RSS icon

Top Stories

DEAR WORKFORCE

Dear Workforce How Do We Overcome Line Managers’ Reluctance to Perform HR Tasks

What are the advantages and disadvantages of devolving human resource management to line managers? Our line managers don’t seem to appreciate this relationship.
March 8, 2007
ASK A QUESTION
Related Topics: Change Management, HR Services and Administration, Motivating Employees, Dear Workforce
Reprints
Dear At Wit's End:

Part of human resource management has always resided with the line manager. As organizations continue to push for a leaner operating structure in HR, as well as the rest of the organization, many tasks are being devolved, or delegated, to line managers.
What are the advantages and disadvantages? Of course, those depend on whom you are asking.
Unfortunately, managers may only see advantages if HR was viewed as an obstacle to getting things done, and the line managers are now empowered to "cut out the middleman." Also, unless the manager was previously being charged back for HR services, and is not now, there is no benefit to their budget. So, it is just more work.
If this strategy of shifting responsibilities to the line managers is done with the use of self-service technology, the benefits to the organization may be tangible. Though learning the new system may initially be burdensome to the line managers, if done correctly, they will gain more control over HR administrative issues and paperwork. The line manager can skip the step of explaining to an HR person what needs to be done, and simply do tasks that they may not have been empowered to do in the past.
Though line managers' time is also valuable, it may make sense to delegate HR duties to them. The question is, what does HR need to be involved in? If certain tasks need specialized knowledge, or require handling in a centralized manner, or if HR can create economies of scale by acting as a resource to line managers, then it would make sense for HR to handle things. Ultimately, the most efficient alternative is to allow the least expensive job function to perform the task. It may be an HR person, but it may be a line manager or someone to whom they can delegate tasks. Either solution works.
Having said that, it is probably shortsighted for organizations to expect huge savings simply by pushing additional work into the laps of salaried line managers, since productivity in other areas could be detrimentally affected. To create efficiency, there must be some sort of innovation, whether through self-service technology, outsourcing or streamlining of the process (e.g., steps are eliminated and a form no longer has to go to HR for approval, because line managers are empowered).
SOURCE: Scott Weston, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of the upcoming book HR Excellence: Improving Service Quality and Return on Investment in Human Resources, San Francisco, May 8, 2005.
LEARN MORE: Find out whether you are properly assessing leadership potential. Also, a checklist to determine the responsibilities of line managers in comparison to executives and HR professionals.
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.
Ask a Question
Dear Workforce Newsletter
ASK A QUESTION

 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.

If you have any questions or concerns about Workforce.com, please email customerservice@workforce.com or call 312-676-9900.

The Workforce fax number is 312-676-9901.

Sign up for Dear Workforce e-newsletters!

Comments powered by Disqus