How HR departments can implement effective practices by working with other managers Human Resources executives who work in silos cannot implement effective HR practices. ESADE Associate Professor Jordi Trullén has discovered that HR departments aspiring to be more effective need to work closely with other line managers in the company -- that is, the executives who head revenue-generating departments and directly manage other employees. "Having high-quality human resource practices in place does not ensure high performance. HR practices that are not effectively implemented may be of little help, no matter how well they address the needs of the organization and its employees," warns Prof. Trullén in a paper published in the Human Resource Management Journal. The key to ensuring high performance is for HR departments to work closely with line managers. These executives play a key role in helping HR implement effective practices by acting as 'interpreters' of human resource practices for employees. They are able to show how HR practices fit within their work units, and in doing so they are also able to influence employees' responses to these practices. Line managers' abilities and motivation The study shows that line managers' ability to carry out their duties is crucial for implementing effective HR policies. "If line managers lack the necessary competences, the outcome will inevitably be poor," says Prof. Trullén. The abilities line managers need in order to successfully help HR departments may vary from practice to practice. For example, these abilities may be related to knowledge about relevant legislation, trade union relationships, people management skills or procedures on how to use HR practices. But how can HR departments motivate line managers to help them in this task? Although taking on HR duties can be rewarding for line managers - it allows them to focus on strategic issues besides business targets - the study warns that it is also a source of additional work and challenges. As a consequence, line managers may prioritize operational tasks and pay little attention to the proper implementation of HR practices. 3 strategies to improve HR effectiveness "For line managers to be committed to helping, the Human Resources department must facilitate initiatives that stimulate line managers' desire and willingness to effectively perform their HR implementation duties," says Prof. Trullén. The findings reveal 3 major strategies that HR professionals can put in place to help line managers develop their abilities to become effective HR implementers. 1. Ability-enhancing initiatives The Human Resources department needs to provide line managers with ability-enhancing initiatives through actions such as HR training, HR support materials and HR support services like an open-door policy, as well as the use of in-the-field HR specialists. 2. Motivation-enhancing initiatives HR specialists also need to promote initiatives that enhance a line manager's motivation to contribute. Framing HR policies in appealing ways and actively involving line managers in strategic decisions are among the initiatives that can enhance line managers' ability to implement effective HR practices. In the development of HR policies, the researchers show that recognizing line managers' implementation efforts is also an asset. 3. Opportunity-enhancing initiatives For line managers to be effective, HR departments may also benefit from hiring consultants, seeking CEO support for practices and exploiting windows of opportunity. "We show that hiring consultants gives legitimacy to HR implementation in the eyes of employees, thus facilitating implementation. We have also observed that another powerful means of generating a favorable implementation scenario is when HR managers take the initiative to seek the CEO's active support," says Prof. Trullén. An additional way in which HR departments can make line managers more effective is by exploiting windows of opportunity -- that is, moments when organizational or outside events create favorable conditions for the introduction of HR practices. One last piece of advice: Pay more attention to line managers' selection The findings also demonstrate that for line managers to be effective, their selection process needs to be taken very seriously. "When choosing line managers, the HR department needs to select those who have management skills and are strategically qualified to take on this joint task with HR."

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3 strategies to make Human Resources departments more effective

01/2018

How HR departments can implement effective practices by working with other managers


Human Resources executives who work in silos cannot implement effective HR practices. ESADE Associate Professor Jordi Trullén has discovered that HR departments aspiring to be more effective need to work closely with other line managers in the company -- that is, the executives who head revenue-generating departments and directly manage other employees.


"Having high-quality human resource practices in place does not ensure high performance. HR practices that are not effectively implemented may be of little help, no matter how well they address the needs of the organization and its employees," warns Prof. Trullén in a paper published in the Human Resource Management Journal.


The key to ensuring high performance is for HR departments to work closely with line managers. These executives play a key role in helping HR implement effective practices by acting as 'interpreters' of human resource practices for employees. They are able to show how HR practices fit within their work units, and in doing so they are also able to influence employees' responses to these practices.


Line managers' abilities and motivation


The study shows that line managers' ability to carry out their duties is crucial for implementing effective HR policies. "If line managers lack the necessary competences, the outcome will inevitably be poor," says Prof. Trullén.


The abilities line managers need in order to successfully help HR departments may vary from practice to practice. For example, these abilities may be related to knowledge about relevant legislation, trade union relationships, people management skills or procedures on how to use HR practices.


But how can HR departments motivate line managers to help them in this task? Although taking on HR duties can be rewarding for line managers - it allows them to focus on strategic issues besides business targets - the study warns that it is also a source of additional work and challenges. As a consequence, line managers may prioritize operational tasks and pay little attention to the proper implementation of HR practices.


3 strategies to improve HR effectiveness


"For line managers to be committed to helping, the Human Resources department must facilitate initiatives that stimulate line managers' desire and willingness to effectively perform their HR implementation duties," says Prof. Trullén.


The findings reveal 3 major strategies that HR professionals can put in place to help line managers develop their abilities to become effective HR implementers.



1. Ability-enhancing initiatives


The Human Resources department needs to provide line managers with ability-enhancing initiatives through actions such as HR training, HR support materials and HR support services like an open-door policy, as well as the use of in-the-field HR specialists.


2. Motivation-enhancing initiatives


HR specialists also need to promote initiatives that enhance a line manager's motivation to contribute. Framing HR policies in appealing ways and actively involving line managers in strategic decisions are among the initiatives that can enhance line managers' ability to implement effective HR practices.


In the development of HR policies, the researchers show that recognizing line managers' implementation efforts is also an asset.


3. Opportunity-enhancing initiatives


For line managers to be effective, HR departments may also benefit from hiring consultants, seeking CEO support for practices and exploiting windows of opportunity.


"We show that hiring consultants gives legitimacy to HR implementation in the eyes of employees, thus facilitating implementation. We have also observed that another powerful means of generating a favorable implementation scenario is when HR managers take the initiative to seek the CEO's active support," says Prof. Trullén.


An additional way in which HR departments can make line managers more effective is by exploiting windows of opportunity -- that is, moments when organizational or outside events create favorable conditions for the introduction of HR practices.


One last piece of advice: Pay more attention to line managers' selection


The findings also demonstrate that for line managers to be effective, their selection process needs to be taken very seriously. "When choosing line managers, the HR department needs to select those who have management skills and are strategically qualified to take on this joint task with HR."

More Knowledge
The HR department's contribution to line managers' effective implementation of HR practices
Trullén Fernández, Jordi; Stirpe, Luigi; Bonache Pérez, Jaime Alfonso; Valverde , Mireia
Human Resource Management Journal
Vol. 26, nº 4, 11/2016, p. 449 - 470
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