Personnel Management (Human Resource Management)

Three key skills are needed for effective Personnel Management:

  • Listening
  • Informing
  • Leading


This is a skill where the supervisor is informed by other team members about any relevant aspects of work in progress. Listening helps a supervisor identify potential problems and finds solutions to those problems. An important aspect of listening is attending to how things are said, the emotional content of the message that expresses possible frustration, disappointment, resentment or other negative emotions. The supervisor who notes both the content and the tone of a message is better able to identify potential problems and to resolve them quickly.


This is a skill that allows a supervisor to accurately convey information or instructions to other team members. Clear and timely informing helps the supervisor inform others of a project’s progress, and to communicate what is expected from them. Good informing is free of all ambiguity.


This is central to both listening and informing, and is recognition of a supervisor’s responsibilities and command. A critical element of good leadership is the ability of a supervisor to make decisions based upon the input and consensus of all involved. Some leading communications are recognition of good performance and rewarding it appropriately; correcting poor performance; and continuously motivating the employees or project team.

One area of great importance to personnel management is interviewing for new staff members, below are some guidelines:

Interviewing Guidelines

Interviewing is a skill which can be a great asset. The key skill in interviewing is not speaking, but good listening. If you really hear what the other person is saying, you will be able to get useful information about the applicant’s character and background that will emerge throughout the interview. The second most important skill is questioning, being able to ask questions that will get you the kind of information that you want and need. This means being able to ask questions that encourage frank and open disclosure, and to make the person feel comfortable enough to provide this information.

These are the basic procedures for conducting an interview:

  • Prepare for the interview. Find out what you can about your interviewee before you meet them. Read anything which has been written about them before. Speak to people who know them.
  • Write down the key questions you plan to ask. You might diverge from them, but a list will ensure you don't forget anything important.
  • Put the interviewee at ease. Don't interrogate them with one question after another. Do not communicate judgement. You are a reporter, not a judge and jury.
  • Take accurate and complete notes. First, explain why you are taking notes, otherwise a person can feel uncomfortable having you record everything they say. Sometimes a tape recorder is useful, particularly for a long interview. However, you must obtain the applicant’s permission to record.
  • State the purpose of the interview, and adhere to that purpose throughout. If you say you want to find out about the person’s experience in an area, or their attitude to certain issues, don’t introduce questions that are not relevant to those goals. If you decide to change direction (e.g. to discuss their experience with a competitor), first clearly indicate your intention, explain why you think this new direction is relevant, and ask the person’s permission.
  • Respect the wishes of the interviewee. If a person says something "off the record", or asks you not to record their answer to a particular question, respect their privacy. If you cannot, clearly say so beforehand. Also, if a person expresses discomfort with a question, or is reluctant to answer, do not insist. If there is no clear reason for the reluctance, such as possible discrimination, you might ask. But you cannot compel a person to answer a question, even if their failure to do so might affect their chances of being selected.
  • Observe very carefully. Listen very carefully. Much information and insight about a person’s attitude, values and experience can be gained by careful listening and by observing their body language as they talk about different topics. Also, if you misquote or mis-represent what an interviewee has said, or intended to say, you can create serious legal complications.


If you are serious about learning to manage staff effectively we recommend our Personnel Management and Supervision courses.

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