I have heard line mangers referring most if not all of the people issues to the person designated as the Human Resources Manager. If this is how your people are managed in your organisation you have a long way to go.
If your organisation is in the situation highlighted above you have probably experienced an upsurge in labour disputes, grievances and sometimes poor performance. You may also be experiencing low employee engagement or low morale. Until you empower your line managers to take charge of your human resources you will experience these and many other people related problems.
The first solution to the above problems is to train every manager and every supervisor in “hands on” human resources management. For example the line managers must be empowered to recommend remuneration for their subordinates within policy limits. In most organisations the current situation is that salary adjustments come from the human resources department with very little input from the line manager concerned.
Employees now believe that the human resources department pays them and not their line manager. This has drastically limited the amount of influence managers have over their subordinates and this affects performance. Managers in retaliation have deliberately ignored remuneration related concerns raised by subordinates and blame human resources in the processes. Some of the people who have left your organisation could have stayed had the line managers played their human resources role.
Line managers have also in some instances deliberately mishandled disciplinary and grievance issues thereby impacting on productivity and in some instances resulting in huge financial losses to the organisation. The best way to deal with disciplinary and grievance issues is to make sure the performance of managers is assessed on the number of disciplinary or grievance issues mishandled. This will force them to seek expert advice whenever they encounter such problems.
Retention is another area where line managers should play their human resources role. The reality in most cases is employees run away from managers when they leave organisations. They however always say they have found “greener pastures” which is a convenient reason to give because they do not want to harm relationships. Line managers must take employee problems and make them their own. They should seek solutions to employee concerns and give feedback to employees timeously.
Performance management is one area that could significantly contribute to productivity if every line manager could play their human resources role. Managers are notoriously known for competing for attention with employees there by harming relationships with employees. When things go right they take all the glory from the employee. When things go wrong it is always employees who are wrong. Good managers give credit to employees when good things happen and take all the blame when performance targets are not met. This is not condoning poor performance. Poor performance must be dealt with in private.
Managers must also remember that when there is no consequence to performance productivity will not increase. What happens when someone fails to meet agreed targets? What happens when someone meets agreed targets? Good performance must be recognized and poor performance must be dealt with. The consequence of poor performance must be dealt with immediately and it must be certain in the mind of the employee that corrective measures will be taken when agreed targets are not met. When the consequences are futuristic and in most cases uncertain like in the cases of bonuses very little or no productivity gains will be recorded.
Take a real life example: People know that AIDS kills but they still get infected because the consequences are futuristic and uncertain because you might die of other things not necessarily AIDS. If AIDS killed people on the spot there will be very few infections. It is important to remember that people change their behavior based on what happens to them when they engage in that behavior. This is simple psychology that line managers have failed to utilize. Some organisations have spent a fortune paying bonuses that have not added a single point to the company’s well-being and productivity but they continue doing it.
The other area of concern is that generally most line managers have poor or zero people management skills. They experiment with people as if they are handling machines. People have emotions and can’t be handled with the same way as machines. They believe being tough is equivalent to being a good manager. Look around in your organisation some of the known toughest managers are heading some of the worst performing sections in your organisation. Manager’s need to understand that if threats worked there would be no non- performers. Threats work temporarily but cannot sustain performance. Collaboration between managers and subordinates can sustain performance.
My prediction is that organisations could record massive productivity gains if they deal with some of the issues raised above.
Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant – Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/ Phone 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com