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People management for managerial success

People management for managerial success
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In the corporate world there has been a perennial question: “Who should own people management?” During the early days, it was felt that HR should be...

In the corporate world there has been a perennial question: “Who should own people management?” During the early days, it was felt that HR should be the custodian of all workforce-related issues. But of late, the trend has been that line managers or business managers must take care of most of the people management while HR department will focus more on designing the systems and processes besides offering any specialised technical help in HR areas.

This argument is not very easy to sell to line managers because they feel it is the HR department’s job to take care of the workforce’s issues as they focus on their own business deliverables. To analyse this argument, let us see some prominent people-related issues and understand how a business or line manager can play a role.

Hiring: It all starts with assessing what kinds of skill sets are required, how many people are required and when they will be needed. Owing to their familiarity with the job to be performed, business managers are the right people to define the skill sets and job role. HR possibly can use some of the manpower planning models to assess how many are required and when they are needed.

The next important step is to source such candidates, which can be taken care primarily by the HR. After that, the interview and selection are primarily the responsibility of line managers. HR can take care of releasing the offer/appointment letters in complete compliance to prevailing law.

Induction or On boarding: Logically, once the candidate joins he/she needs to be inducted properly and oriented towards organisational functioning. Here again there is shared responsibility. The HR department usually takes care of induction at organisational level while line managers are expected to orient the new employee towards internal process and functioning of the department.

Many managers tend to believe that the induction programme conducted by the HR department would suffice; but it doesn’t. It is very important for managers to ensure proper assimilation of all work practices and integrate with other colleagues to the new employee. Failing to do so will only prolong the settling time to the new employee.

Goal Setting and Role Clarity: Who is better positioned than the immediate line manager to discuss and spruce up the performance goals and offer role clarity to the new employee or even existing employees? Expecting this role to be performed by the HR team is unrealistic because they will not know the goals and expectations of the technical department. Only a manager will be able to perform this role, while the HR team can assist in proper articulation of the goals and documentation for future reference. HR team will also integrate these steps with other systems like performance assessment, rewards and so on.

But in practice, we often come across managers who tend to neglect this area of goal setting. Not attending to this task will only create ambiguity to the employees and will not help them perform as per the expectations.

Training and Development: Another area of focus for managers is the development of their team members. Often, we see managers sending their team members for some training programmes and they assume that they have taken care of development. It is rather an oversimplified version of development. Good managers not only focus on training their team members to perform better but also focus on preparing them for higher roles.

In this context, it is essential for managers to understand the breadth of development tools. Attending a training programme alone is not a development channel; they are many others like on-the-job training, coaching etc. The HR team can facilitate the development process by training, creating awareness among managers, etc

Performance appraisal and feedback: Another vital people responsibility to line managers is their continuous feedback to team members and helping them understand where they stand with regard to their goal achievement. The HR team is not equipped to handle the feedback sessions as they are not privy to everyday job behaviour. Therefore, only line managers can perform this role.

If you analyse each management function, it is evident that managers have a great onus while the HR department truly plays a supportive and expert role in setting systems. Those who wish to grow as successful managers must not only focus on their domain expertise but also learn the art of managing people.

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