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Strategic Human Resources -the line manager’s role


The Human Resources function has undergone a tremendous evolution over the years from merely offering administrative support to the organisation to being a partner.

Paul Nyausaru

Traditionally, the Human Resource function focused on functional activities such as human resource planning, job analysis, recruitment and selection, maintaining employee relations, performance appraisals, compensation management, and training and development.

It also focused on establishing policies, procedures, contracts and guidelines, and attempted to drive employee performance and achieve organisational goals by making employees adhere to such carefully crafted documents.

As in the case of recruitment and selection, it strictly followed laid-down norms such as undertaking a job analysis first, advertising the vacancy based on the job specifications and job requirements, collecting resumes, conducting written tests, interviews and any other selection method, as well as creating a rank list based on the published selection criteria.

Over the years, there has been a realisation that the Human Resource function plays a critical role in ensuring that the organisation’s strategy is achieved. Let us the look at how strategic human resources can impact positively on the organisation.

Strategic Human Resources is about systematically linking people with the organisation; that is, it is about the integration of Human Resources strategies into corporate strategies.

According to Schuler 1992, HR strategies are simply plans and programmes that address and solve fundamental strategic issues related to the management of human resources in an organisation.

Its focus is on alignment of the organisation’s HR practices, policies and programmes with corporate and strategic business unit plans. Strategic Human Resources thus links corporate strategy and Human Resources management, and emphasises the integration of human resources with the business and its environment.

The integration between human resources management and business strategy contributes to effective management of human resources, improvement in organisational performance and the success of the organisation.

It can also help the organisation to achieve competitive advantage by creating unique human resources management systems that cannot be imitated by others.

Realising the shift in the way HR should function, it is imperative that all involved parties embrace the noble change. Line managers need to realise that they now have a bigger part to play in managing people issues.

If HR issues are not handled properly by the line manager, they usually cost the organisation when being resolved through systems that are outside the organisation. For instance, an industrial relations dispute that is not properly handled by the line manager may cost the organisation in huge damages at the Labour Court.

It is therefore critical for the HR Manager to staff and develop line managers in all the critical areas of HR so that they are able to handle these issues at their level. This leaves the HR Manager with ample time to play his/her advisory role to the line managers and Senior Management.

Paul Nyausaru is a Training & Development Practitioner. You can contact him on email
pnyausaru@yahoo.co.uk pnyausaru@gmail.com . Views contained in this article are personal.

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