The Tensions Between Line Mangers and Human Resources Practitioners in Modern Organisations

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Human Resources Management

The Tensions between Line Mangers and Human Resources Practitioners in Modern Organisations

17th January 2012

The Tensions between Line Mangers and Human Resources Practitioners in Modern Organisations

Human resources management is a business department and function that has the strategic approach to the management of the company’s employees. Armstrong (2006, p.3) defines HRM as ‘a strategic and coherent approach to the management of an organisation’s most valuable assets – the people working there who individually and collectively contribute to the achievement of it objectives.’ The HR business function provides an organisation with administrative support regarding the laws and legislation of employment. The HR function take on many roles and aid the overall management of the business, such as playing an active part in recruitment and selection, disciplinaries, absence monitoring, training and development and legislation changes to name just a few.

According to Thomson (2002, p.11) ‘since the 1980’s it has been the growth of Human Resources Management within many business industries’ it is believed that the HRM function has taken over from the personnel management functions that organisations used to manage their businesses. Personnel management is perceived to be more administrative, dealing with payroll, complying with employment law, and handling related tasks. HR is perceived to be focused on managing a workforce as one of the primary resources that contributes to the success of an organisation. HR in the modern business environment manages all the above functions and more. It is a fair assumption to make that Human resources management has now superseded personnel management. It is apparent that in many organisations conflict can arise between HR and line managers. Line managers may often feel that HR are adding restrictions to how they manage the business and also the staff, it is believed that managers feel that HR add extra time wasting duties to their work. According the HR Magazine (2010), using data gather from Roffery Park an education institute based in West Sussex ‘low middle managers' relationship with the HR department had become, when, of the 800 respondents to Roffey Park's 2009 Management Agenda, 45% of middle managers believed HR lacked credibility and less than a quarter (24%) thought HR actually added value. A third at this level thought HR had no influence at all, but such was HR's meddling in their business that middle managers rated their engagement at work far lower than any other grade of manager above or below them’. From this it is clear to see that line managers and HR do not necessarily have a positive working relationship within all businesses. The HR Magazine go on to add that the HR practitioners that they asked how they viewed the HR function had a different view of the effectiveness of their role adding that ‘Only 15% of HR professionals thought HR failed to support managers, whereas 33% of managers thought HR didn't support them. 90% of HR professionals thought they added value to the business; 69% of middle managers thought this. 78% of HR practitioners thought HR was credible; 57% of middle management thought this. 73% of HR practitioners disagreed that they produce too many initiatives; 69% of line managers disagreed with this.’ It is clear to see that there is a difference of opinion between line managers and HR and this can cause conflict between both management functions ultimately having a detrimental affect on the employees and the business itself.

Whilst conducting necessary research for this essay to explain the tensions which may exist between line managers and HR practitioners in modern organisations, and also to critically evaluate how effective HR practitioners are in convincing organisations of the value of their role it has been clear to see that there are certain aspects and task conducted by a business where HR and...
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