The Tension Between Managers and HR
Posted by Jessica Miller-Merrell
There is a long and sometimes rigid history of differences between recruiters and managers over the best practices for hiring and retaining employees. This disconnect between managers and recruiters usually stems from not understanding what each other’s roles are when it comes to hiring, firing, performance reviews, and everything else involving the personnel file of an employee. In order to work together as a team, both sides must understand where they each fit as pieces of the bigger puzzle. This not only means that managers and HR should understand what functions they are each responsible for, it also means that companies must make clarifying the division of duties a priority.
When should a manager be involved in HR-related activities?
Most HR departments of smaller companies have an HR department of one, whereas a Fortune 500 company might have an entire department filled with HR practitioners who handle every aspect of HR for the business. The size of your company and current HR department is a major indicator of the type of involvement a manager should have when dealing with the entire candidate/staff lifecycle.
Companies who have an “HR Department of One” will have managers who are much more involved, compared to companies with a robust and fully-staffed HR department. In the first scenario, the manager will be more involved in sorting through resumes and interviewing candidates. He or she will work closely with the HR staffer on employee-related administrative tasks, and will hear employee concerns as much as a fully staffed HR department would.
Companies with a robust and fully staffed HR department will need less manager oversight in the entire process. Generally, the manager is the one who selects the candidates from those presented by HR and gives the final interviews, but for the most part he or she is usually focused on other parts of the business and not necessarily HR. Problems that persist in a manager’s department will most likely be forwarded to the HR department to handle, since HR serves as a neutral party between employees and their supervisors.
Should managers be more involved in HR activities?
In order to better understand how a company operates, those who are being vetted for managerial positions are sometimes given the opportunity to learn different functions of the business, including human resources. This practice is aimed at helping managers understand how the different departments of the company work together. Since HR deals with a lot of legal and ethical issues having to do with personnel, it can be an important area for managers to learn about.
However, when it comes to whether managers should actually be involved in the day-to-day functions of human resources as a rule, the answer is no. It’s important to keep a clear line of separation between business operations and the sometimes sensitive area of personnel issues.
The human resources field is complex and requires attention to individual rights and ethical personnel practices. With smaller companies, it’s harder to keep those lines of division in force, because managers must perform some important HR functions in order for the company to stay afloat. But as your company grows, it’s critical to have a standalone and separate HR department that assists employees and management in whatever issues may arise.
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Jessica is listed as the 2nd most influential recruiter online and as the 8th most powerful woman on Twitter. She is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, a how-to business guide for Twitter users. She also writes for a number of leading publications, including Fortune, HR Magazine, SmartBrief, and HR Executive Magazine.