manager vs employee

Why your HR team needs to engage with line managers


How many exit interviews have you held where there’s a giant, manager-shaped elephant in the corner of the room?

The soon to be ex-employee skirts awkwardly around your questions as to why they’re leaving, presumably to bring a quick and painless end to their time with the company.

                     Both of you know what happened here.

                     They didn’t get on with their manager.

It’s a massive problem for the organisation to lose a competent member of staff to a people conflict – not least because to replace them means an unexpected drain on HR budget and resources.

But what feels worse is knowing there was probably something you could have done to prevent it. After all, it’s in HR’s remit to ensure employees are content at work.

A 2015 survey of 1,374 UK employees by Approved Index revealed a staggering 42% had left a job in the past because of poor leadership and 30% felt their current boss was a bad manager. 

These are statistics mirrored around the world, with around 50% of 7,200 US employees confirming they’d left a job to “get away from a manager”.

And so, it seems there is much truth in the saying “People leave managers, not companies”.

It’s commonplace for tensions to flare from time to time in a busy working environment and it’s natural for certain types of personalities to clash. 

So how should HR get around these problem relationships?

The most important step is to train up your managers.

All too often, people in managerial roles have had little or no guidance as to how to be a good manager. They’ve done well in a less senior role and been promoted – or in many cases these days are straight out of university – yet in charge of managing a team very early in their career.

Management isn’t as straightforward as just assuming the role of ‘leader’ and getting the final say when push comes to shove. 

It’s about handling different personalities and preferred methods of working, delegating tasks appropriately; prioritising a constantly changing workload and much, much more.

As the department in charge of ensuring your company gets the most out of its people, it’s HR’s leadership and core capability to ensure that every line manager receives some form of management training, to help them do their job and do it well.

How does that affect a manager’s relationship with their team members? 

If a manager is seen by their team to be exactly the kind of pragmatic, fair and organised leader any management training will teach, they are far more likely to earn their staff’s respect, which is the basis for any strong manager-employee relationship. 

This kind of training is also an excellent way to make sure your line managers are well versed in how to deal with ER issues without constantly referring back to your team, meaning more time is freed up for HR; time much needed to focus on those really important commercial projects that add to the bottom line performance of the organisation.

Having seen the need for a variety of line manager training in many of the organisations’ we work with, we developed our own E-Learning training academy, focused on providing HR with the very best tools to up-skill line managers in managing a wide variety of ER issues. You can discover more about our E-Learning courses here.

Having developed the E-learning academy, we have been completely surprised by the seeming lack of equivalent training resources in the market. A major gap in any HR team’s training and development armoury. Much of the E-learning resources available are focused on Regulatory or CPD type professional training. The poor old line manager seems to have been neglected in handling the types of ER issues that happen daily in most organisations.

So – next time you are dealing with yet another manager’s issue with a member of staff, or find yourself questioning overall capability in the management population – why not take a look at our E-learning resources?

You never know – it might just be that one decision you look back on fondly that has freed up that all important time to focus on the core strategic projects that will really make a commercial difference to your organisation.

We are the HR and employment law experts from esphr. 

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

Call 0333 006 2929 or email today to discover exactly how we can help you.


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