Line Managers Under Pressure

Nick Pye |


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Second in a short series of articles looking at why businesses must help improve line manager effectiveness.

The last 10 – 15 years have seen a trend towards streamlined organisational structures, flatter hierarchies and an increase in the functional responsibilities borne by line managers.

The result is that managers are increasingly overstretched and struggling to fulfil their dual operational and people management responsibilities.

At the same time many HR departments, which have traditionally provided day-to-day support to managers, have themselves been under pressure to adopt a more strategic role, while at the same time reducing overall headcount.

This has led to tensions in the relationship between HR and the line. HR wish to be more strategic yet still find themselves weighed down by too much admin, hand-holding and fire-fighting. While at the same time managers, with nowhere else to go, are frustrated by HR’s inability to provide the level of support that they need.

The pressures on both line managers and HR departments are intensified by regular organisational restructurings, the trend toward more mobile workforces, and the introduction of more flexible working patterns.

An additional factor in recent years has been the increasing regulatory burden faced by UK employers. In just the last few years managers have had to cope with a raft of new legislation covering areas such as working hours, parental rights, disability discrimination and age discrimination. In an Institute of Directors poll, 83% of those surveyed said that employment law was either a 'major' or 'significant' distraction from running a business.

In recent years increasing numbers of organisations have fallen foul of Employment Tribunals. The vast majority of tribunals lost by employers are because the organisation is judged not to have followed correct procedures. This usually comes down to managers being poorly-equipped to handle situations when they arise.

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Nick has more than 25 years of leadership experience, where he has held a variety of executive positions spanning marketing, business development, HR product strategy and has been CEO of Youmanage since 2010. Nick acquired the Youmanage business in 2010 and led the renewed vision and go-to-market definition of the Youmanage platform for its official re-launch in September 2013. With significant and continued product development, he continues to steer Youmanage as an industry leading cloud HR software provider. Work aside, Nick retains his huge enthusiasm for music in both trumpet and bagpipe playing!