Role of a line manager in HR policies

When developing HR policies, we often see this project handled as a desktop study with very little involvement of the key stakeholders, such as line managers.

LINE managers play a vital role in implementing and enforcing human resources (HR) policies.

They are the ones who interact with employees daily and have the best understanding of the team's needs and challenges. As a result, they are well-positioned to ensure that HR policies are fair, effective, and aligned with the business's goals.

Their involvement in HR policies starts when the company develops or updates its policies. Whole HR specialists are responsible for leading the process.

They must solicit structured input from line managers. Given their proximity to employees, they are better positioned to know what will and is unlikely to work.

Line managers are crucial in developing HR policies by providing valuable input during the needs assessment, offering feedback and insights, customising policies to fit the needs of the border organisation, and balancing the needs of the employees and the company.

Their firsthand knowledge of operational challenges allows them to contribute practical insights, ensuring that policies are effective and aligned with organisational goals.

By actively participating in policy development discussions, line managers help create feasible policies that consider all the competing interests of the organisation's stakeholders, ultimately fostering a culture of compliance and accountability within their teams.

When developing HR policies, we often see this project handled as a desktop study with very little involvement of the key stakeholders, such as line managers.

In addition to line managers, employees must be involved through various forums such as the works council.

The advantage of this approach is the development of practical policies that speak to the stakeholders' concerns.

As the company develops policies, it must be clear which policies are driven by statutory requirements and which speak to its aspirations.

Statutory requirements are not negotiable. Line managers and employees need to know upfront which policies are statutorily driven and which ones are aspirational. Usually, line managers and employees have no clue about these issues.

Once the policies have been approved, in most instances, the approval is done by the board.

Even as you develop policies, you must educate stakeholders so that they know that the board approved the policies.

Line managers are key in communicating and enforcing HR policies within their teams. They are responsible for ensuring employees know the policies, understand their implications and comply with them.

Line managers can provide guidance and clarification to employees regarding policy expectations, procedures, and consequences. By actively promoting adherence to HR policies, line managers create a culture of compliance and accountability within their teams.

Line managers must ensure employees adhere to an organisation's HR policies. Firstly, they are responsible for effectively communicating the policies to their team members.

Line managers should clearly explain the policies, their purpose, and the expected behaviour or actions from employees. By providing thorough and concise information, line managers help employees understand the importance of compliance and the potential consequences of non-compliance.

This is not as easy a task as most of them think it is the role of HR. If you are working for an organisation where line managers mindlessly think that HR must enforce HR policies, you are likely already facing challenges with compliance issues.

Line managers can make a huge difference in policy compliance by leading by example. When line managers consistently demonstrate adherence to HR policies, it sets a positive tone and reinforces the importance of compliance.

By following the policies, line managers establish credibility and encourage employees to do the same.

Line managers can provide ongoing guidance and support to employees regarding policy implementation.

They should be available to answer questions, address concerns, and clarify policy expectations.

Line managers help employees navigate challenges or uncertainties in adhering to HR policies by offering guidance and support. In practice, I know many line managers refer policy questions to the human resources department, which should be that way if the line managers are playing their role.

Finally, line managers must hold all their subordinates accountable for policy compliance, including covering HR policy in the performance agreement with each employee.

Once this becomes part of the performance assessment, compliance in general goes up.

In addition to these specific responsibilities, line managers also support HR policies by creating a positive work environment and fostering a culture of respect and fairness.

Employees, who feel valued and respected, are more likely to comply with company policies and procedures.

The next time you develop your HR policies, remember that line managers have a role to play by giving input into the policies.

They even play a bigger role by ensuring that those they lead comply with the approved policies and take corrective measures where non-compliance is noted.

  • Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker and managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. Phone +263 24 248 1 946-48/ 2290 0276, cell number +263 772 356 361 or e-mail: [email protected] or visit


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