Improving the business manager’s HR capability is critical to the future success of HR

Is it time to stop talking and start doing when it comes to letting the business do HR?
I’ve been working with clients to improve HR service provision for over 15 years, in that time we spend 99% of the time talking about process standardisation, efficiency savings, re-structuring and then, as is customary, make a passing reference to how we really must increase the people management skills in the line. Maybe now is the time to figure this one out.

Why coach managers to be better partners of HR and how can we do this?

The role of the manager in a business will vary according to organisation size, type and culture. Some organisations expect the manager to be self-sufficient, others are handheld through HR processes; some see the value, others don’t; some have large teams to manage and motivate, others have a small team; some are based with their teams, others are not and so I could go on. Suffice to say, we cannot consider all managers to be the same they have different needs, capability and motivations. Therefore HR must be flexible in terms of how we work with them and recognise any capability building has to be appropriate to the individual or area of the business.

Why invest time in building their capability?

We need to invest time and effort to help our business managers to be better HR partners. They are often the first point of contact for most employees in discussing an HR matter. They are critical to championing change and getting the buy-in and support whilst sense checking what will work and knowing what won’t.  Undertaking the upfront transactional activity correctly frees up HR to do the strategic thinking. Proactively seeking answers to their own question and answering questions from their teams  enables them to be an advocate for HR and for the business. It also reduces the people risk implications of non-compliance and improves the quality of information being captured at source.

 Also, by understanding more about HR and building their capability, it helps in turn, for them to be better customers. They can articulate the service provision they do need from HR; the art of the possible.Building  manager’s capability gives them more time to do their job which in turn drives business performance. After all once HR have a clear ‘mandate’ they are more likely to be able to deliver successfully.

How to do this?

To my mind there are a couple of changes and activities that will really improve what HR asks of the business manager. 

  • Let managers know simply and clearly what is expected of them and show them what good looks like. 
  • Build their skills and knowledge easily and quickly through simple to use toolkits, where possible incorporating it in to learning already there. 
  • Show them the value. Let them know what is in it for them such as, more time to focus on their role, the ability to play a more active role in determining the service provision they want, better access to information and credibility amongst their peers.

In order to truly achieve the art of the possible, in the future we will need our business managers to be more capable and to be true partners to HR. It will help HR to maintain business relationships and no longer  feel detached from the business, provide a more value-adding service and allow the business manager to feel more informed, to be a better qualified decision maker and to act as a champion of change.