Personnel Management is a Staff Function

Since the top management believes that organizational success depends on sound management of human resources, it provides specialized assistance to line managers through personnel managers. Thus, personnel managers are created for the purposes of providing assistance, advice and information to line managers in order to relieve them from the burden of management of personnel and to allow them to concentrate on their technical operations. Personnel managers perform the various functions of personnel management viz., employment training, developments wage and salary administration, motivation, grievance redressal of workers’ participation in management and collective bargaining. Also personnel managers perform certain staff functions relating to management of personnel like advising assisting, guiding suggesting counseling and providing information to line managers. Personnel management therefore is a staff function.

However, the final responsibility for the management of personal still rests with line managers. Personnel management is a line management responsibility while retaining the role of being a staff function.

Staff Role of the Personnel department

The personnel department in relation to other departments and managers performs the following roles:

Policy initiation an formulation: One of the important functions of the personnel department is formulation of new personnel policy and alteration or modification of the existing personnel policies. The personnel manager has to initiate modification or formulation of new policies. He assists, advises and counsels the managing director regarding implication in formulation and modification of all major or crucial policies. He may be authorized by the managing director to formulate or modify minor policies.

Advice: The major activity of the personnel department or manager is advising, counseling managers operating at various levels (junior, middle and top) regarding problems, issues and clarifications concerning policies or people of their respective department / sections. Advice should be based on thorough thinking, analysis and research regarding pros and cons implication during and after execution possible measures to be taken etc.

Service: Personnel department renders all secretarial and executive services and performs background work in all personnel activities regarding recruitment, receiving and scrutinizing applications conducting tests, interviews, placement, induction, training, compensation management and management of industrial relations.

Monitor and control: Personnel department monitors performance and controls line activities to the extent they are related to personal issues. It compares the actual performances of line managers what the established personnel policies, procedures and programs. It also identifies and informs the deviations with possible alternative solutions to the line managers. It envisages appropriate corrective action and advises the managing director to modify the policies (if necessary) based on what transpires in the process.

Organization of Personnel Department

The internal structure of a personal department depends on various factors such as nature and size of the organization, managerial preferences to structure operations clearly external forces etc. Small firms have only a single section, headed by a personnel officer taking care of everything. Medium sized firms may create a separate personnel department having experts in the personnel field supported by administrative staff. In large firms the structure of a personnel department may take various shapes, depending on organizational resources, competitive pressures and total employee strength. Let us examine this in detail.

Personnel Department in Line Organization:

Line structure is more common in small firms. In this structure authority flows in a direct line from supervisors to subordinates. Each employee knows who his superior is and who has the authority to issue orders. Managers have full authority (line authority) in their areas of operations and are responsible for final results. Line authority implies the right to give orders to have decisions implemented. The one man one boss principles is observed strictly. Authority relationships are clear and there is strict discipline as persons working at lower levels can have access to higher level officers only through their immediate bosses.
Excerpts from Human Resources Management by VSP Rao

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