Human Resource vs. Personal Management

Human Resource Management (HRM) and personal management are a part of one science thus they differ in their scope and goals. The main difference between HRM and personal management is that HTM concentrates on organization, workplace, and relations between employees while personal management deals with personal relations only.

Critical Academic theory of HRM (developed by Legge 2004; Wilkinson 1998) questions its relation to postmodernism which sees a man as individual Beardwell et al 2004). The main limitation of the Critical Academic theory is that it sees employees as the subject and a computer as a subject of organizational relations.

A great deal of commentary and research in HRM and industrial/organizational psychology points to the importance of establishing trust–a quality relationship– between management and workers (Campbell et al 1994). Perhaps this is a reaction to the vastly increased instability and reduced tenure of workers in their jobs.

On the other hand, perhaps it is a recognition that the productivity and quality required to compete in today’s global marketplace is not likely to be attained and sustained without workers who trust management to recognize and meet their needs. Many studies show that management knows this and is struggling to achieve compatibility between this recognition and the demands of the bottom line (Armstrong 2001).

The HRM literature is rich with cost-benefit analyses of cooperative labor-management programs that lie outside the traditional bargaining relationship as well as those associated with cooperative contract negotiations (Armstrong, 2003). To date, however, there has not been a thorough examination of the role of the grievance process in labor-management cooperative ventures.

The Labor-Management Relations (LMR) model, consists of seven components: boundary-role factors, background factors, environmental factors, grievance process, joint labor-management programs, contract negotiations, and labor-management outcomes. In the remainder of this chapter, each of these components is briefly discussed, except labor-management outcomes, which have already been introduced.

The LMR model assumes that interactions between labor and management can be characterized as falling along a continuum that ranges from adversarial or uncooperative, where at least one of the parties takes a strong competitive stance against the other; to cooperative, which involves an attempt to work with the other side in the hope of achieving mutually satisfying solutions to problems.

An adversarial stance is routinely adopted by those parties who view collective bargaining as a win-lose confrontation, where bargaining power dominates. Parties that elect to engage in cooperation, on the other hand, view their relationship from a win-win perspective (Campbell et al 1994).

The boundary-role factors involve representative functions that at first glance appear to be at odds with each other. Specifically, the grievance officials represent their groups’ positions and interests to the other side; hence, their bargaining orientations will be influenced by constituent demands and expectations.

But they also represent the views of the other side to their constituents, and in doing so, the officials are likely to be familiar with the other side’s priorities, strengths, weaknesses, and predilections (Armstrong, 2003). With this special knowledge, they are bound to alter how they approach the resolution of grievances. When plant-level grievances or problems are resolved amicably, or collective bargaining outcomes are achieved through cooperation and trust, acceptance tends to filter up the industrial relations hierarchy (Campbell et al 1994).

But labor and management rarely perceive collective bargaining as having cooperative potential; rather they automatically assume that it is an adversarial exercise aimed at dealing with divergent interests. Thus, the key to cooperation is to convert a win-lose relationship into one where both sides can potentially benefit. In the remainder of this section, two major types of incentives for cooperative collective bargaining will be explored: controlling issues and establishing and maintaining integrative frameworks (Bartlett and Ghoshal, 1999).

In contrast to HRM, personal management sees employees as the main assets of the organization. Today, as a matter of policy, it is common for organizations to advertise their vision and mission. In their annual reports, many organizations stress the importance of their human resources. These glossy reports often relate the diversity that exists among their employees and pictures them in responsible positions. They also often include a statement that their prosperity and competitive position could not possibly have been achieved without their “excellent” human resources (Reed 2001).

An organization’s recruiting literature needs to include this information because it is in these representations that an organization’s values are in here, particularly as they relate to accommodating themselves to the needs of particular segments of the work population. This information allows prospective employees to decide for themselves whether they can identify with these stated values and is, therefore, an important element in enabling self-selection (Bartlett and Ghosha 1999l).

Functional, Specific Content, and Adaptive. Each component has a different origin and serves a different objective. Functional Skill originates in the physical, mental, and interpersonal capacities of the individual and manifests in how individuals grapple with the Things, Data, and People in their environment.

Although few, these are “enabling skills” essential in processing an infinite number of specific content areas in the world of work. Specific Content Skills originate primarily in an activity situation (work, study, or leisure) and are the competencies necessary to master the requirements and standards of particular crafts and/or areas of knowledge (Rosow and Casner-1998).

Adaptive Skills have their origin in an individual’s experience in growing and adjusting, and like Functional Skills, enable an individual to deal effectively with the physical, social, and interpersonal environment in which activities are practiced. Another central idea is that work is a holistic experience. Workers bring all of themselves to the workplace.

Each worker has a unique pattern of needs and capabilities about physical, mental, and interpersonal involvement. Depending on the opportunities, facilities, and challenges available in the job-worker situation, each worker juggles these needs and capabilities to achieve balance, satisfaction, and wholeness. (Bartlett and Ghosha 1999l).

The main similarity between this approach is that they see an employee as the main driven force of productivity and effective performance. Much of the work that needs to be done requires a range of skills from low to high, from relatively little training and experience to a great deal. The experienced craftsperson moves easily from one level of skill to another in getting a job done.

In some instances more work can get done, greater productivity is achieved if skilled workers have assistants who can help out with the less skilled work (Campbell et al 1994). Most complete jobs in any field consist mostly of low- and medium-skilled work and a considerably smaller proportion of highly skilled work (Schuler, 1998). Persons doing the lower-skilled work can be allowed to do the more skilled work if properly coached and supervised. That is how people grow in their jobs.

However, the reward system –pay, bonuses, promotions–must fairly and equally reflect this. Employers are finding they can achieve greater productivity by having a flexible workforce rather than depending on specialists to perform specific work.

Achieving this greater productivity requires management to contract with workers in good faith to maintain pay, benefits, and working conditions commensurate with their increasing value to the organization. In such a work situation workers grow naturally to achieve greater skill and experience. Flexibility, thus, can be an advantage to both worker and employer (Barham and Conway 1998; Storey,1989).

There is some evidence that effective personal management is positively related to job performance, but the relationship is conflicting across samples and measures of performance? (Bartlett and Ghoshal,1999). The relationship between career pledge and job performance is also irregular across studies, with some proof that career pledge is positively related to job performance.

Though, observed relationships between career pledge and job performance were not as strong as they were between the (affective) organizational pledge and job performance. Additionally, the affective organizational pledge is defined in terms of support for the organization, which should translate into job performance (Reed 2001).

Thus, one would anticipate the dually committed to having the uppermost levels of job performance, followed by organizations, careerists, and the uncommitted. Accessible proof suggests that, when continuance pledge is related to job performance, the relationship is negative. The uppermost levels of job performance, therefore, should be between careerists, followed by the dually committed, organizations, and the uncommitted (Campbell et al 1994).

Management and organized labor have also embarked on cooperative efforts under less pressing circumstances. The potential benefits to management from joint action with organized labor include a decline in costs of production and an increase in product quality, which, in either case, ensures a greater competitive advantage for the firm.

In particular, a reduction in production costs is likely to occur out of programs associated with more efficient use of materials, a decline in accident and error rates, or an increase in output per unit of labor (Reed 2001). Product quality, on the other hand, maybe enhanced by programs aimed at quality control, innovation, and customer concerns. For management, the downside of cooperation involves both pecuniary and non-pecuniary costs.

The major personal benefits from labor-management cooperation focus on employee gains, including greater job security, improved working conditions, and better communication with management. Moreover, assuming that joint activities result in these benefits, union officials may gain greater respect from their constituencies.

Cooperation, as noted earlier, is also likely to improve the overall relationship between the union and management, possibly opening up other avenues of mutually benefiting interactions (Armstrong 2003).

In sum, HRM can make the most of this asset, beginning with an open and wholesome interaction in a focus group. However, personal management is seen only as of the starting point for building a trusting relationship between manager and worker. For personal management to take full effect, an organization must channel the energy provided by the focus group into the widest possible range of HRM applications. In describing these applications, Fine and Cronshaw go well beyond the conventional description of HR techniques.


Armstrong, M. 2003. Human Resource Management. Kogan Page.

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Bartlett, C. and Ghoshal, S. 1999. Managing Across Borders: The Transnational Solution. 2nd edition, London: Ramsden House.

Barham K., Conway C. 1998. Developing business and people internationally: A mentoring approach. Ashridge Research.

Beardwell, I. Holden, L., Claydon, T. 2004, Human Resource Management, London Pitman Publishing.

Campbell, A., Goold, M., Alexander, M. 1994. Corporate Level Strategy. London: John Wiley.

Reed A. 2001. Innovation in Human Resource Management. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Rosow, J., Casner-Lotto, J. 1998. People, Partnership and Profits: The new labor-management agenda, Work in America Institute, New York.

Schuler, R. 1998. Managing Human Resources. Cincinnati, Ohio: South-Western College Publishing.

Storey, J. 1989. New perspectives on Human Management, Routledge, London.

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