While responsibility for the effective use of human resources lies primarily with managers, HR professionals’ role is to act as business partners or experts, to support managers to perform better

For instance, the HR department may develop a form or a system to help managers evaluate the performance, but it is the managers who conduct the actual evaluation. The HR department is responsible for helping the firm meet its business objectives by designing HR initiatives, but managers must implement these initiatives.

“Every people manager has a responsibility for hiring, developing, recognising and retaining their talent,” says J.C. Herrera, CHRO at McAfee. “They are the day-to-day person who each employee has interactions with, so they have to have the skill set to run through the HR stuff seamlessly.”

Leaders of high-performance organisations agree. In its recent study of Talent Management in the Trenches, i4cp discovered high correlations to market performance when talent management tools, processes and services are designed and developed in partnership between HR and line managers.

According to CIPD, there is a lack of measurable indicators for people management and leadership behaviours. Where individuals are promoted into managerial roles because they are good performers, rather than for their people management and leadership potential, adopt a command-and-control style instead of coaching their team through tasks.

Increasingly demanding performance targets do not always take into consideration the human and technological resource capacity, as well as the limited opportunities in the external environment

According to CIPD, faced with competing priorities, individuals are likely to focus on those aspects of their role that are directly linked to their individual performance in order to avoid sanctions.

If specific individual targets do not ‘add up’ to the common goal, employees pursue activities that support their personal performance and career goals over other priorities that can improve the performance of the team as a whole.

Survey respondents highlight that judgements on how appropriate their decision is can be subjective and prefer to ‘err on the side of caution’.

A company’s overall vision is not always clearly translated into specific objectives for individuals, resulting in competing priorities in cross-functional teams.

Organisations fail to benefit from workforce diversity by continuing to use unduly subjective methods of selecting and rewarding staff.

By aiming to eliminate undesired behaviours, organisations can create frameworks that restrict the scope for discretion and unconventional judgement.

For example, organisations may introduce people management systems aimed at fairness of outcomes (pay, benefits and rewards), but the mechanisms to ensure that managers apply the procedure fairly and consistently are ineffective or absent.

Managers are limited in the range of instruments they can use to motivate a diverse workforce. And in the absence of behavioural indicators, achievement of operational targets is the main objective factor that differentiates individual performance.

In addition, resource constraints make it difficult for managers to remain flexible to staff needs, while some cost-cutting solutions only add more processes to manage (for example managing contractors).

When talent management activities are executed with a balance of responsibilities between HR and line managers, the result is Purpose-driven Performance Management


Companies can take certain steps to foster an effective partnership between managers and the HR department

Specifically, companies should:

As Campbell Soup Company CHRO Bob Morrissey explains, “… we shifted our focus to manager quality, defining the role of the manager, giving them the confidence and competence to do it. That encourages them to take more responsibility, at the same time, taking some of the burden off HR.”