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Middle Managers Series: How to Explain HR to Managers

In 2023, we began a new monthly series delving into the MIDDLE MANAGER. Previously, we discussed the challenges faced by middle managers and some key managers’ desires and potential solutions.

We will continue to reflect on the evolving nature of work in today’s dynamic business environment and how we can support our middle managers.

This month let’s delve into how to explain HR to managers. We will explore the differences between the jobs of an HR business partner (HRBP) and an HR generalist. If you educate your team and create more collaborative relationships between HR and management, it’ll result in an improved profitability of the entire organization. Consider taking this information and create a series of talks with small groups of leaders from around your organization. Track who attends and be sure to follow up with those who can’t.

First let’s breakdown managers’ deliverables and responsibilities. Managers play a pivotal part in orchestrating effective communication across departments. Organizations function as a complex and interconnected system aka machine. Each department performs a crucial role, much like individual cogs in a machine, and their seamless interaction is vital for the overall success of your organization. The pursuit of continuous improvement and profitability is a shared goal across all departments. Smooth interactions between your departments is essential for achieving common goals. By increasing interactions among diverse departments, interactions can be improved. The prime responsibility of managers is to effectively delegate tasks and responsibilities to achieve departmental goals. Managers also play a key role in supporting and aligning individual departmental objectives with overarching corporate objectives. The success of managers is directly influenced by how well they navigate the complexities of departmental interactions and contribute to the overall profitability of the company.

Human Resources (HR) executes the influential function of supporting both managers and your organization as a whole not as a separate entity, but as an integral part of your organizational system, working in tandem with other departments to drive success. HR can be thought of as the “oil” in our corporate machine that helps departmental cogs run smoothly with HR as the lubricating force. HR has a responsibility to actively contribute to the achievement of corporate goals. They achieve this through facilitating productive work environments, helping employees collaborate effectively with peers and through direct reports and therefore ensuring smooth interactions and operations within your organization. HR supports a variety of interests within your organization, emphasizing the need for a multifaceted approach to ensure enterprise efficiency. HR must ensure that all operations are executed in a manner that minimizes the likelihood of costly legal issues. This highlights the importance of compliance and risk management in HR functions. Lastly, the success of managers can be enhanced by leveraging the distinct functions of HR generalists and HR Business Partners (HRBPs) appropriately.

HR Generalists take a multifaceted role in overseeing key HR functions, from recruitment to policy development. HR Generalists and managers should have a collaborative relationship as the success of HR initiatives is contingent on the ongoing involvement and support of managers. HR Generalists are responsible for recruiting new hires and managing the staffing process in a timely manner. There is also a need for managers’ support and timely involvement in the recruitment process. Generalists continue the recruitment process through taking charge of staff professional development, including onboarding, career development, and training. (Managers play a crucial role in this development process as well with their ongoing involvement.) Generalists play a key role in developing compensation and benefits systems. These systems are designed to be both legal and competitive, addressing the company’s recruitment needs effectively. They oversee various aspects of employee well-being, including welfare, safety, wellness, health, and counseling. Generalists facilitate performance reviews and management processes, underlining their involvement in assessing and enhancing employee performance. They develop and implement policy documents and handbooks; these documents are crafted to be legally responsible and aligned with corporate goals.

The HR Business Partner (HRBP) takes the job of the HR generalist to the next level through experience and maturity to interact with senior management. They look at a range of issues from multiple viewpoints while focusing on a common goal: protecting the company’s best interests. The HRBP is a professional able to define enterprise-wide business goals and align them with legal considerations. The HRBP helps create the HR framework needed to deliver on those goals while maintaining or upgrading the HR capabilities necessary for their achievement. The HRBP also explains HR legal requirements and navigates the HR framework efficiently. The HRBP understands business mandates and communicates in business terms. They assist management in connecting business goals with strategies, tactics, and manpower. They possess the capability to identify obstacles to goals and suggest solutions. The HRBP develops and manages new pay plans, benefits programs, and performance appraisal systems. Lastly, they utilize HR metrics to support new initiatives. HRBPs are strategic partners with a comprehensive skill set. They not only understand the intricacies of HR but also possess the business acumen to align HR strategies with broader organizational goals. 

Hopefully through this blog you as a manager more clearly understand the different ways HR makes your careers more successful, actively supports your organization’s success, and benefits everyone. Both HR roles, HR Generalists and HRBP, contribute to making your lives as managers easier through distinct contributions. The collaborative nature of HR and management help achieve common goals and improve overall profitability. The entire HR function exists to encourage your company’s success, and by extension, the success of every individual manager.

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Stay tuned for First-Time Managers Often Are Ill-Prepared for their New Role next month…