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What does a Personnel Director do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A personnel director is a human resources (HR) manager at a corporation, government office, university, hospital, or any other professional setting with many employees. He or she is responsible for overseeing many aspects of HR, typically including training programs, payroll and benefits management, and labor relations. Personnel directors at smaller companies often perform many clerical duties themselves, while professionals at large businesses typically supervise the managers of many different HR divisions. The job requires extensive knowledge of company policies and excellent communication skills.

A major role of the personnel director is to oversee hiring and training of new employees. A director often conducts or sits in on interviews to determine whether job seekers would be the right fit for open positions. When new workers are hired, the personnel director often organizes group or individual training programs. He or she also may develop performance review protocols to help HR managers better assess their employees' skills. If refresher courses and reprimands are ineffective at promoting better performance, the director usually has the final say about letting a worker go.

Personnel directors help maximize efficiency, increase profits, and maintain worker satisfaction. They bridge the gap between company executives and HR employees at every level, ensuring that important policies are followed while workers receive fair treatment. When an employee has a complaint or suggestion, he or she can explain the situation to the director, who can in turn consult with executives to find a reasonable solution. In addition, a personnel director often sets wages, grants raises and promotions, and designs benefits packages.

Computer proficiency is essential for a personnel director in most business settings. A director typically spends a large portion of the workday on a computer, reviewing company policies, updating employee files, and scheduling various activities. Written communication skills are important as well to ensure that office memos and e-mail correspondence effectively convey information to workers.

The requirements to become a personnel director can vary between different places of employment. Many companies promote HR workers and managers to director positions after they gain several years of experience and demonstrate competency for the job. People who know they want to become directors can greatly improve their chances of finding work by obtaining advanced degrees in business administration, HR, or labor relations. Most professionals begin their careers as assistant directors to gain experience, receive guidance from a knowledgeable mentor, and master the skills necessary to succeed.

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Discussion Comments

By SarahSon — On Oct 01, 2011

@Mykol - My sister works as a personnel director for a small company and she has quite a variety of duties. She has worked for this company for a number of years and started out as a receptionist.

Through the years she has worked her way into this personnel director position and does not have a college degree.

I think it depends on the size and nature of the company whether this position would require a college degree or not.

Since she started out as a receptionist and has done just about every human resource job available in the company, her years of experience have made her well qualified for this position.

If she were to apply for a personnel director position for another company, they may require the applicants to have a college degree.

By Mykol — On Sep 30, 2011

One of my college roommates graduated with her bachelor's degree in personnel services. Since graduating she has worked at a few different human resource positions in both large and small companies.

Each position has been an advancement and her goal is to become the personnel director of a company.

I often wondered if people in these human resource positions were required to have a college degree, or if years of experience in the field would qualify them for these kind of positions.

I am sure her degree has always been beneficial for her in each job she had, but would think much of this could be learned as on the job training.

By miriam98 — On Sep 30, 2011

@MrMoody - That sounds right, on all counts. What surprises me is reading from the article that the personnel director has the last word on letting someone go.

At first that didn’t make sense, but when I thought about it, it made perfect sense. Before you fire someone, you have to do your homework, so to speak, to avoid unlawful termination lawsuits.

I would guess that the personnel director would have to ensure that these rules had been followed, and that other mediation attempts with the employee had failed, before giving the final okay to let that employee go.

I certainly don’t believe that the personnel director has higher authority than the boss in these matters, but they are there to make sure that all the proper steps have been taken before dismissing the employee.

By MrMoody — On Sep 29, 2011

@nony - All other qualifications aside, I think that it takes a certain type of personality type to be a good employment director. You definitely need to be able to deal with difficult people and difficult situations in my opinion.

I would think that tact and diplomacy would be important traits you would need to possess too.

By nony — On Sep 29, 2011

@NathanG - We just recently hired a training and development director for our business. She has had extensive experience in corporate training with Fortune 500 companies.

She now coordinates training programs in conjunction with the Human Resource director. These include internal programs, where she coordinates training for new hires, as well as training for our customers as well.

We work in the software industry and offer training classes to our customers, both onsite and at our premise. All of this goes through the training and development director, whom my boss has described as a “clearinghouse” for all training related activities.

She has helped to relieve some of the burden off of the personnel director, so he can focus on other needs of the employees.

By NathanG — On Sep 28, 2011

We work for a small business with one HR manager who performs the duties of the personnel director, as well as some clerical duties as said in the article.

One of the things that he does is handle complaints by employees about insurance claims. He doesn’t file the claims himself obviously but he does contact the insurance representative in our area who handles the policy to see if they can resolve the situation.

In addition, since we are a small business, unfortunately we change insurance providers more frequently than most companies will. It’s the HR manager who arranges the group meeting and introduces us to the new insurance policy, and he takes questions from other employees as well.

I don’t know if this is a typical personnel director job description, but it is certainly the case in our business.

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