HR needs to “hug and not squeeze” line managers

HR needs to “hug and not squeeze” line managers

Managers need a metaphorical “hug and not squeeze” according to a new report from the Institute of Employment Studies (IES).

According to the report, line managers are under increased work-related pressure from a number of directions including from those who directly report to them who may need support, coaching or performance monitoring; and from senior managers who expect them to implement policies, set targets and maintain organisational standards.

In addition to this, line managers are taking an increased role in the implementation of HR practices such as performance management and learning and development, alongside  organisational tasks like implementing disciplinary or grievance procedures and dealing with pressures from external clients. 

Report author Dr Zofia Bajorek says it is not just a training issue: “There is … an increased bandwidth of tasks and this reduction in both time and support to complete them can lead to managers feeling ‘dumped upon’. 

“As a quick fix, line managers may just complete measurable outcomes, letting the more complex and time consuming ‘people management’ duties fall to the wayside.” 

The IES research considers that equipping line managers with the skills to cope with their stress and workload is important for improving the productivity and wellbeing of the employees who report to them.

Dr Bajorek said: “Organisations need to recognise that ‘good line management’ matters – and how employees are managed is crucial to organisational success.

“More thought may need to be given into how line managers are recruited or promoted (taking into account both personal and technical competencies); employers need to be very clear about good line management skills, what good behaviour in the organisation should look like, and provide appropriate support to managers to obtain these.”

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