Every manager is an HR manager

Managers should be nvolved in pay decisions.

HUMAN resources (HR) is often seen as a separate function from management. However, the reality is that every manager is also an HR manager.

Managers are responsible for the performance and well-being of their team members, and this includes many of the same tasks that HR professionals are responsible for, such as recruitment, selection, onboarding, training, performance management, compensation and benefits, and employee relations.

The difference is that HR professionals are technical people, and they have depth in these. Regardless of the level of support that HR professionals offer to managers, managers should have a certain level of HR knowledge to enable them to handle the basics of HR processes.

There are a number of reasons why every manager is also an HR manager. First, managers are the ones who spend the most time with their team members.

This gives them a unique understanding of their team members' skills, experience, needs, and goals. This information is essential for effective HR management.

Second, managers are responsible for the performance of their teams. This means that they need to be able to recruit and select the right people for the job, onboard and train them effectively, and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed.  HR professionals must come in to give them policy and technical support, but managers must take ownership.

Third, managers play a key role in employee engagement, motivation, and retention. Managers, who are able to create a positive and supportive work environment, are more likely to have engaged and motivated team members, who are less likely to leave the company.

Case of remuneration

During a recent discussion with several managers, a critical issue emerged — remuneration. To my surprise, these managers confessed that they are kept in the dark about their subordinates' salaries.

They have no say in these decisions, which are solely handled by the HR department under the guise of policy compliance. One manager recounted a disheartening experience of discovering that a subordinate was earning more than they were without any justifiable explanation.

This disconnect between managers and remuneration decisions is a flawed practice that disempowers managers and undermines their authority.

Just as managers provide input into promotion decisions, they should be granted the same level of involvement in pay decisions. It is illogical and counter-productive to exclude managers from a process that directly impacts their team members' motivation and performance.

The current practice of keeping managers uninformed about their subordinates' salaries creates an atmosphere of distrust and disrespect within organisations.

How can employees respect a manager, who does not influence their pay? This lack of involvement breeds resentment and erodes the manager's ability to lead effectively.

The correct approach lies in empowering managers with the opportunity to provide input into pay decisions within the confines of established policies.

Managers, after all, are the ones, who intimately understand the contributions and performance of their team members. Their insights are invaluable in ensuring fair and equitable remuneration practices.

By granting managers a say in pay decisions, organisations can foster a more transparent, collaborative, and respectful work environment. Managers will feel valued for their contributions, and employees will have greater confidence in the fairness of the remuneration process. This, in turn, will lead to increased motivation, productivity, and employee retention. The time has come to move beyond the outdated practice of excluding managers from remuneration decisions. Empowering managers is not just about adhering to policy; it is about creating a workplace where respect, trust, and collaboration thrive. By entrusting managers with a voice in pay decisions, organisations can reap the benefits of a more engaged, motivated, and productive workforce.

Other areas to add value

One crucial area where managers can add significant value is in training needs analysis, facilitation, and post-training support. By understanding the specific skill gaps and development aspirations of their team members, managers can tailor training programmes that align with individual and organisational goals. This personalised approach ensures that training is relevant, impactful, and utilised effectively.

Studies have highlighted the alarming rate of training decay, with research by McNelly et al. (1998) indicating that trainees lose up to 90% of the skills they acquire within a year of training.

This rapid decay is particularly evident in cognitive tasks and when training is not reinforced through practice and application.

To address this challenge, managers can play a proactive role in creating an environment conducive to skill retention and application. This includes providing opportunities for on-the-job practice, encouraging peer-to-peer learning, and incorporating training content into daily work processes.  By embedding learning into the day-to-day operations, managers can maximise the return on investment in training and ensure that acquired skills are translated into tangible outcomes.

In addition to training, managers can further enhance employee development by providing regular feedback, offering mentorship opportunities, and fostering a culture of continuous learning.

By taking the time to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations of each team member, managers can tailor development plans that support individual growth and career advancement. Moreover, creating a positive and supportive work environment is essential for employee engagement and motivation. Managers can cultivate a positive work culture by promoting open communication, recognising achievements, and addressing concerns promptly.

By fostering a sense of belonging and appreciation, managers can empower their teams to thrive, contribute to organizational success, and cultivate long-lasting professional relationships.


The notion that "every manager is an HR manager" is not merely a statement; it is a call to action. By empowering managers to take ownership of HR responsibilities, organisations can unlock a wealth of benefits, including enhanced employee performance, improved retention rates, and a more positive and productive work environment.

Managers who actively engage in HR practices, such as providing regular feedback, fostering skill development, and creating a supportive work culture, are better equipped to motivate, engage, and retain their teams. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of productivity, innovation, and overall organisational success.

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

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