Line managers key to good HR

by 22 Jan 2008

THE ROLE of line managers is becoming increasingly important in influencing employee engagement in the workplace, according to a recent UK report.

While this may not be surprising, given that line managers play a crucial part in the delivery of effective people management, what is now becoming clearer is a broadening and deepening of their involvement.

The report, commissioned by the Chartered Institute and Personnel Development (CIPD), found that there is confusion as to the role of line managers and focuses on how learning and development specialists and reward professionals can provide them with the support to develop the skills necessary to carry out their roles.

“One major obstacle preventing progress in creating sustainable high performing organisations rests with the balance between what are and should be HR and line manager responsibilities for people management and development,”said Victoria Winkler, CIPD learning training and development adviser.

“Increasing line manager involvement in learning and development is one important part of the broader changing relations between line managers and human resources management.”

The report, Line Managers in Reward, Learning and Development, also highlights concerns about the effectiveness of line managers. Common issues raised among the organisations interviewed was the lack of training for line managers, competing business pressures and a need to align learning, development and reward objectives with the wider organisational strategy.

As economies such as the UK’s become increasingly service-led, Winkler said organisations cannot afford to be complacent about addressing their employees’ needs. “It is disappointing to see that only a small number of organisations saw the importance of frontline managers in translating people management and development policies into practice,” she said.

“If an employee feels supported by their line manager, they will feel engaged with and committed to their organisation. This will in turn improve attendance, reduce staff turnover and ensure that employees are willing to ‘go that extra mile’.”

Until line managers are recognised as the strategic partners of HR and given the recognition for their responsibilities, Winkler said a lack of accountability to people management will continue.

Charles Cotton, CIPD employment conditions adviser, added that reward professionals expect line managers to make and communicate pay decisions, yet rarely ask for their views when creating reward systems.

“Reward professionals need to build policies around the strengths of the organisation, including line managers, and over time, develop the capabilities of line managers so that they are able to make better reward decisions. Otherwise, money is simply being wasted,” he said.


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