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Factsheet:

The role of line managers in HR

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in June 2014.

Who are line managers?

Line managers have responsibility for directly managing individual employees or teams. In turn, they report to a higher level of management on the performance and well-being of the employees or teams they manage.

The term ‘front-line managers’ is more specific and normally refers to line managers in the lower layers of the management hierarchy (for example, team leader, supervisor roles) – that is, where they only manage employees who have no supervisory responsibilities, and not other managers. 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
  • allocating work and rotas
  • monitoring work and checking quality
  • dealing with customers/clients
  • measuring operational performance.

The relationship between HR and the line

The relationship between the HR function and line managers has been subject to a number of changes and tensions in recent years. Changes in the delivery of HR have shifted responsibility for many core HR activities, such as recruitment or objective setting, from HR to the line. Furthermore, the trend towards individualisation of the employment relationship has placed new burdens and opportunities in the hands of line managers.

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  • Who are line managers?
  • The role of line managers in implementing HR processes
  • Supporting line managers
  • CIPD viewpoint
  • References
  • Further reading

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