In most big enterprises, the personnel department is set up under the leadership of a personnel manager who has specialized knowledge and skills. The personnel manager performs managerial as well as operative functions. Since he is a manager, he performs the basic functions of management, like planning, organizing, directing, and controlling in order to manage his department.
He has to also perform certain operative functions of recruitment, selection, training, placement, etc., which the other line managers may entrust him with. He has to play multiple roles in the effective management of human resources and in improving human relations in the organization. Ideally, the personnel manager should concentrate on drawing managerial attention to human problems. Just
as finance assesses costs, marketing emphasizes customers, personnel is people-centered.
The success of a personnel Manager depends on the degree of his contribution to solve management problems in dealing with human resources in the organization. Though managing is the job of every manager in the organization, yet the personnel manager has a special role to play. Some of the important roles of personnel manager in an organization in addition to the managerial and operative functions are discussed below:
(i) Policy Initiation: Policy initiation and its formulation are one of the important tasks of a personnel manager. The personnel manager helps the top management in the formulation of policies on wages and salary administration, transfer, appraisal, welfare activities, personnel records and statistics, working environment, etc.
(ii) Advisory Role: The advisory role of the personnel manager is of crucial importance. Line managers are generally confronted with a variety of problems in their day-to-day operations. The personnel manager can offer useful advice in all these matters as he is familiar with personnel policies and practices, labor agreements, labor laws, etc.
(iii) Linking Pin Role: The personnel manager attempts to achieve and maintain good industrial relations in the organization. He gives authentic information to the trade union leaders regarding the personnel policies and programs of the enterprise. He also conveys the views of the trade union leaders to the higher management. Thus, he acts as a link between the management and the workers.
(iv) Representative Role: The personnel manager generally acts as a spokesman of the top management or representative of the company and communicates management policies and decisions that affect people in the organization. He can do this because he has a better understanding and can visualize an overall picture of the company’s operations.
(v) Decision-Making Role: The personnel manager also plays an effective role in decision-making on issues related to human resources. He formulates and designs objectives, policies, and programs of human resource management.
(vi) Mediator Role: The personnel manager often acts as a mediator in the event of a conflict between employees, or groups of employees, superior and subordinate, and even between management and employees. Thus, he attempts to maintain industrial peace and harmony in the organization.
(vii) Leadership Role: The personnel manager provides leadership and guidance to the workers and their groups. He ensures effective communication in the organization and influences the workers for extending their cooperation in achieving organizational objectives. He also acts as a counselor by providing advice to workers on their work and personal problems.
(viii) Welfare Role: The personnel manager acts as a welfare officer in the organization. As a welfare officer, he is responsible for providing canteen, crèches, transport and hospital facilities, and other welfare services for the benefit of workers and their family members.
(ix) Research Role: The personnel manager maintains the records of the employees working in the enterprise. On the basis of records, he undertakes research in various personnel areas such as absenteeism, labor turnover, alcoholism, etc., and suggests suitable measures for their eradication to the top management.
The role of personnel management in the industry is underlined by the complex and dynamic nature of the environment under which modern large-scale industries function. The task has also been facilitated by the greater recognition of the value of human resources in the industry and the application of human resource development (HRD) techniques by enlightened managers in modem organizations.