What Is the Role of Personnel Management?

Jacob Queen

The primary role of personnel management is to handle the human resources in a business environment. Essentially, that means that the personnel managers work with the employees in order to make sure they are producing the best results possible for the company. In terms of specifics, personnel management involves everything from dealing with the hiring and paying of employees, to training them, mediating their personal disputes, and sometimes even firing them.

One common role of personnel management is to recruit people and hire them.
One common role of personnel management is to recruit people and hire them.

It is pretty well-understood in most business environments that having effective employees who are operating in an efficient environment is often essential to running a successful company. In many cases, upper management would rather not have to deal with the daily difficulties involved in managing people and hiring them. The role of personnel management is generally to handle these decisions in their place, or at least work as an intermediary between upper-management and staff. Sometimes personnel management involves a single person overseeing a whole host of issues, while other companies may have a general personnel manager overseeing many secondary managers running several different departments.

One job of personnel management is to deal with personal issues and conflicts that arise in the workplace.
One job of personnel management is to deal with personal issues and conflicts that arise in the workplace.

One common role of personnel management is to recruit people and hire them. In these cases, the manager is responsible for finding the best people possible, giving them the right responsibilities, and sometimes overseeing things like promotions and training to make sure people are doing the best work they possibly can. On the flip side, another role of personnel management is often to oversee the removal of employees who aren’t getting the job done, or moving them into a different work situation where they can be more effective.

According to some people in personnel management, one of the most difficult aspects of the job is dealing with the various personal issues and conflicts that arise in the workplace. Sometimes employees simply don’t get along that well, and this can lead to various inefficiencies. There are also cases where employees may break the rules in some way, or offend another employee by doing something insensitive, and the personnel manager may be required to mediate these disputes and discipline offenders.

Handling all the issues in personnel management jobs may sometimes require a good understanding of human psychology and a natural ability to work with people on a one-to-one basis. When it comes to things like firing people or dealing with personal disputes between various employees, the job can also potentially be very stressful, which is sometimes considered a major downside to these positions.

Personnel management may be in charge of performing criminal background checks on new hires.
Personnel management may be in charge of performing criminal background checks on new hires.

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Discussion Comments


@OeKc05 – I know my husband wishes this were the situation at his workplace. His personnel manager is as far removed from the employees as can be, and he bases his decisions only on numbers.

He works at a warehouse, where everyone is judged according to how well they meet their quota. If anyone falls below a certain percentage for the month, then they are called into the personnel manager's office for a lecture, a warning, or worse.

My husband has received a lecture from this man before, and he really hated it. The personnel manager did not know the circumstances surrounding his slow work month, and he really didn't care.


I'm glad that I work in an office with only fifteen employees. The personnel manager is familiar with everyone and their work ethics, so she can make more informed decisions about us.

She views reports on our productivity and behavior compiled by our supervisor. She then calls separate meetings, one with him and one with the employee in question, and she takes both sides into account.

Often, hearing the side of the employee in trouble has influenced her to keep them on at the company. The supervisor isn't always right, even though people tend to believe someone in power more than a regular employee.


@John57 – The personnel manager in my office doesn't do any firing, either. She does get to conduct interviews and tell people that they are hired, but she has to present all the information that she gathers to the boss, so ultimately, he makes the decision on who to hire.

She also handles payroll. We go to her with any issues about our checks or questions about deductions for insurance and benefits.

While she does have a good bit of power, even her position is governed by the boss of the whole office. She can only do so much without permission.


@indemnifyme – I think it would be so hard to make decisions like that, as well. I understand why your friend decided to leave her job.

However, a personnel manager also gets to be the bearer of good news for one individual. They get to make someone who has been out of work for awhile or in a bad situation at another job so happy by telling them that they are hired.

I remember being so thrilled when a personnel manager offered me a job that I jumped up and hugged her. She laughed nervously, and I couldn't believe I did that, but I could tell she was happy to have made my day.


A friend of mine worked in personnel management for awhile. One of her main jobs was to interview people and then decide who to hire. She told me it was really stressful since the economy wasn't so great when she was doing that job.

At the time, a lot of people were desperate for a job, and my friend would sometimes interview people who had been without a job for a year or more. She would get many applicants for a single position, and it always pained her that she could pick only one. She would agonize over the decision so much she eventually decided the job wasn't for her.


@Azuza - I see what you're saying, but I think it's better for people in personnel management to have kind of an outside perspective on things. I imagine that it's easier to impartially mediate a disagreement if you don't know the two people and haven't chosen a side.

We all know that office politics play a big role in the day to day workings of any business. Having personnel management operate outside of that makes a lot more sense to me.

Plus, I'm sure it's easier to fire someone when you don't really know them on a personal level!


I feel like having a separate human resources department doesn't make a lot of sense. Personnel management professionals deal with the hiring and firing of employees, and interpersonal conflicts. However, they don't work with people in other departments on a daily basis.

How can you understand the needs of another department at your company and who would be a good fit for them if you don't work with them on a daily basis? It just doesn't make sense to me. I think it would make more sense for each department of a company to have it's own personnel managers who is family with their operations.


I have worked in the personnel department of a large insurance company for several years. Because our company is so large, we have one general personnel manager who is over the entire human resources department.

Under him are several other personnel managers who handle specific areas. All of the personnel managers at my company are at least required to have a bachelor's degree.

While our department is the one who hires new employees, it isn't usually our job to release or fire an employee. Usually this is done by the general supervisor in the department the employee is working for.

I work in the department that handles the benefits available for the employees. Most of this is clerical work and I don't have much interaction with other employees in the company.

My boss who is one of the personnel managers is responsible for new employee orientation and has contact with all of the new employees.


@myharley - I am the personnel manager of a small company but do not have a college degree. I have worked for this company for many years, and I have gradually worked my way into this position.

I think there are many smaller companies who look at years of experience to be just as beneficial as a college education for a position like this.

I worked in an administrative position in the personnel department for several years before becoming the manager. When you are working for a small company, many of the job descriptions overlap into other areas anyway.

If you are short handed, you just step in and do the job that needs to be done. One of the favorite parts of my job is working with new employees and training them on certain parts of their job.


@myharley - It depends on the company you are working for, but most companies today require someone with a college degree to be a personnel manager.

I have a bachelors degree that is in personnel management. Sometimes this specific degree is hard to explain to people because it is a personnel services degree with an emphasis on counseling and psychology.

It is just easier to explain it as a degree in personnel services, as it is basically the same thing.

Having the emphasis on psychology really comes in handy when you are working with so many different types of people. There is hardly a day goes by in my job when I am not dealing with conflicts between people within the company.

Sometimes this can be quite challenging, and I am glad I have my education and experience to fall back on when it comes to dealing with some of these situations.


Do you need a college degree to be a personnel manager? I have always been interested in working in human resources, but don't have a college degree.

I think working in a human resources department of a company would be an interesting job. One of my friends works in the personnel department of a hospital and does a lot of interviewing for open job positions.

It seems that if a personnel department is doing its job well, the rest of the company should run pretty smoothly. It would be a lot easier to hire someone than it would be to fire them, but I can see how that would go along with the position.

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