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Monday, February 08, 2010

Strengthening Partnership Between HR and Line Managers

Some months ago, I helped facilitate a focus group discussion for a government agency to gather inputs on what the line managers expect from the HR Department if it is to play a strategic partner role. In the process, the participants also learned that the partnership can only work if they participate well in HR's activities. One of the managers approached me saying this; "If line managers like me and HR are to work as partners, we better start understanding what the work entails because at this point we hardly do. You see we didn't get any training." It made sense. It was obvious not just in that government agency but in many other organizations.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I facilitated two batches of "Introduction to HR Management for Line Managers Workshop. " We did it for a printing company in Cavite. HR attended too not just to support the line managers but to catch a few tips in HR Management themselves. It was a fulfilling experience for me. I hope the same is true for the participants.

The first part of the day was spent discussing the 4 major roles of HR as strategic partner, change agent, administrative expert and employee champion as presented by David Ulrich in his book "Human Resource Champions."

The participants realized how ineffective HR can get whenever the line managers fail to do their part in the partnership. What is even more worth noting is that when HR fails, it's the line managers who feel the pain.

The discussion paved the way for a more interesting discussions, workshops and brainstorming exercises on how HR and the line can work effectively together in recruiting, training, performance management, career and succession management and maintaining discipline in the workplace among others. The line managers learned some techniques in screening and interviewing applicants. The HR staff learned that they need a documented Recruitment strategy and methodology and then train line managers on how to use them. The line managers learned that they have an important role to play in training and development and performance management. I also threw in some quick but very useful technique on coaching using the GROW Model as part of Performance Management. The participants tried their hands at crafting a career path for their employees and then clarified their role in creating, implementing and championing company policies. They learned that the integrity and credibility of these policies depend on their ability to model the way in following and seeing to it that everyone is compliant.

Just before the workshop ended, the participants put together a forward agenda to make sure that whatever they learned in the workshop will be applied at work.

With top management support and an HR Department that is keen on playing a more relevant role as a strategic partner to the line, I can't see how things will not become better.

If you wish to explore how we can help you do the same for your organization, please do not hesitate to let us know.


  1. This is nice very informative blog post,

  2. I agree. Line managers do need to know and fully execute their HR roles for the company to work to its fullest potential. Too often Line Managers shun roles in which they delegate to HR prematurely because of discomfort or lack of training (Ex: disciplinary cases, recruitment). What they don't immediately realize that since that are the experts of their department, they are in the best position to make critical decisions and take responsibility for his/her personnel.
    When the Line managers actively fulfill their HR roles, HR is able to better exercise their roles as strategic partners, cooking up projects for the welfare of the employees in general.

  3. There's really a need to train the line managers because you'll be spared of 'HAND HOLDING' and 'SPOON FEEDING'.

  4. Yes a training is needed.

  5. This is a good common sense Blog. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.


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