Who are line managers? Line managers are those managers to whom individual employees or teams directly report and who have responsibility to a higher level of management for those employees or teams. The term ‘front-line managers’ is rather more specific and normally refers to line managers in the lower layers of the management hierarchy – that is, where the employees who report to them do not themselves have any managerial or supervisory responsibility. Front-line managers are often promoted from within and are unlikely to have formal management education. Typically the management responsibilities carried out by line managers (particularly front-line managers) might include: day-to-day people management
managing operational costs
providing technical expertise
organisation of work allocation and rotas
monitoring work processes
dealing with customers/clients
measuring operational performance.
As examined in detail below, line managers in many organisations also carry out activities that have traditionally fallen within the remit of HR such as providing coaching and guidance, undertaking performance appraisals and dealing with discipline and grievances. They also often carry out tasks such as recruitment and selection or pastoral care in conjunction with HR. The role of line managers in implementing HR processes Relationship between HR and the lineThe relationship between the HR function and line managers has been subject to a number of changes and tensions in recent years. The trend towards individualisation of the employment relationship has placed new burdens and opportunities in the hands of line managers. An obvious example is that, with collective pay-setting provisions giving way to individual performance-related pay awards in many organisations, the role of each employee’s line manager has become increasingly influential in determining individual pay increases. More information on the individualisation of pay can be found in our factsheet on performance-related pay. Go to our factsheet on performance-related pay
Devolving responsibility down the lineThe changing role of the line manager has been assessed in detail as part of the people and performance research programme carried out for the CIPD by a team at Bath University1. The initial research found that front-line managers play a pivotal role in terms of implementing and enacting HR policies and practices. Where employees feel positive about their relationship with their front line managers, moreover, they are more likely to have higher levels of job satisfaction, commitment and loyalty – which are in turn associated with higher levels of performance or discretionary behaviour. Discretionary behaviour is defined as that which goes beyond the requirements of the job to give the extra performance that can boost ‘the bottom line’ (or profit levels). Our subsequent work with Bath University explores in detail the role that line managers play in people management in two key areas: reward, and learning and development. View Rewarding work: the vital role of line managers
View Learning and the line: the role of line managers in training, learning and development Our practical tool addresses the role of line managers in workplace coaching. Go to Coaching at the sharp end: the role of line managers in coaching at work Line managers and employee engagementThe increasing emphasis on employee engagement in the modern workplace means that this aspect of the line manager’s role in people management can be particularly influential. The latest findings in this area can be found in the engagement research conducted on our behalf by the Kingston-based Employee Engagement Consortium. Go to the Creating an engaged workforce report
As pointed out in this report, line managers can have a crucial impact on engagement as they act as the interface between the organisation and its workforce. It is therefore especially...
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