Personnel Management VBS107 (Organising, Managing, Controlling Staff)

Learn to Manage Staff

Study at home, at your own pace for skills to work as a personnel manager, employment officer, supervisor, foreman or business owner.


This course contains ten lessons, as follows:

1. Human behaviour

  • Individual and group behaviour
  • Perception
  • Gestalt theory of perception
  • Influences on perception: behaviour, appearance, expectations, primary effect, attribution, schemas
  • Perception and reality
  • Selective attention
  • Central traits
  • Attribution
  • Kelley's theory of attribution
  • Changing perceptions
  • Defence mechanisms
  • Psychologically healthy individuals
  • Influences on human behaviour
  • Socialisation
  • Family influence
  • Influence of school
  • Influence of peers
  • Influence of society

2. Workplace communications

  • Communication defined
  • Variables affecting communication: context, nature and quality of the transmitted message and the received message
  • Effective communication
  • Listening effectively
  • Giving clear instructions

3. Workplace conditions

  • Unions
  • Duty of care
  • Workplace safety
  • Costs of illness and injury
  • Lifting and manual handling
  • Protective equipment
  • Workplace bullying and violence
  • Workplace design; physical and psychological factors
  • Colour
  • Office landscaping

4. Controlling Operations

  • Supervising staff: listening, informing, leading
  • Managing a project
  • Applying standards
  • Monitoring performance
  • Regulating progress
  • Giving directives and introducing change
  • Dealing with contingencies
  • Developing contingency plans
  • Problem solving methodology
  • Stock control
  • Quality control
  • Production control
  • Labour utilisation control
  • Financial control

5. Recruitment and Induction

  • Advertising a position
  • Interviewing
  • Interview guidelines
  • Interview questions
  • Types of questions

6. Staff training

  • Responsibilities of a trainer
  • Factors affecting learning: Attention, intelligence, self esteem. etc
  • How we learn
  • Memory
  • Assessing training needs
  • Sources of information for a needs assessment
  • Communication skills for trainers
  • Body language
  • Reasons that people do not learn -communication barriers
  • Developing conversation
  • Effective questioning
  • Motivating learners
  • Principles of learning
  • Adult learners

7. Work teams

  • Conformity -Heider's Balance Theory
  • Different styles of handling conflict
  • Delegation
  • Delegation situations: High Experience/Low Motivation; High Experience/High Motivation etc
  • Conflict handling techniques
  • Dealing with anger (in yourself and in others)
  • Negotiation
  • Joint problem solving approach
  • Mediation
  • Negotiation problems

8. Positive Discipline

  • Static and dynamic principle
  • Giving praise
  • Enforcing rules
  • The disciplinary interview
  • Changing behaviour -classic and operant conditioning
  • Reinforcement
  • Punishment

9. Grievances and Complaints

  • Detecting a problem
  • Guidelines for dealing with grievances
  • Reducing grievances
  • Applying the formal problem solving technique

10. Monitoring and Reporting

  • Monitoring performance
  • Observation
  • Regular review
  • Scheduled evaluations
  • Report writing
  • Work study
  • Techniques of work study
  • Work measurement


  • Explain how perception, learning and prior experience influence human behaviour
  • Identify and practice communication skills that will improve your ability to effectively receive and transmit messages in the workplace
  • Explain factors that contribute to overall workplace conditions and can affect workplace culture
  • Explain basic supervising practices for controlling business or department operations
  • Identify essential processes in the recruitment and induction of employees
  • Describe the key elements of planning and conducting effective staff training
  • Describe how team processes can be used to improve performance and productivity
  • Identify methods to establish and maintain discipline through positive means, such as reinforcement and increasing motivation
  • Describe strategies for reducing dissatisfaction and handling dissatisfaction when it arises
  • Explain the importance of monitoring workplace processes and performance, and how to report your observations


Working as a Human Resources Officer

Human resources personnel are responsible for providing support, and effectively using personnel within an organisation. This course is a useful starting point in training for any type of work in the human resources field.

A human resources officer is involved in recruiting appropriate staff for employment, ensuring the person is the right fit for the job, and making sure there is a balance of skills and experience throughout the staff. Different sized companies may have different roles, but some of the activities that HR officers will typically be involved in include:

  • recruitment
  • pay rate
  • employment conditions and job descriptions
  • performance monitoring
  • writing and implementing personnel policies
  • basic counselling
  • working practices
  • staff training and development
  • working practices
  • equality and diversity

In the past HR officers were primarily involved in recruitment, staff welfare, and administration. These days, HR officers may also be involved in strategy and planning to ensure the organisation’s objectives are meant. This means the HR officer will need to ensure the right staff are hired, trained appropriately, and retained.

These days most bigger organizations have one or more HR officers, so there are many opportunities for HR officers. In smaller organizations, the HR officer may be responsible for all matters pertaining to personnel, however in larger organizations the HR officer may specialise in a particular area, such as training, wages, or recruitment.

To be a good HR officer you will need to have excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills as your primary role will be dealing with staff. You will also need to have good planning and time-management skills, and be able to effectively analyse and solve problems.

Risks and challenges
As an HR officer you will be dealing with staff problems, complaints and issues. This may be stressful at times. Staff may also confide in personal problems which may be emotionally stressful. You may also be involved in staff dismissals and letting people know they were not successful in gaining employment, so you may be dealing with people who are emotional and disappointed.

How to become an HR officer
Most people will complete studies to become an HR officer. Studies may or may not directly include studies in HR, but may include a combination of psychology, management, business, counseling and more. Other people may find their way into an HR officer through work experience. For example working first as a recruitment officer or employment consultant to develop some of the skills then moving into an HR position.

Regardless of how the skills are developed, some of the skills and knowledge you will need as an HR officer include:

  • knowledge of relevant legislation
  • counseling, mentoring, and coaching skills
  • supervising and managerial skills
  • knowledge of tools to assess prospective staff and staff performance
  • team building and problem solving skills
  • computer skills
  • effective communication skills – written and oral
  • interviewing skills
  • time management and organisational skills

Other related jobs might include

  • Recruitment consultant
  • Administration
  • Workplace Health and Safety Officer
  • Occupational Health and Safety Officer
  • Training Officer
  • Industrial Relations Officer
  • Organisational Psychologist





The first task of a manager is to know their own job. A manager who does not know and understand their own job, will almost certainly, not know their subordinates jobs. We talked about Jill in chapter 2, who was a good delegator, but did not know about the jobs of her subordinates. So it is important to ensure that you are clear about what you do and what your staff to.

Whilst it is important to learn to delegate and to be pragmatic in your use of others, it is important to be aware of the balancing act between too much and not enough delegation. Do not confuse delegation with abdication of work. You may assignment work to people in your charge, but as a manager, you cannot dispose of your responsibility to ensure the work is done. Delegation is not just about giving someone a task to carry out. It is also giving them goals to be achieved and ensuring that they reach those goals.

Not everyone is going to do a job the same way that you might have done it; but you should always consider how well they contributed to achieving the overall goal. We should also praise staff for their hard work and achievement and give them credit for the work they have done.

When a manager focuses on what was achieved, rather than how it was achieved, the value of delegation will be seen in a different light.

How Do You Tell Someone will be a Good Employee?

 Getting the right staff can be hard. A person may look ideal at an interview, but in the job setting, they may be terrible.

They may have the right qualifications, but not know how to put them into practice. They may have a great deal of work experience, but be stuck in a certain way of doing things that does not work well within your department.

Finding the right staff members takes effort. It is important to decide exactly what the job is that you want to fill – what do you expect the person to do?

Think about what sort of person you want to do that job. So before placing a job advert, ensure you are clear about exactly what qualifications, personality and work experience you want from the person.

THEN you need to decide what you are looking for. Many people will probably apply for the job. But only a certain percentage of those will have the right experience and qualifications that you want. Don’t be too strict about what you are looking for in terms of experience and qualifications though, sometimes someone may seem “not quite right” but could be fantastic. But that is a judgment call.

So you have some applicants who look suitable on paper. Now think what you are looking for –

  • Do you want someone who is good with people?
  • Someone who is willing to work extra hours when necessary?
  • Someone who can work flexibly – early mornings/late evenings or even shift work?
  • Do you want someone who is patient?
  • A good sense of humour?
  • Attention to detail?
  • Tidy and neat when packaging items?
  • Fast?

YOU will know what skills you want in that job. Think about what you want. Think about the people you already employ. Look at the ones who do the job well. What do they offer? What skills do they possess that you are looking for?

If you do not already employ someone in that job, we can presume that you have been doing the job yourself until now. If so, do exactly the same, think about the qualities you have given to the job that you want your new employer to have.

There is a lot of advice out there on how to find the best person. But if you are in charge of a smaller business, the person who knows BEST what they want from their employees is YOU. So think about what you want.

Now if you are in charge of a larger company, you may not find this so easy. You may be in charge of the overall strategy of the company, but not be involved in the day to day tasks involved. So if you are looking for a new person, for your mail room for example, go to your mail room and ask the staff what they think are essential requirements, ask the person in charge of that department, get their input. Perhaps ask them to draft a job advert of the type of person they are looking for. Get them involved. The more involved existing staff are in staff choice, the more invested they are in getting the new person to work as part of their team.

Attracting Staff
You may think this is easy, particularly in times of economic recession, but this is not always the case. You may advertise a specific job and have hundreds, maybe even thousands of people apply, but that does not mean that they could do the job or you would want them if they can. So it is also important to think about how you advertise and where. You might advertise in your local paper in the hope of getting someone local. You might advertise on a website throughout the world and country in the hope of getting the best candidate. You may advertise on social media. You may use recruitment agencies to weed out unsuitable people. Again, the method you use to attract staff will depend on what you are looking for.

Case Study – LS Accountants has found that when they advertise for part-qualified accountants, they get hundreds of people apply. Some may have some qualifications in accountancy or book keeping or maths, but are not the right qualifications they require. They think their advert is not specific enough, so state very clearly exactly what qualification they require, but still they get lots of people apply who are not suitable for the role. Eventually they begin to use a recruitment consultant who can then weed out people who are unsuitable and send suitable applicants to them. This saves the accountants’ time as they do not have to spend their time weeding through unsuitable applicants prior to interviews.

Preparing for the job interview

  • Develop a plan: don’t just wing it.
  • Write down key questions you might ask
  • Use open questions (i.e. That draws out different information from different applicants… you can learn about the applicant by how they choose to answer as well as by what they choose to say)
  • Get out any information or literature you may want to give to or show the applicant
  • Read a job application and anticipate questions the person might ask.
  • Take the time to write notes and conclusions after each interview
  • Do not just talk –spend at least 60% of the interview listening to the job applicant.

Another point to consider is also whether a new person will fit in well with the current workforce. Whilst this is hard to determine prior to them starting work, it is also something to consider if possible.

Maintaining the workforce
Once you have employed staff and have a team, it is also important to maintain the workforce. This does not necessarily mean always keeping the same staff. Even in the most ideal environment, it is unlikely that a staff team will remain the same for years and years. Things happen. People may leave for new jobs. They may move to another area. Get promoted. Have babies and not return to work or return to another job. Be ill. All of these things can affect a workforce. But also consider that is a workforce stays exactly the same for many years, it could be highly efficient and experienced or it could be stagnant. So occasional staff changes can be useful.

It is important though to ensure that the work force works well together and is a content workforce, as much as possible. A way to ensure that a department or team works well is through team building. This can be an ongoing process, when things change or a new staff member starts, but a happy, well coordinated team will work well, so it is wise for any manager to invest some time into team building.

Tuckman states that there are four stages in team building – forming, storming, norming and performing.

The formation of the team takes place in this stage. The individuals in the group all behave in a way to be accepted by others in the team. So they may avoid controversy and conflict. They may avoid serious feelings or issues. (This is a general statement, obviously there will always be some individuals who wish to be controversial or cause conflict. But these people will make themselves obvious fairly quickly, you will need to decide how to deal with that individual as they could destroy the team). The individuals will focus on organising who does what in the team – who does what, when do they meet etc. During this time, the individuals will also be forming impressions of each other, the task and how to approach it. And gathering information. A comfortable stage, but the lack of conflict means that little may actually get done. The team will meet and learn about the challenges and opportunities facing them, then agree goals and how to tackle the task. The team members will tend to behave quite independently. They may be on their “best behaviour.” It can be useful to share information with the team at this stage on the stages of forming a team.

You, as the manager, will tend to be directive in this stage.

This is the stage where different ideas compete to be considered. The team may have different ideas of what problems they are actually supposed to solve, they may function independently AND together. They may open up more to each other and confront each other’s ideas and thoughts. Storming can be resolved quite quickly in some cases. But in others, the team may get stuck at this stage. Some team members may focus on small irrelevant issues to evade the real issues.

This stage is necessary for the growth of the team. It can be unpleasant and sometimes painful to team members who do not like conflict. Each team member should be encouraged to be tolerant and patient during this phase.
If this stage because destructive, it can lower motivation.

The person in charge will tend to be directive in terms of guidance on decision making and professional behaviour.

At this stage, the team will have one goal and come to a mutual plan for the team. Some will have their own ideas, but agree with the rest of the team, so that the team can function. All members will take responsibility and want the team to succeed.

Teams at this stage are high performing teams. They function as a unit and get the job done effectively and smoothly with little inappropriate conflict or the need for supervision. They become interdependent as a team. They are knowledgeable and motivated. They are able to handle the decisions without supervision. There may still be conflict, but it is ok as long as it is handled appropriately and in a way accepted by the team. Sometimes teams may go back to another stage in some circumstances. For example, someone leaves, or there is a change in leadership. Then the group begins the process again.

So managers should be aware of how teams form and look at ways to encourage them to work together when recruiting new staff.

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