the organization to survive the recession.
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