Line managers need to work with their human resource departments and not against them if businesses are to thrive says HR specialist, Lizanne de Jong.
A line manager can refer to any typical management function in the business such as marketing, production or finance manager.
Line managers are responsible for a number of activities in the department such as budgeting, recruitment, performance management, and disciplinary or grievance procedures.
This is where the duties of line mangers and HR departments overlap leading to confusion and finger pointing.
In addition, line managers have a tendency to disregard the policies and protocols of the business and “don't always understand why HR departments do things in a certain way”, states de Jong.
This blatant disregard can fuel tensions and add to the breakdown in communication and understanding within the organisation.
When there is a breakdown in staff relationships the resulting behaviour will lead to a “blaming culture”.
For example line managers are often reluctant to get involved in skills audits but when skills shortages occur in their department they are quick to hold HR responsible for this oversight.
According to de Jong, “line managers expect HR to address all staff needs and issues.” If problems arise HR departments are the first to get the blame.
It is imperative that these two groups find a way to work together to prevent issues like skills shortages and poor employee performance.
In order to do this the roles, boundaries and duties for each position must be clearly defined. Businesses also have to determine where those duties converge and outline shared responsibilities.
“The most important thing to realize is that we need to build a different relationship between HR and line managers in order for us to produce what we want to produce”, explains de Jong.
Good relationships are critical to the health and productivity of the business.
Whether HR plays a consultant role, advisory role or is seen as a last resort, defining this role and communicating it to the rest of the organisation can help to build relationships.
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