Task vs. Personnel Management

Updated on May 11, 2016

Introduction

The way in which managers control and motivate their employees to perform at their best has been of much debate over the years. Theorists have differing opinions as to which method works best to encourage employees to perform their duties. The primary focus of each of their theories is centered around either task or personnel. We will analyse these two factors with close reference to managers, employees, and the workplace as a whole. Managers are responsible for controlling employees, handing out tasks, and ensuring that everything runs smoothly within a business.

Task Management

The task management technique is focused on how managers control their employees and coordinate their tasks and production within the business. This technique places emphasis on completion of the task without considering the people who carry out the task. The factors that managers will encounter from the technical side, include the following; employee task distribution, recruitment, job analysis, job evaluation, payroll administration, performance appraisals, training administration, productivity levels, financial book keeping, and other related tasks. It is obvious that one person (manager) cannot carry out all these tasks that is why managers need to delegate these tasks to lower level employees. Task orientated management often involves incentivizing employees with financial means. This type of management resembles the theory proposed by Frederick Taylor. He believed that employees are solely motivated by money and offering them more money will increase their productivity and output. This theory was flawed in many ways. Task management places a great amount of importance on norms, rules, deadlines, standard practices and critical review.

Personnel Management

The personnel management technique is also known as the human resources technique. It refers to the method with which managers control the ‘human’ aspect of the business. The technique places emphasis on personal interaction with employees to reach common corporate goals. Managers involved in this aspect of the business encounter task orientated aspects as well as other aspects such as; leadership, motivation, developing organizational culture, communication of shared values, social incentives for employees, among many others. This approach tends to integrate employees into the businesses core value and mission. It is a modern approach that gives employees a sense of purpose and fulfillment of goals. This technique resembles the theories of motivation proposed by Professor Elton Mayo and many other behavioral theorists.

Differences In Approach

These two techniques differ in approach, nature and aplication.

The task management approach is primarily concerned with establishing rules, policies, procedures, contracts, and strict implementation of an employees contracts and guidelines. Personnel management tends to be seperated from rules and regulations. It is more relaxed concering implementation of policies and contracts. It aims to operate on a good faith policy with its’ employees. These differences of approach are highlighted when analysing employee motivation. Task management displays little to no concern of motivating employees, whereas personnel management strives to motivate employees through bonuses, rewards, social events, workplace safety, and other factors.

Differences In Nature

The techniques differ in nature as well. Task management is reactive in nature, whereas personnel management is more proactive. Task management tends to steer clear of core organizational activities. It functions independently, e.g. a manager gives one employee one task to complete. This task is often something small, that will contribute to the overall production process but does not directly affect the outer appearance of a business. Managers often wait for a mistake or error to occur and then correct it through forceful methods such as firing an employee or cutting their pay. Personnel management is more integrated with the activities of the business. These managers aim to work closely with employees, encourage them, and help them. They aim to correct a mistake before it is made, thus they try to reduce the need for correctional measures thereby increasing employee productivity.

Differences In Application

The application of these two techniques differ in a few ways as well. Task management implementation does not involve senior managers. The employees are not linked to the core processes of the business. Employees are only motivated by money. The only way to get the attention of the managers during grievances is through striking, collective bargaining and trade union action. Managers are expect employees to act as machines who do the task that they are given without questioning it. They expect deadlines to be met and maximum output to be achieved. Personnel management often involves line managers, senior mangers and the human resources department. Managers try to deal with employee grievances on an individual basis thus avoiding trade unions and group action where possible. The employees are motivated through close association with the core values and aim of the business as a whole. Managers strive to please customers through customer focused survey and using that information for developing and improving the business.

Advantages

There are advantages and disadvantages to both techniques. The advantages of task management is that it is time effective. For example, the business does not have to waste time debating and asking employees for their opinions in order to make a decision. The managers are authoritative figures that make the decisions and employees are expected to carry out these decisions as instructed. The business can save money by not having to hire specialists to implement human resource type programs. The advantages of personnel management is that the employees have an increased morale thus they will perform their duties more effectively. This is due to management being personally involved in an employees life and emotions. Employees become self-motivated to perform due to management giving them more responsibilities and displaying confidence in them.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages of task management is that employees feel unwanted and this causes them to under perform. Managers need to deal with trade unions during times of grievance. These processes cost money and take up time, thus during that period the business will dramatically suffer financially. The disadvantages of personnel management is that it is quite time consuming. Managers cannot make a decision without considering the feelings and opinions of their employees. Employees may become frustrated with perpetual monitoring by managers.

The differences between personnel and Human Resources Management

Conclusion

In conclusion, each technique has its’ own advantages and disadvantages. Each one differs in terms of their nature, implementation, and approach. A business must have both these types of management in order to succeed. If a business only has one or the other they will ultimately fail. In the past, one technique might have worked but in this modern, dynamic world it will not. A business needs to have the correct balance between financial incentives and personnel engagement.

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