One of the biggest shocks that new line managers face is the amount of HR the role involves.
In this article, we’ll explore how and why line managers work with HR as part of their role.
HR is responsible for all aspects of people management throughout an organisation.
It has responsibility for:
For full details see this article: 10 Things HR Departments Do To Help Their Employees Succeed
A line manager has direct responsibility for everyone in their team. Our article – What Is A Line Manager? – covers this in more detail.
This part of the role of a line manager is often the steepest learning curve for new line managers.
They will be involved whenever HR gets involved with one of their team. This could be an individual-specific issue, or when HR are rolling out a new policy or procedure, that needs communicating to everyone in the business.
Line managers know their team better than anyone else and so are best placed to work with HR to reach the best outcome.
Knowing this effective line managers build good relationships with their HR department.
They know that they will need to work closely with HR day-to-day across a number of areas. In addition, they know that if they have issues with an employee, HR will be able to offer valuable help and advice in sorting the problem out.
Let’s take a closer look at the areas where HR and line managers overlap.
Line managers are responsible for their team’s performance.
Consequently, they are ideally positioned to identify any skill gaps that an individual on their team might have.
If they identify a significant skill gap, the line manager will need to work with HR to resolve it.
Filling the skill gap may require sending them on a course or a structured mentoring programme. Either way working with your HR department is likely to achieve the best result.
A company’s appraisal process will be established by HR. However, it is implemented by line managers – see this guide to running performance reviews for more details.
Line managers are best placed to carry out performance reviews because they have the closest working relationship with their team members.
They can offer the most insightful comments on performance and attitude and ensure that the appraisal is as fair and detailed as possible.
Once an appraisal is completed, it will need to be registered with HR. If any issues are identified, then the line manager may work with HR to resolve them.
Line managers take an active part in interviewing new hires for their team, as they will manage the new hire day-to-day once hired.
Usually, HR is responsible for producing job specifications, running job adverts and carrying out an initial screen of applicants.
However, once HR has built a list of potential candidates, they will then work with line managers to interview candidates and choose someone for the role.
While no-one is perfect obviously in order for a manager to decide who their prefered candidate is they will need to have a list of the qualities that they look for in all of their team members.
Line managers work hand in hand with HR where salary is involved.
One of the annual appraisal process outputs will be recommendations regarding an individual’s pay and whether they should receive a pay rise.
As HR is responsible for managing a company’s salary structure and payroll, this obviously has to be done in conjunction with them.
Line managers act as the liaison between the company and the employee.
They are often used to relay information – good or bad – to their teams.
If the information is HR related, line managers will work with HR to ensure that announcements are handled appropriately and carried out at the right time.
If a team member has issues with the announcement, their line manager will be responsible for liaising with HR to address the problems.
Line managers are responsible for ensuring the well-being of their team.
This responsibility ranges from small tasks like rearranging an employee’s workload if they are struggling, to more important tasks like ensuring that employees have the appropriate safety equipment.
If an employee has a severe well-being issue (for example suffering from stress caused by an excessive workload), then the matter would need to be reported to HR so that you can find a combined solution.
The ability to listen clearly to team members to understand what is going on is another skill that new line managers need to learn – see this article on listening skills for line managers for more details.
Being a line manager means working closely with your HR department. As we’ve seen, the roles overlap in a number of areas.
However, as a line manager, you need to make sure you don’t overstep the mark and start taking on tasks your HR department is responsible for.
Let’s look at a couple of the areas where you could get yourself in trouble as a line manager.
Line managers are responsible for implementing policies and procedures. They do not create policies and procedures.
Companies are hierarchical.
Line managers are responsible for implementing the corporate guidelines and policies they are given by HR. They should not be creating policies and procedures.
The Human Resources department is staffed by professionals who specialise in employment administration and legislation.
They will have an overarching human capital strategy for the business. The procedures and policies will fit within that strategy.
If you start creating procedures without a complete understanding of that strategy, you will cause all sorts of legal and practical problems.
Line managers play an important role in the recruitment process for new employees, as we’ve seen.
Employment contracts require specialist knowledge of employment law. This knowledge will reside in your HR department, and this is why they are responsible for creating new employment contracts.
Of course, if you will manage the individual concerned, you should have input into the contract, but the responsibility for creating the contract should be left to your HR department.
HR professionals and line managers need to work together to get the best out of employees and meet their company’s goals.
As a line manager, you need to understand where your responsibilities stop, and HR’s responsibilities start.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand where that line is.
If you have a concern, the best thing you can do is take some time to develop a good relationship with your HR department.
That way, if you’re not sure, you can easily pick up the phone to them.