The world of Human Resource management is fast changing. On one hand, there is an increasing demand for HR to be a strategic business partner. On the other, there is also a growing recognition that some basic HR functions are better devolved to line managers.

Things to do to strengthen the partnership between HR and the line:

Ensure people management competencies.

Some organizations make the mistake of selecting and promoting managers simply because they are good performers or deliver results. However, good performers do not necessarily make good managers. Thus, it would help to consider people management skills in selecting managers. Beyond selection, it is also essential that HR provide line managers with the training for them to perform HR related tasks. In other organizations, people management skills are part of their Management Development Program. Another strategy to getting managers to embrace their role in people management is to make their jobs easier by providing them job aids, software, manuals and information portals.

Make line managers accountable for people management.
Organization that are truly serious about devolving the HR function need to make line managers accountable for people management. People management is part of managers key result areas. Others even go a step further by pegging variable pay on people management metrics. It is also important to find champions in top management who can be models of a people oriented manager. One way of ensuring that HR systems and policies are understood and supported by managers is by involving them in the design process.

Build credibility of HR
However, if we want managers to partner with us, HR need to first build credibility by delivering basics flawlessly. Unclear policies will be open to misinterpretation or abuse. Users will likely circumvent systems when the do not see the logic behind them. In addition, delivering flawlessly often entails making systems as efficient as possible. More organizations are moving to automating HR systems and processes to ensure efficiency. Beyond delivering the basics, a key to becoming a strategic partner is the ability of HR to understand the business and its ability to align itself to the organization directions.

Reorient and re-educate HR group
Devolution can be threatening to HR practitioners because of the loss of control. On the other hand, some HR practitioners may not have the capability to evolve. Organizations need to addresses these sources of resistance by ensuring the HR staff are reoriented and provided the training needed for them to upgrade their competencies. Partnering for human resources will undoubtedly require much effort from both HR practitioners and line managers. Yet, there is no escaping this reality. Managers can no longer afford not to know how to properly manage their people. HR practitioners cannot take sole responsibility for people who are not under their direct supervision.

Great organization are those who are able to effectively harness their talents and it will take great partnership between HR and line to make this happen.


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