Personnel Management in a Steel Plant

Personnel Management in a Steel Plant

Personnel management in a steel plant is concerned with obtaining, organizing, utilizing and motivating the human resources needed by the steel plant. It develops requisite organizational climate and management styles to promote effective effort of cooperation and trust amongst all the employees of the steel plant. It aims at getting effective results by organizing and directing the co-operative efforts of human beings. This also helps the organization in meeting its legal obligations and social responsibilities.

Personnel management is an extension of the general management in the organization. It is concerned with promoting and stimulating competent work force so that they can make their fullest contribution to the organization for the achievement of its objectives and goals.  It exists to advise and assist the top management and the line managers regarding personnel matters. Hence personnel department functions basically as the staff department of the organization.

Definition and roles of personnel management

Personnel management can be defined as obtaining, using and maintaining a satisfied workforce. It is a significant part of management concerned with employees at work and with their relationship within the organization.  The following are the definitions of personnel management as given by the management experts.

“Personnel management is the planning, organizing, compensation, integration and maintenance of people for the purpose of contributing to organizational, individual and societal goals.” – Flippo

“Personnel management is that part which is primarily concerned with human resource of organization.” – Brech

The main features of the roles of the personnel management (Fig 1) as it is applicable today were in place by the end of the 1970s and are summed up by Cannel (2004) as follows.

  • The collective bargaining role – It is centred on the dealing with trades unions and the development of industrial relations strategies.
  • The implementer of legislation role – it implies understanding and implementing of a growing amount of legislation.
  • The bureaucratic role – It concerns with the implementation of a series of rules about behaviour at work, dealing with recruitment, managing absence, and so on.
  • The social conscience of business role – This role represents personnel department as the value champion. This role is regarding taking care of the welfare of the work men.
  • A growing performance improvement role – It is about integrating the personnel function with the organizational needs and taking a more strategic view.

Roles of personnel management

Fig 1 Roles of personnel management

Personnel management can be viewed as a set of activities focusing the coordination of human resources in the organization. It can be said that personnel management, at its best, is the art and science of correct selection, methodical development and effective utilization of the work force. Thus the primary function of the personnel department of the organization is to contribute an essential service to the general efficiency of the organization by obtaining and retaining an effective and efficient work force.

Broadly, personnel management functions are described as the decisions and the actions of the management which directly affect or influence people as members of the organization rather than as job-holders. In other words, personnel management is not executive management of the individuals and their jobs. Management of specific tasks and responsibilities is the concern of the employee’s immediate supervisor or manager – that is, the person to whom his performance is accountable.  So the personnel managers do not have line authority over the employees.

The specific objectives which define the general role of personnel management can be described under the following four headings.

  • Objectives regarding the framing of the personnel policies – Personnel managers frame the organizational personnel policies which guides the employees in their day to day work.
  • Staffing objectives – it concerns with ‘getting the right people in the right jobs at the right times’. It is the recruitment and selection and proper placement of the work force, but increasingly these days, it is also the advising on subcontracting and outsourcing of the work force. Staffing also concerns with the managing of the release of employees from the organization, for example, resignation, retirement, dismissal or redundancy.
  • Performance objectives – Personnel managers have a part to play in assisting the organization to motivate its employees and ensure that they perform well. Training and development, reward and performance management systems are all important here. Grievance and disciplinary procedures are also necessary.
  • Employee benefits objectives – These objectives include terms of employment, methods and standards of remuneration, working conditions, amenities and employee services, as well as the employee involvement initiatives. The problems and grievances of the employees at work can be solved more effectively through rationale personnel policies.
  • Change management objectives – These include employee relations/involvement, the recruitment and development of personnel with the necessary leadership and change management skills, and the construction of rewards systems to support the change.
  • Administration objectives – These objectives include the maintenance of accurate data of employee with respect to, for example, (i) recruitment, contracts and conditions of service, (ii) performance, (iii) attendance and training, (iv) ensuring organizational compliance with legal requirements, for example in employment law and employee relations, and (v) health and safety of the personnel etc.
  • Objectives regarding maintenance and effective use of facilities – These include joint consultation between employers and employees and their representatives, and maintenance of the proper recognized procedures for the settlement of disputes.

The tasks which the personnel managers are to perform consist of the following.

  • Assisting the management as well as all the line managers in achieving positive results by advising and helping them to interpret and carry out personnel policy.
  • Diagnosing and advising on employee attitudes, motivation, etc. by applying such techniques as questionnaires and analyses of labour turnover, complaints etc.
  • Providing services to all the departments of the organization with respect to procedures and also with respect to matters such as personnel recruitment, selection and training etc. Coordinating all activities relating to personnel matters, both internal and external to the personnel department. This represents a team effort between the personnel department and all other departments in the organization.
  • Trying to help the employees to develop their potential fully for the benefit of the organization.
  • Motivating the employees through effective incentive plans so that the employees provide fullest co-operation for achieving the organizational goals.
  • Ensuring two way communications between the management and the employees.

For the implementation of the personnel policies successfully, it is necessary that certain conditions be maintained. These conditions are as follows.

  • There must be keen interest in the understanding of the function of the personnel department on the part of top management. Top management full support is to be available to the personnel managers.
  • It is essential that the personnel manager implement a sound and practical personnel policy to ensure that the organizational goals are attained.
  • The implementation of personnel policies requires proper procedures and proper training.
  • Constant monitoring and updating of the personnel policies and procedures.

Personnel managers have to be careful that they do not infringe on the rights of other departmental managers, since they depend upon them to a great extent for the success of their own department and the general acceptance of the organizational personnel policies. At the same time they cannot perform their functions in isolation.

Personnel management is not just another facet of the organizational activity. In fact it is the central function which permeates the whole field of management. Consequently, the top management cannot shed itself completely of the responsibility of dealing with personnel problems by handing over the administration of personnel matters to the personnel department. The overall responsibility for an effective personnel policy lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the top management. Similarly personnel officers are there to assist the departmental heads but the responsibility still devolves, to a large extent, on the departmental heads. However existence of sound personnel policies in the organization assists the departmental heads in performing their functions.

Personnel managers interpret the personnel policies and endeavour to carry it into effect. Personnel management is a specialized function of the organization, and without the support of the personnel mangers an effective implementation of the personnel policies cannot be carried out by heads of departments, who are primarily concerned with the production and the technical processes of the organization.

Due to the different activities which are taking place because of the personal management, the following takes place.

  • The organization develops and maintains its effectiveness.
  • The organization obtains, develops and retains the quantity and quality of the employees for its present and future needs.
  • The best use is made of the efforts of the employees and the maximum results are obtained due their effort ionization.
  • Constructive and harmonious relationships are established and maintained between the employees which encourages close cooperation between the employees and hence there is a team work in the organization.
  • Employees are provided with the maximum scope to use their capacities to the full and to develop within the organization.
  • Equal opportunities are provided to potential or existing employees for employment or in promotion.
  • Conditions of employment, employee benefits and working conditions are established which help not only in the achievement of the organizational objectives and goals but also mean that the organization meets its social and legal responsibilities towards its employees.

Comparison of personnel management and human resource management

Personnel management is often considered an old-fashioned name for human resource management, and in some organizations there may well be little difference between the old personnel department and the present day human resource department. But human resource management (HRM) can also mean a particular philosophy of the role of HRM in organizations, and how people are developed and nurtured to achieve organizational goals.

All the organizational objectives need to be taken into account, whether personnel management or HRM. However, personnel management is viewed as workforce centred and more operational in focus. Personnel managers recruit, select and carry out administrative procedures in accordance with management requirements.

They act as a bridge between the employer and the employee. As a result, personnel managers are seen as functional specialists rather than strategic managers and often have little power or status in the organization. The personnel manager needs to understand the needs of the manager and the employee, and articulate those needs to both sides. Personnel management is compliance based which is distinct from commitment based management of HRM. Some organizations, however, see HRM as a particular approach in the management of people. HRM can be seen as a radical new approach linked to strategy and viewing people as assets who need to be actively managed as part of the long-term interests of the organization.

HRM can be viewed as a radical integrated approach to the management of people in an organization and, as such, can be seen as a general management function. Where personnel managers can be viewed as specialists, HRM can be seen as the responsibility of all managers, particularly senior managers, and as such is proactive rather than reactive.

Operative functions of personnel management

The operative functions of the personnel department are also called service functions. These include the following.

  • Procurement function – It means recruitment and selection of employees. The function includes tapping the possible sources from where prospective work force will come as well as getting information regarding prevailing wage rates and job requirements. This function calls for selection of the best candidate by following a systematic selection procedure and their orientation after the appointment in the organization. Under this function, personnel department maintains the records of employees.
  • Development function – Under this function of personnel management, personnel department arrange training of the employees both in the technical areas and the management areas so that they can improve their skills and abilities. Employees are also made aware of the organizational policies. Development of employees is also carried out in safety aspects and team work. Employees are also encouraged by offering them various incentives to enhance their knowledge base.
  • Promotion, transfer and termination function – Under this function of personnel management, personnel department evaluate the performance of the employees for the purpose of taking decisions concerning the employment. Employees’ appraisals and the merit rating is carried out for the evaluation of the performance of the employees. For carrying out this function effectively personnel department lays down a promotion policy, formulates policies regarding transfer and termination and analyses the causes of voluntary separations.
  • Compensation function – This function of the personnel management calls for deciding about salaries and wages. The employees should get adequate and equitable remuneration for the work being done by them. Under this function personnel department is concerned with fixation of fair wages by evaluating the jobs and determining their worth in terms of money. Personnel department collaborate with those who formulates wage plan. The department also assists in formulation of policies regarding pension plans, profit sharing programmes, and non-monetary benefits etc. The function also calls for comparison of the wages in the organization with the industry and remove inconsistencies, if any.
  • Welfare function – This function of personnel management includes the activities related to physical and social well-being of the employees such as provision of medical facilities, recreational facilities, subsidized canteens at work places, house magazine, benefits in case of accident, and retirement benefits etc.
  • Collective bargaining function – This function of the personnel management includes negotiations with the employees’ representatives with respect to various demands, negotiations which are held with the trade union leaders, and to know and solve the grievances of the employees.
  • Miscellaneous functions – Other functions of personnel management include (i) advising the line managers regarding administration of personnel policies, (ii) securing co-ordination of all personnel activities, (iii) ensuring working of an effective communication system in the organization, (iv) providing good and healthy working conditions, and (v) liaising with local authorities etc.