Pari started the session with an example of the IBM offices is Kingston, the business unit with 100 engineers under one director. As the small unit grew bigger, the boundary less nature of the unit disappeared. This is the case with most organizations now.
The current business models are being relooked at to suit the agile nature of the industry.
How do we re-ignite the spirit of a small company in a big organizational setup so that the business does not get impacted?
Hirak spoke about a thin line between the line role and the HR role. It is the organizational culture that defines the role of the line or the HR.
Navin opined that in today’s scenario there is not much difference between both the functions. To which Sriram added that HR plays an important role in grooming the line to act as better people managers. Navin spoke about the HR role in benchmarking the organizational culture. The biggest differentiator that HR can bring about is in nurturing talent.
Sriram shared how large organizations have already evolved in the line function. It is the line managers who are closest to the workforce and it is their responsibility in providing the candid work environment. HR needs to work on transitioning functions like career progression to the line managers through a guiding framework. Line managers understand the pulse of the company as they are closer to the employees and it makes sense to have the HR support them in the people management functions.
Hirak spoke about the competency that HR needs to show. HR has expertise in change management and has an understanding of the business which makes them strategic partners of the business.
The maturity of an organization is seen in the fact that employees understand that people management is not just a HR job but is a crucial line function.
Navin further affirmed that the line managers should be more accountable people managers.
Pari shares an incident where she describes the role played about HR in understanding the business and being the team that addresses the business requirement.
Can Sriram share few areas where the shift will not work and what can be done to make it work
Sriram spoke about autonomy and empowerment of line which is monitored through HR framework. Core HR functions, like workforce planning, can be decentralized to the line managers with proper guidelines being defined by the HR. Hirak said that policies will have to be structured by HR managers with consultation with the Line.
Navin emphasized the importance of retention of the team as being the critical criteria in the line managers’ scorecard. Aligning the career path becomes an important component of line function.
The role played by the organizational leaders in bringing about this shift in the HR & line role will be important. The shift in the role and its success depends on the organizational culture. Business leaders have to believe that the shift needs to be made and it will make an impact to the way we function. HR should be more involved with the change management.
Sriram affimed that movement within a line role or business role will give a better prospective to what the business requirement is from HR. Such movement helps in capability building. HR needs to understand the line to provide the right solutions. There has to be better synergy between the business and HR.
Thus, HR professionals will need to become subject matter experts. The idea is to move the people manager role to be moved to Line while the HR developing a framework to monitor the shift in role.
Summing up the session, the food for thought would be re-defining the line and HR roles. HR owns the design and the policies and processes but it is the line manager who brings them to life as they are the people on the ground. Some of the HR services can be moved to Line so that HR can focus on being strategic partners to business.