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Personnel Management Definitions

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Everything you need to know about the definitions of personnel management.

Personnel management is that important branch of the science of management which is concerned with the behaviour and organisation of the people working at a particular enterprise.

The dealings and behav­iour of managers towards employees have always been affected by the views of the management about human nature.

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According to Institute of Personnel Management (U.K.) –

“Personnel Management is integral but distinctive part of management, concerned with people at work and their relationship within the enterprise, seeking to bring together into an effective organisation the men and women who staff the enterprise, enabling each to make his/her best contribution to its success, both as a member of a working group and as an individual. It seeks to provide relationships within the enterprise that are conducive both to effective work and human satisfaction.”

Learn about the definition of personnel management put forward by various eminent authors, management thinkers and different institutions.


Definitions of Personnel Management Provided by Authors, Management Thinkers and Different Institutions

Definitions of Personnel Management – Provided by E.F.L. Brech and Institute of Personnel Management (U.K.)

Personnel management is the management of people at work. It involves employment, training appraisal and compensation of the people.

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Some of the important definitions of personnel management are as follows:

According to E.F.L. Brech, “Personnel management is that part of the management process which is primarily concerned with the human constituents of an organisation.”

According to Institute of Personnel Management (U.K.):

“Personnel Management is integral but distinctive part of management, concerned with people at work and their relationship within the enterprise, seeking to bring together into an effective organisation the men and women who staff the enterprise, enabling each to make his/her best contribution to its success, both as a member of a working group and as an individual. It seeks to provide relationships within the enterprise that are conducive both to effective work and human satisfaction.”

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“Personnel Management is that part of Management which is con­cerned with people at work and with their relationships within an enterprise; it applies not only to industry and commerce but to all fields of employment.”

Personnel Management aims to achieve both efficiency and justice, neither of which can be pursed successfully without the order. It seeks to bring together and develop into an effective organisation of the men and women who make up an enterprise, enabling each to make his / her own best contribution to its business both as an indi­vidual and as a member of a working group. It seeks to provide fair terms and conditions of employment and satisfying work for these employees.

Personnel management is that part of the management process which is concerned with the management of human resources in an organisation. It tries to secure the best from people by winning their wholehearted cooperation.

In short, personnel management can be defined as the art of procuring, developing and maintaining competent workforce to achieve the goals of the organisation in an effective and efficient way.


Definitions of Personnel Management – Best Definition Given by British Institute of Personnel Management

Probably the best definition of personnel management is one given recently in its revised form by the British Institute of Personnel Management.

According to that definition – “Personnel Management is that part of management concerned with people at work and with their relationships within an enterprise. Its aim is to bring together and develop into an effective organisation the men and women who make up an enterprise and, having regard for the well-being of the individual and of working groups to enable to make their best contribution of its success…..Personnel management is also concerned with the human and social implications of change in internal organisation and methods of working and of economic and social changes in the community”.

Looking at the term in another way, personnel management may be said to be a method of developing the potentialities of employees so that they will get maximum satisfaction out of their work and give their best efforts to the organisation.

The management must create a climate where individuals are encouraged for development. One of the ways to do this is for every manager to encourage self-development of his subordinates, and mutual confidence and understanding between employers and employees and between employers and employees.

Personnel Management, as a distinct discipline of management, is of relatively recent origin. Be­ing an important part of scientific management, Personnel Management has emerged in the latter part of this century. Stray attempts, however, were made earlier in the management world to look after the benefits of employees.

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But the es­sence of Personnel Management, as it means today, was lacking in all these attempts; workers were not being treated better than machines. A ‘com­modity approach’ or, so to say, a ‘factor of produc­tion’ approach basically mechanical, was the con­cept of management, while dealing with personnel matters.

With the advent of the second half of the present century, a change of attitude towards workers was noticed. Labour as a factor of produc­tion was clearly distinguished; the feelings, sen­timents, needs, desires, attitudes and interests of labour as human beings were recognised. Through decades, the management has realised that there is immense potentiality in labour and, if properly managed, they can work miracles.

The spread of education among workers and consequently their acquisition of skill together with the growth of trade unions acted as forces for the management to change their attitude and thus came Personnel Management with a different outlook, with a heart compassionate and with the feelings, hu­mane and sympathetic, for the employees.

It had been a long experience for the management that to derive maximum from a worker, the maximum should be given to him. So, Personnel Management, as it has developed today, is a pragmatic ap­proach to management of employees – to get the best, give the best.

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The concepts of management in relation to ‘the other fellow’ have evolved and reached the present stage. Lawrence A. Appley, former Presi­dent of the American Management Association, traced this evolution.

From the feeling of savag­ery i.e., the other fellow is my enemy and to be de­stroyed, through the feelings of slavery (to be con­quered), servitude (he is to serve me), welfare (to be helped), paternalism (to be looked after as a son), participation (he has to contribute), trustee­ship (I am responsible for his benefit), the atti­tude towards fellow workers has now reached the concept of ‘Statesmanship’. Management now thinks it its responsibility to help the fellow workers to develop themselves to their fullest po­tential.

The evolution process, therefore, has been –

Savagery → Slavery → Servitude → Welfare → Paternalism → Participation → Trusteeship Statesmanship.


Definitions of Personnel Management

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Several terms are in current usage in this con­nection- manpower management, personnel man­agement, labour management, employee relations and industrial relations. However, at present “in­dustrial relations” or “employee relations” with the two major subdivisions “Personnel Manage­ment” and “labour relations” are being widely used.

Personnel Management, popularly speaking, is the task of managing the personnel of an organisa­tion.

The British Institute of Personnel Management recently has defined Personnel Management as “that part of management concerned with people at work and with their relationship within an en­terprise. Its aim is to bring together and develop into an effective organisation the men and women who make up an enterprise and having regard for the well-being of the individual and of working groups to enable to make their best contribution of the success. Personnel Management is also con­cerned with the human and social implications of change in internal organisation and methods of working of economic and social changes in the com­munity”.

The society for Personnel Administration in U.S.A. defines – Personnel Management as the art of acquiring, developing and maintaining a compe­tent work-force in such a manner as to accomplish with maximum efficiency and economy the func­tions and objectives of the organisation.

William Spriegel, along with some other au­thorities in the subject, defined Personnel Manage­ment as being concerned with the attaining of max­imum individual development, desirable working relationship between employers and employees and, employees and employees and an effective moulding of human resources as contrasted with physical resources.

From the definitions quoted above, we under­stand that Personnel Management aims at codify­ing the ways of organising employees to enable them to attain maximum efficiency and to yield maximum benefits to the organisation. It has hu­man and social implications in so far as it is ex­pected to bring about economic and social changes in the community.

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An ideal relationship between the working groups, between the employer and the employee, is an indispensable part of Personnel Management. So, Personnel Management is a con­cept illumined with the idea of the best labour capital relations; the management having a large fund of sympathy for the employees and the em­ployees having a mind to give their best to the or­ganisation.

Through Personnel Management, the goals of an organisation can be achieved by im­proving efficiency of the employees and their pro­ductivity and also by developing their potentiali­ties.

Personnel Management is, therefore, based on the careful handling of relationships among the individuals at work and consists in “maintaining these relations on a basis which enables all those engaged in the undertaking to make their best per­sonal contribution to the effective working of the undertaking”. (M. B. Formen – The Personnel Func­tion of Management)


Definition of Personnel Management – Propounded by E.F.L. Breach, R.G. Gokhle, Richard Calhoon and Flippo

Personnel management is related to with people at work and their relationships with one another. Thus, it can be said that personnel management is a set of programmes, functions and activities designed with a view to maximising both personal and organisational goals.

Personnel management may be defined as the art of procuring, developing and maintaining competent workforce to achieve organisational goals efficiently.

Personnel Management is variously known as ‘Personnel Admini­stration’, ‘Manpower Management’, ‘Labour Management’, Industrial Relations’, ‘Employee Relations’ or ‘Human Resource Management’.

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Definitions Personnel management is defined as under:

E.F.L. Breach opines, “Personnel management is that part of management process which is primarily concerned with the human constituents’ organisation.”

R.G. Gokhle opines, “Personnel management is the specialised intelligent handling of the human factor by a separate department which could devote its full time for research along the line of improvement is industrial relations.”

Richard Calhoon opines, “Personnel management involves the task of handling the human problems of an organisation and is devoted to acquiring, developing, utilising and maintaining an efficient workforce.”

“It is a method of developing Potentialities of employees so that they get maximum satisfaction out of their work and give their best efforts to the organisations.” – Pigors P. & Myres, Personnel Adm.

“It is concerned with the planning, organising, directing and con­trolling of the procurement, development, compensation, integra­tion of people for the purpose of contributing to organisational, individual and social goals.” – Flippo, Edward B. Principles of P.M. McGraw Hill Kogakusha Tokyo, 1976.

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Lawrence Appley former President of the American Management Association – “It is a function of guiding human resources into a dynamic that attains its objectives with a high degree of morale and to the satisfaction of those concerned. It is concerned with getting results through people”. According to him “all Management is ‘Personnel Management’ as it deals with human beings; its devel­opment can best be discussed in terms of human development, philosophical, psychological, spiritual and physical”.


Definition of Personnel Management – By Eminent Management Thinkers Like: Dale Yoder, Prof. Jucius, Prof. Thomas G. Spates and Edward Flippo

The job of a personnel manager has undergone a dramatic change in recent years. From being a record keeper and a welfare man trying to administer policies to keep workforce happy, he is compelled by circumstances to look at the big picture. He is forced to strike a rapport between organisational demands and employee expectations — precisely in sync with trends in the labour market.

In this new avatar, the personnel man is supposed to wear many hats — that of being a recruiter; trainer, developer and motivator; coordinator; mediator and more importantly act as an employee champion. To complicate the matters further, these roles are being looked at with critical attention by one and all.

The demands of 21st century have manifested themselves long ago — forcing personnel people to switch gears, change hats and assume roles that have become quite complex, demanding and challenging.

The personnel man is supposed to bring about change initiatives that help people grow and realise their potential fully and also act as a strategic partner translating management rhetoric and philosophy into concrete actions plans. The definition of personnel management, as a result, has been suitably refined — keeping these background factors in mind.

Personnel management is concerned with people at work and their relationships with each other. It may be defined as a set of programmes, functions and activities aimed at achieving both personal and organisational goals. It ensures that the organisation attracts and hires qualified, imaginative and competent people.

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It involves the establishment of various policies to deal with employees and to retain them. To this end, it lays out the rules relating to working conditions, designs suitable compensation plans and strengthens employer-employee relations.

Important Definitions:

1. Dale Yoder:

It is that phase of management which deals with the effective control and use of manpower as distinguished from other sources of power. The management of human resources is viewed as a system in which participants seek to attain both individual and group goals. Its objective is to understand what has happened and is happening and to be prepared for what will happen in the area of working relationships between the managers and the managed.

2. Prof. Jucius:

“The field of management which has to do with planning, organising, directing and controlling various operative functions of procuring, developing, maintaining and utilising a labour force, such that the- (a) objectives, for which the company is established are attained economically and effectively; (b) objectives of all levels of personnel are served to the highest possible degree; and (c) objectives of the community are duly considered and served.”

3. Prof. Thomas G. Spates:

“Personnel administration is a code of the ways of organising and treating individuals at work so that they will each get the greatest possible realisation of their intrinsic abilities, thus attaining maximum efficiency for themselves and their group, and thereby giving to the enterprise of which they are a part of its determining competitive advantage and its optimum results.”

4. Edward Flippo:

“Personnel Management is the planning, organising, directing and controlling of the procurement, development, compensation, integration, maintenance and separation of human resources to the end that individual, organisational and social objectives are accomplished.”

5. French:

“Personnel Management is the recruitment, selection, development, utilisation of and accommodation to human resources by organisations. The human resources of an organisation consist of all individuals regardless of their role, who are engaged in any of the organisation’s activities. Personnel management is a major component of the broader managerial function and has roots and branches extending throughout and beyond each organisation. It is a major subsystems of all organisations.”

6. Scott et al.:

“It is that branch of management which is responsible, on a staff basis for concentrating on those aspects of operations which are primarily concerned with the relationship of management to employees and employees to employees and with the development of the individual and group. The objective is to attain maximum individual development, desirable working relationship between employers and employees and employees and employees, and effective moulding of human resources as contrasted with physical resources.”

7. Dunn and Stephens:

“The personnel management is the process of attracting, holding and motivating people involving all managers — line and staff.”

8. The Institute of Personnel Management, London:

“Personnel Management is that part of management concerned with people at work and with their relationship within an organisation. Its aim is to bring together and develop into an effective organisation the men and women who make up an enterprise and having regard for the well-being of the individual and of working groups, to enable them to make their best contribution to its success.”

9. The National Institute of Personnel Management:

“Personnel Management, Labour Management or Staff Management means quite simply the task of dealing with human relationships within an organisation. Academically, the three aspects of Personnel Management are- (i) the welfare aspect concerned with working conditions and amenities such as canteens, creches, housing, personal problems of workers, schools, and recreation; (ii) the labour or personnel aspect concerned with recruitment, placement of employees, remuneration, promotion, incentives, productivity, etc. (iii) the industrial relations aspects concerned with trade union negotiation, settlement of industrial disputes, joint consultation and collective bargaining. All these aspects are concerned with human element in industry as distinct from the mechanical.”

10. Lawrence Appley, Former President of the American Management Association:

“It is a function of guiding human resources into a dynamic organisation that attains its objectives with a high degree of morale and to the satisfaction of those concerned. It is concerned with getting results through people.”

According to him, “all management is personnel management as it deals with human beings, its development can best be discussed in terms of human development, philosophical, psychological, spiritual and physical.” The development and utilisation of human resources is not by any means an ancillary activity but a central element in the operation of a business.


Definition of Personnel Management – Few Standard Definitions Given by Various Experts

We produce below a few standard definitions given by experts of personnel management, which will give an idea of what it means.

“It is that phase of management which deals with the effective control and use of manpower as distinguished from other sources of power.”

“Its objective is to understand what has happened and is happening and to be prepared for what will happen in the area of working relationships between the managers and the managed.”

If an analysis is made of these definitions it will be seen that personnel (or manpower) management involves procedures and practices through which human resources are managed (i.e., organised and directed) towards the attainment of the individual, social and organisational goals. By controlling and effectively using manpower resources, management tries to produce goods and services for the society.

According to Prof. Jucius definition, personnel management is concerned with the managerial (planning, organising, directing and controlling) and operative (procurement, development, maintenance and utilisation) functions, with a view to attaining the organisational goals economically and effectively and meeting the individual and social goals.

This definition is a comprehensive one and covers both the management functions and the operative functions. The purpose of all these functions is to assist in the accomplishment of basic objectives.

According to French, “Personnel Management is the recruitment, selection, development, utilization of and accommodation of human resources by organisations. The human resources of an organisation consist of all individuals regardless of their role, who are engaged in any of the organisation’s activities.”

The Institute of Personnel Management, London, formulated an official definition of personnel management after the Second World War and modified it in 1965 to incorporate progressive trends and professional developments in the U.K.

The two definitions are reproduced below:

“Personnel Management is that part of the management function which is primarily concerned with the human relationships within an organisation. Its objective is the maintenance of those relationships on a basis which, by consideration of the well-being of the individual, enables all those engaged in the undertaking to make their maximum personal contribution to the effective working of that undertaking.” (1945)

The essence of the definitions is that Personnel Management is concerned with men at work; and with their group relationship, with a view to achieve the objectives of the organisation through their maximum personal contribution towards the work- goal achievement. The new definition places emphasis on the ‘group aspect.’

In this definition three objectives are explicit:

(a) To maintain good relationships within an organisation,

(b) To enable each person to make his maximum personal contribution to the organisation as a member of the working group, and

(c) To achieve these things through respect for human personality and the well-being of the individual.


Definition of Personnel Management –  Given by Michael J. Jucius, E.B. Flippo, M.W. Cumming and John A. Shubin

It is difficult for any definition to describe fully any concept or subject. Obviously, it is not an easy job to give a precise definition of personnel management also. Different authors have defined personnel man­agement in their own ways.

According to Michael J. Jucius, personnel management is that field of man­agement which has to do with planning, organising, directing and controlling the functions of procuring, developing, maintaining and utilising a labour force in such a way that the objectives for which the company is established are attained economically and effectively and the objectives of all levels of person­nel and society are served to the highest possible degree.

This definition obviously lays emphasis on the achievement of specified objectives through proper planning, organising, directing and controlling by the management. Thus, it clarifies that personnel management is a responsibility of management. The management should plan a personnel programme and should not only specify necessary operative per­sonnel functions but also point out how such functions are to be performed.

For carrying out the plan effectively, proper organisation is needed, that is, how and from where the resources are to be procured, what should be the system of purchases, communication and so on. Personnel management also owns the responsibility of directing the organisation, that is, supervising, motivating, training and guiding the personnel engaged in the establishment at different levels.

For effective direction, qualities of leadership must be there. Ultimately, the management is required to control, that is, evaluation of the result, keeping in view the specified objectives and targets. Failure in achieving objectives and targets reflects ineffi­ciency of the management.

For achieving the specified objectives, the management is to see that the necessary workforce is procured, developed, maintained and utilised appropriately. This involves a lot of responsibility as it covers a vast field such as recruitment, selection, training, promotion, transfer, wages, dearness allowance and fringe benefits.

While producing a service or commodity at reasonable profits to the establishment, the personnel management should make necessary contribution and discharge its obligations towards not only the region and the nation but also the whole community of the world.

The views of E. B. Flippo are also noteworthy in this regard. According to him, the personnel function is concerned with the procurement, compensation, integration and maintenance of the personnel of an organisation for the purpose of contributing towards the accomplishment of organisation’s major goals or objectives.

Good personnel management helps individual workers to realise and utilise their capacities to the full and organisation to achieve its desired goals.

M. W. Cumming has also emphasised the same viewpoint while he says that personnel management is concerned with obtaining the best possible staff for an organisation and having got them, looking after them so that they will want to stay and give their best to their jobs.

Edison has preferred to call personnel management as ‘the science of human engineering’. According to Professor Dale Yoder, who is an eminent authority on personnel management, personnel management is that phase of management which deals with the effecting control and use of manpower as distin­guished from other sources of power.

Some authors and institutions have laid more emphasis on human relationship in personnel manage­ment. As a matter of fact, personnel management includes both the ‘Welfare Side’, which is concerned with the physical amenities necessary for the comfort of the workers, and the ‘Personnel Side’, which extends to psychological study of human personality embracing all aspects of human relationship.

There are some other authors also who have defined personnel management. According to John A. Shubin, an eminent author on personnel management, personnel administration is the systematic recruitment of a competent workforce whose human resources are effectively used through the control of the occupational environment in a manner that develops employees’ potential and enables them to contribute valuable services to the organisation of which they are an integral part.

Thus, personnel administration is related with the control and improvement of human element in the organisation. The Bombay Textile Inquiry Committee also held similar views. According to it, personnel administration is a method to control the human factor in the industry intelligently and equitably.

From the foregoing account, it is clear that it is not possible to coin a definition of personnel manage­ment which may be acceptable to all. However, the fact remains that personnel management is primar­ily concerned with the methods of recruitment, selection, training, education, terms of employment, wages, working conditions, amenities, and industrial and human relations in the industry.

Thus, personnel management is a functional area of general management which involves the following:

i. It is the management of people at work.

ii. It is people-oriented.

iii. It is action-oriented.

iv. It is globally-oriented.

v. It is future-oriented.

vi. It is interdisciplinary.

vii. It is both science and art.

viii. It is a staff function.

ix. It is development-oriented.

x. It is concerned with the effective use of personnel of the organisation.

xi. It is concerned with the accomplishment of common goals.

xii. It tries to integrate individual and organisational goals.

xiii. It aims at the best fit among individuals, their job, the organisation and the environment.

xiv. It is a continuous function.


Definitions of Personnel Management – Provided by C.H. Northcott, Dale Yoder and George R. Terry

The following definitions refer to the modern concept of personnel management:

C.H. Northcott – “Personnel management is an extension of general management, that of pro­moting and stimulating every employee to make his fullest contribution to the purpose of the business.”

Dale Yoder – “Manpower management is the function or activity aiding and directing working men and women in maximizing their contribution and satisfaction in employment. It helps workers—all those who work, from unskilled common labourer to corporation president or public administrator- combine their efforts with those of others in products we all want.”

George R. Terry – “Personnel management is concerned with the obtaining and maintaining of a satisfactory and satisfied work force.”

‘Personnel management’ and ‘HRM’ are almost synonymous concepts because there are a lot of similari­ties between the two. While the 1930s are known as the personnel administration stage, the period of the 1940s and 1950s is known as the developing stage during which a whole range of personnel activities emerged.

The period of the 1960s and 1970s is known as the mature stage of personnel management during which personnel management not only got increasingly professionalised but also got sophisticated.

However, studies on human resource were initially guided by Taylor’s scientific management principles and then graduated through the Hawthorne studies conducted by Professor Elton Mayo, to behavioural school based on the theories of Abraham Maslow, Frederick Herzberg, Douglas McGregor and so on.

HRM Phase I started in the early 1980s. During the 1980s, HR and business strategy were integrated to evolve SHRM approach. HR managers became more business- and management-oriented. HR direc­tors in big companies started getting representation on corporate boards.

During HRM Phase II (the 1990s and onwards), more emphasis is being laid on processes such as culture management, team work, learning organisations, empowerment, more flexible and delayered organisations, downsizing, strategic approach, evolving desired HR policies, and to borrow and emulate best practices.

In India, since the 1990s, HRM is getting magnified on account of the initiation of the process of globalisation and liberali­sation because of which the form and content of capitalist relations between the various factors of pro­duction are undergoing a sea change, leading to a new era of HRM.


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