Meaning of HRM and Line management

The aim of this report is to understand the meaning of Human Resource Management and Line management in an organization. The interaction between Human Resource Management and Line management will be discussed along with some examples. There will be an evaluation on the role of Human Resource function in regards to the organization.

Nowadays with globalization and cut throat competitions, Human Resource Management is very important in an organization. Armstrong (2009) defines Human Resource Management as “Human Resource Management is a strategic, integrated, and coherent approach to the employment, development and well being of the people working in the organization.” To be able to have a competitive organization, the structure and level of the organization should be well defined and have a two way communication. Armstrong (2003) cited that the aim of Human resource management is to facilitate organizational effectiveness and capability to accomplish its goals and objectives through working within the organization.

In modern world, the work force is not only regarded as employees but they are the most precious assets of an organization. With globalization, businesses and its employees are affected. In order to meet with challenges, big firms are focusing more on Human Resource Management. It will align organization goal with employees’ skills. Storey (1995) in Beardwell et al (2007) says that “Human resource management is a unique approach to ’employment management’.” It ties to accomplish the competitive advantage through the strategic employment of committed and effective workforce which uses a group of cultural and personnel techniques.

Apple Computer Inc. (1998) listed 17th brand (Interbrand 2010) in the world indicates that “HUMAN RESOURCES safeguards and helps develop Apple’s most valuable asset, its people. In addition to handling counseling, compensation, and benefit programs, the department is responsible for staffing and training to ensure that Apple has the people it needs to reach its goals. Human Resources also provide the resources to assist employees in reaching personal and professions goals.” Becker et al, (1997) mentioned that Human capital strategy provides the guidance on people management. It involves the operation of ‘rigorous recruitment and selection procedures, performance-contingent incentive compensation systems, and management development and training activities linked to the needs of the business.

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Therefore, the role of HR function is to ensure that the company set up the appropriate HR policies, practices and strategies. This will help towards the survival and growth of an organization in respect to changing environment. Ulrich (1997) in Bratton et al (2003) indicate that the basic role of HR managers is to recruit and select people with suitable skills, abilities, knowledge and sufficient experience to fulfill the jobs in the organization.

HR function is also to enables the employee to optimize their capabilities, contribution and recognize their potential which benefits both the organization and employees. Bohlander et al (2009) specify that HR managers also provides planning, testing and carrying out the training and development programs for the employees working within the organization, listening to their complaints and to do trouble-shooting to make them work more efficiently and increase the productivity. Another author, Joynt (1999) mentioned that HR managers provide support and advice to the line managers to build up the skills they need to deal with the ‘informal’ relationship with their staff within the organization.

However, HR managers are not only involved in HR management, HR involvement, HR policies and practices but line managers are essential to execute these functions at the same time. Sims et al (2000) illustrate that line managers role varies from one organization to another or from one department to other. Their jobs may differ according to the goals and structure of the organization and their levels within the organization. Line manager role is to direct the work assigned from HR manager to subordinates and will implement new HR policies and practices. Nowadays in organization, line managers are responsible to carry out traditional task which HR managers used to do. Tasks such as training, motivation, communication, recruitment and performance appraisal is now done by line managers.

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Sims et al (2000) describes that Line managers play an important role in directing the work to the employee working under them by managing and monitoring them to fulfill the goals set by the higher level management. Moreover, line managers are directly related to the subordinates or operating level employees of the organization. Employee’s welfare is important to the success of organization and attainment of organizational goals. According to Delany (2001) in Mullins (2005) successful organizations keep people issues at the forefront of their thinking and at the core of their decision making and planning. The organizations that get the people things right are the organizations likely to be around in the future.

However, it is difficult for line managers to create a working environment where everyone is satisfied as people have different opinion of what is good or bad. In this case, line manager tend to address these issues to upper lever which is HR manager. But sometimes HR managers do not interfere at the start of the problem and leave the task to be solved by line managers. Armstrong (2006) indicates that Line managers will not learn about dealing with people if they are over-dependent on HR managers. So HR managers highlight that they will only provide guidance and support to line managers so that they can achieve their goals and objectives. Moreover, Ulrich (1998) in Armstrong et al (2002) describes that HR manager should support and share responsibility with their line managers at each level within the organization for the success of the organization.

Renwick (2003) in Marchinton et al (2005) illustrates a good example so as to understand better the interaction of HR managers and line managers. In Royal United hospital, due to the involvement of line managers in the HR functions, improvements were noted in the attitudes of employee. This indicates that HR managers and line managers has their own roles and responsibilities but they are dependent on each other for the success of the organization goals. Maxwell et al (2006) demonstrate in a survey that Hilton International hotel is based on the interviews in the form of questionnaires with the line managers and HR managers discovered the involvement of line manager in HR functions such as selection, training and development, employee management and motivation had improved the performance of the Hotel.

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Hutchinson and Purcell (2003) mentioned that a team at Bath university carried out a people and performance research and results are : ‘The role of line managers in bringing policy to life and in leading was one of the most important of all factors in explaining the difference between success and mediocrity in people management.’ Mullins (2007) identify that the line manager could directly see and influence the employees compared with HR manager. Usually conflict arise between HR managers and line managers because they most of the time disagree on policies and practice. Maital (1992) in Ivancevich (2003) indicate that “the different between HR manager and line manager are how much authority employees should have over job design, labor relations, organizational planning, and certain rewards, like bonus and promotions.”

Moreover, line managers are vital in the implementation of HR strategies, but sometimes due to lack of training line managers fail in the implementation. So HR manager have to take corrective measures in having the right line manager at the right place and train them to accomplish their responsibilities accordingly. HR managers should up-skill the line managers by giving appropriate training.

Finally to conclude, for a business to be successful it depends largely on the realization and attainment of Human Resource Management goals. HRM plays a vital role in organization toward employee satisfaction in the organization and this will lead to improved performance and competitiveness of the organization. However, HR managers should have a smooth relationship with the line manager so as to maintain consistency in employees’ performance. Line managers should also achieve its responsibilities given from HR managers. Thus, their objectives and goal can be achieved to have a more competitive and efficient organization.


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