Monday, 25 February 2008

HR and the line

I posted last month on Luke Johnson's criticism of HR (also see this post's comments for Ceridian's follow-up criticism). But HR puts the blame for bad performance management on line management.

XpertHR points to two pieces of research that shows line managers are failing to manage poor performers.

Firstly, Watson Wyatt find that employers across Europe are missing out on potential talent because line managers fare far too preoccupied with top performers and fail to engage poorer performing employees

And secondly, IRS' survey of HR practitioners finds that managers are not properly equipped to manage underperformance. Of course, you might say that this is HR's fault too. As XpertHR notes:

"As managers’ communications skills are so vital to success, you might think they would receive ample relevant training, but this is not necessarily so. Less than a third of the employers in the IRS research train managers to deal with difficult conversations and just 35% teach them coaching skills."

This gap is becoming more important. New CIPD research, described in its Impact update (issue 22), finds that:

"Line manager involvement in people management is both broadening and deepening and that, as a result, they increasingly need bespoke support from HR to provide them with the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes to reward and recognise the contribution of their employees, and to develop and raise their performance.

HR will need to work with senior and front-line managers to ensure that line managers are clear on the role they play in people management, and provide support on how to cope with problems."

This at least suggests the cause of the problem is more complex than Johnson suggests. Perhaps it comes down to a company's leadership, and particularly the CEO?