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
- checking quality
- 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.