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Can HR trust line managers

Recent research has shown that around two thirds of HR professionals have delegated transactional activities to line managers. On the one hand, this sounds like a triumph for strategic HR; administrative tasks are being handled at a line manager-to-employee level while HR gets on with the task of delivering value to the organisation.

On the other hand, it appears HR is losing trust in line managers to carry out these tasks properly. 60% of those surveyed claimed that they were ‘fairly confident’ that line managers could handle the job, but 62% worried about losing control.

A similar percentage said that line managers were handling transactional activities such as booking leave or recording sickness absence, but also disciplinary and grievance procedures.

The real issue at play here, though, is how HR professionals have devolved their administrative tasks to line managers. Have they simply been handed down without explanation or have the line managers been given the training and tools they need in order to carry them out?

The resulting confusion and lack of direction would not be the fault of the line managers, it would be the fault of HR for not providing that direction. Even for smaller organisations, Self Service tools are available now that facilitate many of the HR day-to-day tasks and even provide documentation management for line managers to refer to when more weighty tasks such as grievances or disciplinaries do arise.

If HR is to be taken seriously, it does need to move away from administrating, but it needs to ensure line managers are fully equipped, and see the benefit. It also needs to relinquish control over these day-to-day tasks in order to properly focus on talent management, succession planning and other value-added people strategies.

Only then can all colleagues trust that the business can get the basics right, and the ensuing engagement and productivity benefits will naturally follow.

  • 1st September 2011
  • HR




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