I spend a lot of time talking to Lumesse customers about their line manager populations. Seems like all the issues in the daily life of a recruiter come down to managers, suppliers and processes (not necessarily in that order).

Now, I cannot claim expertise on making the perfect line manager – there are guides and books aplenty to help you in your management coaching programme – but maybe we can think through the effect of HR change on this audience and identify a common cause and effect?

1. Do you know what your line manager is going through?

Now, I don’t necessarily mean “in their personal life” although for sure there is a connection between ability to adapt to change and personal circumstances and happiness but perhaps we as change-instigators should be more aware of the internal pressures on our line management population, particularly in that middle layer that carries most of the transactions we’re focused on.

Last year the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled ‘What it's like being a middle manager today’  that wrote “… companies are leaner than ever, placing greater demands on staff even as they invest in technology that threatens to eliminate many jobs. Companies are asking managers to do more, challenging them to create and innovate while still developing talent and meeting deadlines.”

Before we start any new transactional initiative perhaps we need to take stock of this and prepare an impact analysis?

Some questions for you:

2.   Are you implementing a technology change AND recruitment service change together?

One of most common combinations I see a result of demands for budget reduction or drive for efficiency is the implementation of new systems whilst at the same time seeing a drive to push more transactional activity to the line manager, the perennial centralise / de-centralise cycle.

Now every line manager cares about recruiting, we rely on our teams for our collective success after all. Perhaps though this need to successfully recruit and manage talent is not the same as seeing the value in the “HR-isation” of the process?

In a search for efficiency, technology can play an enormous part and often allows organisations to adapt but it must be HR’s job to fully define value and benefit so that the line manager knows why good data is going to be of value to them later.

Some questions for you:

3.   Line manager experiences should be different from HR ones

You cannot expect a manager to perform the tasks of a whole function. So before you run a change project and add tasks to the line you must have an in-depth review of the most optimal strategy which will allow you to catch the information you need.

We know that we have compliance and legal reasons that make some transactions non-negotiable – but can this be manually captured another way? Are your systems connected to really work hard at removing double entry? (Seriously… nothing annoys a busy employee more when they see how their Twitter profile can allow them to register in multiple phone apps – they simply expect data re-use as standard these days).

All good managers know that trust is a powerful tool – so build trust by showing that you have optimised the tasks being pushed to line managers as much as possible. Make the lessons you have learned and the changes you have made as much a part of the manager induction program as the functional or process training.

Some questions for you:

Whatever you do, the relationship between manager and HR team is the same as all other human relationships, built on trust, responding differently to pressure and valuing collaboration and success.

I wish you success with your middle layer.