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All managers are HR managers: An open discussion
Line versus Staff functions,
Coordinative responsibilities of line and staff managers
This is a tutorial lesson. Using a seminar-discussion format, we will explore current
readings and other sources of information about the changing nature of Human Resource
Management (HRM) and, more broadly, the world of work in general. I’ve provided a
tentative list of topics below, but I would like our explorations to be somewhat flexible so
that we can consider new issues as they arise. Additionally, you may have some issues
that you would like to explore in further depth and I would like to maintain some
flexibility in the course to allow us to explore issues in which you are interested.
Here only a few articles from various publications are given below as an example. You
can refer to business newspapers and periodicals for this lesson.
• The transition from personnel to human resource to people management
• HRM line versus staff functions
• Importance of Human Resource Management to Firms
• Role of HRM in the Firm
• Moving toward a Contingent Workforce and
• Others, like Information about Major HRM Activities
Recruiting and Selecting
Training and Development
Rewards and Incentives
HR Planning (e.g., forecasting needs and expected supply)
Career systems (career planning, succession planning, fast track
Performance management systems
Other as relevant
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HR functions: Line versus staff authority
“All managers are, in a sense, HR managers, since they all get involved in
activities like recruiting, interviewing, selecting, and training.”
Yet most firms also have a human resource department with its own human resource
manager. How do the duties of this HR manager and his or her staff relate to "line"
managers' human resource duties?
Before going over to answer this question we should know that HR managers are in most
of the cases even now in this modern world generally staff managers. They are
responsible for advising line managers (like those for production and sales) in areas like
recruiting, hiring, and compensation.
one major company outlined its line supervisors' responsibilities for effective human
resource management under the following general headings:
1. Placing the right person on the right job
2. Starting new employees in the organization (orientation)
3. Training employees for jobs that are new to them
4. Improving the job performance of each person
5. Gaining creative cooperation and developing smooth working relationships 6.
Interpreting the company's policies and procedures
7. Controlling labor costs
8. Developing the abilities of each person
9. Creating and maintaining departmental morale
10. Protecting employees' health and physical condition
In small organizations, line managers may carry out all these personnel duties
unassisted. But as the organization grows, they need the assistance, specialized
knowledge, and advice of a separate human resource staff.
The human resource department provides this specialized assistance. Thus an HR manager
will perform three distinct functions:
1. A line function. An HR manager possesses a line authority over his own
department to accomplish the task and roles assigned to each employees of the
department. And since the majority of the decision is trickled down from the
corporate level, he actually exudes such power. His suggestions also are taken as
2. A coordinative function. An HR manager is also a coordinator of all the decision,
activities in the personnel area. This is referred to as functional control.
Whatever policies, procedures and objectives are set for the HR manager
implements employees in the organisation.
3. Staff functions. This is basically an advisory role played by the manager
whereby he only assists line managers, but that doe not mean his advice shall be
taken finally. It all depends on the discretion of the line manager. Such a
function involves assisting on areas such as, training, evaluating, rewarding,
counseling, promoting, and firing of employees, etc.) many a times HR
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managers also update the line managers as well as top management regarding the
current trends and new methods of solving problems .
Thus we can conclude that there are certain areas, which are solely left on the
Managers prerogative. While there are many areas where a kind of cooperative
responsibility by both the HR manager and the line manager is required. Please refer
to the table for the differentiation between each responsibility
Figure: Selected activities illustrating division of HR responsibility between line and
SUPERVISORS, (LINE) SPECIALISTS,( STAFF)
I Assist job analyst by listing Write job description and job
Recruitment specific duties and specification based on input
and selection responsibilities of the job in fro department supervisor
question explain to HR future Develop personnel plans
staffing needs and sorts of showing promo table
people needed to be hired. employees.
Descry” human requirements” Resources of qualified
of job so HR can develop applications and engage in
selection tests. Interview recruiting activities aimed at
candidates and make final developing a pool of qualified
selection decision. applicants.
Conduct initial serving
interviews and refer feasible
candidates to department
II Orient employees regarding the Prepare training materials and
Training and company and job and instruct orientation documents and
development and train new employees. outlines.
Evaluate and recommend Advise CEO regarding
managers developmental development plan for
activities. managers based on CEO’s
Provide the leadership and stated vision of firm’s future
empowerment that builds needs.
effective work teams. Serve as resource for
Use the firm’s appraisal forms providing information
to appraise employee regarding how to institute and
performance. operate quality improvement
Assess subordinates’ career programs and team building
progress and advise them efforts.
regarding career option. Develop performance
III appraisal tools and maintain
Compensation records of appraisals.
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Conduct job evaluation
Assist HR by providing procedures aimed at
information regarding the determining relative worth of
nature and relative worth of each job in the firm. Conduct
each job to serve as the basic salary surveys to determine
for compensation decisions. how other firms are paying
Don the nature and amounts of the same or similar positions.
incentives to be paid to Serve as a resource in
subordinates. advising line management
Decide on the package of regarding financial incentives
benefits and services the firm and pay plan alternatives.
is to pay.
Develop. In consolation
with line management the
firm’s benefits and
including health care
options and pensions.
IV Establish the day to Diagnose underlying
Labor day climate of mutual causes o f labor
Relations respect and trust discontent with an eye
needed to maintain toward anticipating
healthy labor with the sorts of moral
management relations. and lead to unionization
Consistently apply the efforts.
terms of the labor Train line managers
agreement. regarding the
Ensure that the firm’s interpretation of
grievance process is contract terms and the
functioning in a legal pitfalls to be
manner consistent with avoided during the
the labor agreement union organizing effort
and make final Advise managers
decisions on regarding how to
grievances after handle grievances and
investigating same, assist all parties in
Work with HR in reaching agree
negotiating the regarding grievances.
V Keep the lines of Advise line
Employee communication open management regarding
Security and safety between employees the communication
and managers so techniques that can be
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employees are kept used to encourage
abreast of important upward and downward
company matters and communication.
have a variety of Develop a unfair
vehicles they can use treatment process and
to express concerns train line managers in
and use to express its use.
concerns and gripes. Analyze jobs to develop
Sure employees are safe practice rules and
guaranteed fair advise on design of
treatment as it relates safety apparatus such as
to discipline, machinery guards.
dismissals and job Promptly invest
security. accidents analyze
Continually dire causes, make
employees in the recommendations for
consistent application accident presentation
of safe work habits. and submit necessary
Prepare accident forms to occupational
reports promptly and safety and health
Source:Adapted from Human Resource Management(7th ed.) by Gary Dessler, Prentice Hall India, 1997
In summary, as Dessler remarks, “HR management is an integral part of every manager’s
job. Whether you’re a first line supervisor, manager, or president, whether you’re a
production manager sales manager, office manager, hospital administrator, or HR
manager, getting results through people is the name of the game.”
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The Line Manager-
Determining work and job design
Decision-making on people to be hired
Coaching and developing employees
Promoting health and safety programs
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The HR Professional-
• Aligning HR strategies with business
• Delivering services
• Recruitment and Selection
• Performance management
• Strengthening employee contributions
• Managing change