Organizing the Personnel Function

When people gather together and formally agree to combine their effort for a common purpose, organizations begins to take shape. According to classical theorists (Fayol, Taylor, Weber) structure is essential to achieve stated goals. The manager determines work activities in order to get the job done. He writes job descriptions, parts people into groups and assigns them to superiors. He then fixes goals and deadlines and establishes standards of performance. Operations are controlled through a reporting system. The whole structure takes the shape of a pyramid. Thus the term organization structure describes the organization’s framework. It reveals the established pattern of relationship among the constituent parts of the organizations. The process of creating an organizational structure is known as organizing. It is the process by which employees, facilities and tasks are related to each other in order to achieve goals. An organizational structure specifies formal reporting relationships between members, which can be a line or a staff relationship.

Line Relationship:

The relationship existing between two managers due to delegation of authority and responsibility and giving or receiving instructions or orders is called line relationship. Thus, line relationship generally exists between a superior and a subordinate. Line refers to those positions of an organization which have responsibility and authority and are accountable for accomplishment of primary objectives. Managers identified as line are not subject to command by staff personnel. In case of disagreement between line and staff, the line manager has the right to make final operating decisions.

Line authority represents uninterrupted line of authority and responsibility running through the management hierarchy . In other words the board of directors delegates authority to the managing director, who in turn, delegates a part of his authority to the general manager. The general manager in turn delegates authority to different departmental heads and through them to the supervisors. However, the line managers are completely responsible and accountable for the results achieved by the employees of the respective departments and sections. This means that though authority is delegated responsibility for section taken by a subordinate still rests with the superior.

Staff relationship:

The staff concept is probably as old as the organization itself. It is virtually impossible for line executives to perform all their functions and concentrate on their organizational activities. They naturally compel them to secure advice and help from specialists. Staff relationships make this possible. The relationships between a line manager and the staff authority are advisory, which means that the staff, a supporting unit, recommends action or alternative actions to the line manager. Catch phrases like Staffs have the authority of ideas lines have the authority of command. Staff thinks lines do work. Staff advise lines work have gained credence over the years. However, staff authority should not be confined to merely advisory roles or recommending activities alone. According to McFarland a staff manager helps serve, investigate plan, solve special problems, and support line effort provide ideas and have special expertise.

Personnel Management is a line responsibility:

It is widely felt that Personnel management is a line manager’s responsibility but a staff function. As discussed earlier, the responsibility of line managers is to attain the goals of their respective departments by striking a harmonious balance between resources facilities and personnel . Since management implies getting things done by and through people, the responsibility of managing people rests with line managers. Attaining overall organizational goals is the responsibility of the general manager through proper management of personnel and with the help of different heads of departments. In turn, management of personnel in different departments is the responsibility of the concerned functional heads. In the same way, first level managers are also responsible for managing employees in their respective sections and at same time working towards achieving their respective sectional goals. Thus personnel management is a responsibility of all line managers. In this sense every manager is a personnel manager.

Source: HR Management