Sage Advice UK

Top 10 tips for HR to build effective relationships with line managers

We all know that the HR function has transformed over the past decade. It is no longer administrative but specialist and strategic. However this does mean that HR are relying on line managers to ensure employees are motivated, productive, competent and fully engaged with corporate goals. Therefore it is vital that these two functions understand each other and work together but we know this can be challenging.

So how can HR build effective relationships with line managers to ensure they are working in partnership?

Top 10 tips to building effective relationships with line managers

1. Coaching and development

Line managers need both skills and development to execute HR responsibilities. Make sure the necessary coaching and development is in place. This will give them confidence and mean they will be happier with the extra responsibilities.

2. Be honest

If you are introducing a new strategy or policy and it will involve a lot of line managers’ time and resources, be honest with them and ask them how they feel about it. Involving them like this will automatically make them more engaged and cooperative.

3. Timing of communications

When you are trying to communicate with any audience, timing is vital. Don’t try to communicate with your line managers during the busiest time for the business because it is unlikely you will be heard. Pick your moments to communicate carefully.

4. Listen and respect

It is likely that they will have different views and attitudes to certain things but this does not mean that they are less important. In order to build an effective relationship you need to listen and respect their views and take on board what they say.

5. Equip them with the right tools

If you are relying on line managers to manage many of the day-to-day duties of people management ensure that you give them the tools and equipment to make this as easy as possible. Self-service technology can significantly reduce the administration and save line managers valuable time.

6. Support

Make sure the HR department is there to support line managers when needed and make sure line managers know HR is there to support them!

7. Personal performance objectives

Make people management responsibilities part of personal performance objectives as this demonstrates corporate sponsorship of HR activities as being crucial to the business.

8. Make HR’s role and contribution clear

Explain the role of HR as a strategic partner and showcase the benefits that it can bring to the business. Provide examples of how HR can add value to the business on a strategic level now that it has moved away from tactical activities.

9. Recognise them as strategic partners of HR

Line managers should be recognised as strategic partners of HR and given recognition and reward for their responsibilities

10. Give praise

If line managers have implemented a new policy successfully, engaged employees effectively, or are just are just doing a good job, make sure you tell them!

What would you add to the list?