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Dear Workforce Why Are Line Managers Carrying Out HR Functions

HR must overcome the stigma that it’s strictly an internal administrative function.
October 10, 2001
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Related Topics: The HR Profession, Dear Workforce
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Q

Dear Workforce:

Why is line management in many organizations performing the human resourcesconsulting role?

-- Corporate sales director, hospitality, Lake Mary, Florida.

A Dear Line Management Wonderer:

Few executive leaders would disagree that their company's people are its mostvaluable asset. In a continually changing market, many organizations have begunto recognize that people issues are not merely an administrative detail, but acritical component of the overall business strategy.

Attracting, developing, deploying, and retaining key talent has everything todo with how sustainable a company's competitive position is. Yet the HR functionin many organizations has not been successful in proving its value to therevenue-generating parts of most companies. As a result, line management hasassumed the role of the human resources consultant.

There are a number of reasons why this has transpired. The introduction ofnew technologies, industry consolidation, and globalization resulted in acompetitive landscape that often rewards scale and skill players. So, companieshave gotten bigger and the workforce is often geographically dispersed.

Meanwhile, reductions in corporate support functions have frequently beentargeted for efficiency gains, so many HR departments have transformed intospecialty shops focusing on compensation, benefits, and employment law. At thesame time, diverse business units within a single corporation have become moreautonomous and there are fewer touch points between the people on the front lineand the HR department. As a result, line management is often called upon toassist with people issues due to their proximity, availability, and trustedstatus.

The truth is that HR has historically been relegated to being an internaladministrative function, and in many organizations it has conformed to thisexpectation. In order to gain credibility as a strategic partner, HRprofessionals must be proactive in overcoming this stigma. They must demonstratean understanding of what drives the business and focus their energy onactivities that are directly aligned with business objectives. This means beingwilling to seek feedback from internal customers and consistently demonstratingthe value of HR initiatives in ways that are meaningful to those with profit andloss responsibility.

SOURCE: Betsy Drawert, consultant, organizational solutions practice,Personnel Decisions International Corp. (PDI), May 17, 2001.

LEARN MORE: Read more than 100 articles and tips on HR services and the HRprofession.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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