Blog Article

Renewing relations between HR and line managers

Posted by Jeff Blair

Jeff Blair

Conflicting priorities, old-fashioned protocols and mutual frustration all conspire to hamper relations between HR and line managers. Recent Hay Group research has found that HR must activate its line managers or be left behind.

  • Almost 50% of managers give their organizations low marks for offering new technologies or creative approaches.
  • 66% of line managers feel that HR closely guards information and data.
  • 50% of line managers admit they use Google to get to the information they think they need.

Technology provides HR with a solution. ‘Activating’ the line – strengthening relations between HR and line managers so that the latter act independently but within the framework of company HR policy – offers a radical new way to get ahead.

Work is being transformed. Digital knowledge is fast becoming the powerhouse of the global economy. Redesigning work processes to better suit individuals rather than the organization is becoming the norm. Leaders must embrace the creativity, curiosity, and open minds of ‘digital natives,’ but offer frameworks and guidance where needed. Those that choose to ignore this reality are likely to be left behind.

What globalization 2.0 makes abundantly clear is that the days of one or two ‘heroes’ at the top of organizations dictating strategy are well and truly over. Leaders, inclusive of HR leaders, need to be highly collaborative and have the ability to lead diverse teams over which they may have no direct authority. Organizations will need to become much more agile, operating like a flattened matrix, where information and authority flow in all directions rather than cascading down from the top. They must also give serious thought to what drives employee commitment, and where they need to focus to protect retention amidst the talent exodus that has already started.

And while HR is important in translating strategic decisions into policies and procedures that guide employees, line managers are your most critical link between strategy and execution. It’s their job to keep workers motivated, productive, and in tune with your organization’s objectives, all along stimulating business growth. This is what we call ‘activate,’ and to achieve this, managers need to be empowered. But it is no easy task. While organizations tend to be good at defining strategy, they are typically poor at executing and implementing it. New HR technologies can enable this information exchange and thus empower the line to carry out HR-established protocols.

HR has an opportunity to be at the forefront in the activation of line managers, and lead in the creation of an empowered workforce through the use of technology. Embracing technology will ensure they stay competitive and don’t start losing their best talent.


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