Allow Managers to Manage, by changing the role of HR

Achievements –

  • Changed the HR role to be support for the manager, rather than the lead on managing people.

Challenge / objectives –

  • As is still surprisingly common, HR policies had been set up so that HR had to be involved in every disciplinary or grievance meeting and every interview.  HR also led the appraisal and induction processes and were held accountable if those were not completed; they spent a significant amount of time reporting on how many had been completed and chasing managers to do their part.  (No one was looking at the quality of the appraisals or probation reviews.)
  • Managers didn’t ‘own’ the management of their people; if a disciplinary or capability hearing were needed, they just handed it over to HR to decide on a penalty and it was not the manager’s decision. 
  • Poor managers hid behind HR and blamed HR for unpopular decisions.  Good managers felt that they were not being allowed to use their own judgment and manage as they wished.

Work carried out –

  • I rewrote most of the HR policies so that managers were making the decisions and they would go to HR for specialist support when they needed to.
  • I simplified policies at the same time and discarded those that were not necessary.
  • I encouraged the management team to work on the basis that most people come to work to do a good job and they can be trusted; policies do not need to cover every possible eventuality in detail.
  • Managers were encouraged to get to know employees and talk to them often, and to deal with issues early as soon s they arose.
  • If formal meetings were needed, managers were given scripts/checklists and told they could phone HR when they needed.

Results –

  • Managers are now taking responsibility for managing their people; they deal with issues earlier, so as to avoid grievances and formal disciplinaries.  The number of formal hearings has reduced and the turnover rate has also gone down since managers are seen to deal with issues fairly and they have gained respect as a result.