The Common Frustration Between HR and Line Managers and How to Overcome It

By December 9, 2016
HR and line managers

Empowering line managers to manage their teams well should be a top business priority.

As their title suggests, line managers are on the frontline of managing people, and are the crucial link between the C-level suite and the employees that drive the business forward.

Interestingly, most line managers did not start out with the end goal of managing people in mind. Think about it, if you are an accountant, chances are you went to university to get skilled in accounting and not people management. Line managers therefore need to be supported by HR to ensure operational efficiency.

At the same time, with many organisations in the midst of digital transformation, the lines are blurring between the customary roles of line managers and HR executives.

The Relationship between HR and Line Managers

Managing people can be tricky business. While HR typically oversees people management, line managers also play a central role in ensuring the success of people management initiatives.

Some of the tasks that involve both HR and line managers tend to centre on performance management, staffing, workforce strategy and conflict resolution.

However, the relationship between HR and line managers can be mutually frustrating at times. A study in 2014 by the Hay Group found that HR tends to feel overburdened by the high volume of routine transactional requests by line managers.

Conversely, line managers indicated that they found HR slow to respond to their requests.

This frustration can easily be avoided through the adoption of cloud enabled mobile technology.

Technology as an tool for Empowerment

The 2016 PwC HR Technology survey found that 70% of businesses already use mobile technology for at least one HR function. A majority of this adoption revolves around workflow automation – and with good reason.

A modern cloud HRIS should have workflow automation capabilities, which could empower line managers to take on HR tasks that are closely related to the running of their teams.

For example, simple transactions such as leave requests and the updating of personal details can be made easier though employee self-service dashboards. This allows notifications to go straight to line managers for quick and easy approval.

This way, line managers can not only react quickly to requests made by their own team, they also have a bird’s eye view of their team’s schedule and can make informed staffing decisions.

Additionally, this also removes the need for HR intervention, easing time pressures on an often inundated HR team.  Modern HRIS systems can also be configured to notify HR when there is an escalation that requires their involvement.

Ultimately, technology is a tool that empowers employees and line managers to take control of their own administration by creating a sense of ownership over such activities.

A Strategic Shift

While the adoption of cloud technology is seen as a widely beneficial change that improves efficiency, such a move resonates at a deeper level within organisations. Reducing the HR focus on repetitive administrative tasks gives your HR team the opportunity to increase their strategic involvement in meeting your organisational goals.

With the emergence of new business challenges and priorities in this fast-paced digital age, it is now more important than ever to reimagine the role of HR from one that was merely administrative to one that now drives strategic innovation for business growth.