Personnel management styles in Human Resource Departments

In general, the management style is expressed in the way of work, in the proposed methods, tools, and approaches to achieve goals and solve specific tasks, in the coordination of personal and public (group) interests, in the interaction between management and staff (vertically and horizontal level).

The Human Resource Management style is manifested concerning personnel management.

The management style is considered a “relatively stable, general and internal individual configuration of personnel-related management activities”. Reference: “Effective Human Resources managers successfully perform leadership functions“,

The style of management depends on the knowledge, experience, situation, the specifics of the work, the characteristics of the staff, as well as many personal characteristics of managers. The most important among them are:

– authoritarianism;
– dominance / submissiveness (obedience, indulgence);
– anxiety;
– extraversion / introversion;
– risk-taking;
– aggression / tolerance;
– independence / non-independence;
– intelligence.

The interaction between these characteristics can lead to different variants of styles. Reference: “HR management in HR departments and organizations: psychological problems“,

There are many theories in the literature in which the classification of styles is based on different criteria.

1. One of the most famous and “old” classifications (1944) is that of Kurt Levin, depending on the way the decision was made:

a) authoritarian;
b) democratic;
c) liberal.

At the heart of this division is the right of subordinates to participate in decision-making. Reference: “Functions of the conflicts in organizations and Human Resources Management department“, Levin also proposes a scheme of degrees of participation:

– the HR manager makes a decision and announces it;
– the manager makes a decision and proposes it for discussion;
– the Human Resource Manager raises the problem, collects opinions, based on which he makes a decision;
– the leader determines the restrictions when choosing a decision and leaves the group to make the decision;
– the HR manager does not participate in the decision-making. Reference: “Types of conflicts in organizations: Human Resources Managers challenged“,

The democratic style is best perceived, as it complies with the basic psychological requirement to respect the human person. What degree of democracy is most effective for the specific work situation depends on the specifics of the group and the situation in which the decision is made. Reference: “Conflict Management in Human Resources Management“,

According to Tanenbaum and Schmidt, this leader deserves a positive assessment, as he shows principle in assessing his own and others’ abilities, as well as the situation, who can react flexibly according to these possibilities. These authors define styles as:

– authoritarian;
– cooperative.

A study of leadership styles through quantitative annals has been conducted since the 1950s at the University of Ohio (USA). Reference: “Human resource management (HRM) as a theory“,

Fleischmann simplifies (with statistical analysis) the initial form of dozens of factors related to styles, reducing them to two main factors:

– attentiveness (the degree to which the leader shows respect, cordiality, care, trust in his subordinates);
– official performance of official functions (the degree to which the manager follows the classic rules of planning, organization, control). Reference: “Evolution of the concept of Human Resources Management (HRM)“,

This two-factor model has been validated at the University of Michigan, but the two factors are called: 1) staff orientation; 2) orientation to the technical aspect of production.

These are independent, but not opposite parameters (a manager can have a high score on both indicators)!

Katz, McCobby, and Morse study a specific group of managers and subordinates and try to determine the factors associated with success in production. Reference: “Development of the Human Resources Management (HRM) concept“,

Managers put the following factors in the first place: staff orientation, devoting more time to the problems of the management itself, and the implementation of general management, rather than guardianship.
Subordinates do not distinguish between these factors! The explanation is that they have limited observations on management and their assessment would be unreliable.

Morse and Rainer are trying to prove the importance of delegating rights for work efficiency. Two groups are explored: the first delegates rights and the second does not. The hypothesis that the first group will be more effective is not confirmed. Reference: “Objectives of Human Resources Management (HRM)“,

But the satisfaction of subordinates in the first group was significantly greater. According to the authors, the effectiveness in both groups was relatively the same, as the study time was short. In a longer study, it is expected that the lack of job satisfaction (in the second group) will lead to turnover, and hence the efficiency will decrease more significantly.

Rensis Likert identifies 4 styles of leadership:

a) exploitative-authoritarian;
b) paternalistic-authoritarian;
c) consumable;
d) democratic.

The style in which subordinates are encouraged is democratic. It forms cohesion and is most effective for the organization. Style in this case is associated with motivation to succeed.

Critics of this division argue that we cannot expect the same style to be effective all the time, because people are “getting used” to it and it no longer impresses them.

Fiedler created the so-called “contingent model” of styles. According to him, the effectiveness of the group depends on the interaction between the leadership style and the degree of favorableness of the situation.

Ie the productivity of a group, whose work depends on the interaction between its members, is a function of the interaction between situational variables and the degree of respect of the leader for his least preferred collaborator:

– the degree to which the manager trusts and sympathizes with his subordinates;
– the degree of structure of the tasks and the possibility to be distributed among the members of the group;
– the extent to which the position of the manager is perceived as a manifestation of power.

If the manager evaluates his weakest employee positively, then he is oriented towards the staff, towards the relations with him. If the opposite is true – then he is task-oriented. Fiedler’s theory falls into the so-called “situational theories” (1967-74).

According to Fiedler, a “favorable situation” is one that gives greater control over the group’s behavior. Driven “lightly” when:

– there is trust in the group;
– the tasks are precisely defined;
– the leader has a certain power.

Fiedler limited his theory to activities that were carried out jointly by the whole group and in which the interaction was greatest.

It is difficult for a leader to be flexible because the management style is difficult to change.
An “adverse situation” is one in which:

– there is no trust and respect;
– tasks are difficult to distribute;
– the leader does not have enough power.


Personnel-oriented leaders act best in “medium” situations.
The conclusion is that it is very difficult to build an effective style of government, and according to Fiedler, the authoritarian, technocratic style is more effective.

Blanchett and Hursley point out 4 management styles, the main criterion being the degree of maturity of the subordinates. It is determined by the ability and desire to improve activity. When the “maturity” changes, the managerial style must be changed. The styles are:

– Authoritarian style (incapable and unwilling to work with subordinates);
– Integrating style (unable and unwilling to work);
– Participatory style (able and unwilling to work) (participation – empathy, inclusion);
– Delegating style (able and willing to work).