According to CIDP definition, line managers are a manager who are responsible for an employee or work to a higher level of management. Generally, their management responsibilities would include people management, monitoring work process and etc (CIPD, 2010). Clearly, it generally be said that line managers are closest to employees and customers and occupy a key role in the general management job of managing people. Guest and Conway’s study (2004) showed that supervisory leadership was the strongest factor associated to organisation commitment.
In other words the relationship between employees and FLMs is important in influencing the employee’s perspectives of the support received. Purcell et al (2007) suggest that the employee’s judgement of their FLM leadership behaviour was directed related, where positive, to higher levels of commitment and to better aspects of job experience. Indeed, Winkler said (ND) that if an employee feels supported by their line manager, they will feel engaged with and committed to their organisation. Consequently, this will improve attendance, reduce staff turnover and ensure that employees are willing to ‘go that extra mil’.
Furthermore, in the UK WERS (1998) notes that in the handling of employee relations issues, line managers outnumber employee relations specialists at British workplace. MacNeil (2003) reveals that line managers may play a role in capturing employee’s tacit knowledge, which may be able to be transferred in to specific organisational competencies. For example, Lazenby’s research found that line manager behaviour has a significant impact on employee commitment, which has an impact on customer commitment, which has an impact on business performance (cited Purcell, 2003).
In addition, some workers mention line incapability in HR as a significant and specific fact contributing to explaining why they left their old jobs (Taylor, 2002). From these perspectives, it is clear to say that line manager play a vital role in HR practices. However, in practice, there is a question arises as to which tasks they see as their priority and what effects the choices they make have in terms of HRM in general, and an employee well-being in particular. For example, they also get pressure on the productivity.
Most importantly, they are normally in the lower layer of the management hierarchy and front managers are unlikely to have formal management education (CIDP, 2010). In other words, they seem to lack the capability to implement HR practices well. As they are given the responsibility for performance review, Latham et al (2007) claim that line manager’s training is seen as more important than choice of rating system. It is clear to say that line manager generally lack the knowledge of assessment method for employees, which may have strong impact on fair performance review.
However, although there are some questions about the role of line mangers in the HRM, some studies are quite positive on such questions, and note the role of line in making HR strategies ‘come to life’ (Hutchinson and Purcell 2003, Purcell et al, 2003). Furthermore, in terms of HR line managers play as an important role on the implication of not only performance appraisal but also the process of learning and development. Purcell and Hutchinson (2007) believe that line manager’s leader behaviour is critical because their involvement in L&D leads to a wide range of benefits.
For example, line manager in the best place to evaluate outcome of learning, both to the individual and the organisation (Wolff, 2007). Moreover, Line manager also be the part of induction training to support newcomer’s settlement. Liden et al (2004) argue that line managers also play a very important for role in socialising employees, not simply by ensuring that they understand the content of the job, but also in bringing them into organisation’s culture and social network in the organisation.
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