Line managers have a lack of desire to implement HRM. However, willingness is essential for someone to perform effectively. Furthermore, line managers do not have capacity to implement HRM, since they have other, more pressing, short term operational responsibilities. This short-range focus may result in people management that is generally less effective. Besides, line managers have limited skills and competences in HRM due to a lack of training.
It is suggested that these low competences are a significant constrain on the effective devolution of HRM responsibilities to line managers. Line managers are also hindered by a lack of support from the HR department and it is argued that line managers cannot perform their HR tasks effectively without the assistance of HR professionals. Lastly, line managers rely on clear policies and procedures on what their HR responsibilities imply and on how to execute HRM practices.
Without these policies & procedures, their HRM implementation effectiveness is likely to suffer. The literature on devolution suggest that there are a number of limitations that can limit the performance of line managers in putting HRM policies in to practice (Renwick, 2002; McGovern et al. , 1997; Whittaker & Marchington, 2003; Hall & Torrington, 1998, Gennard & Kelly, 1997). Line managers can have a lack of desire or capacity in implementing HRM. Besides, they do not have the right competences for managing people.
Furthermore, line managers can experience difficulties because of a lack of support from the HR department or procedures and policies on how to execute their HRM responsibilities. This reluctance can be the result of a lack of personal motivation. Line managers feel HR responsibilities are pushed upon them, while beforehand they were the responsibility of the HR department (Harris et al. , 2002). The pressure of the operational tasks and the increasing HR responsibilities put excessive demands on line managers’ time and energy, and might result in role overload for line managers (McConville, 2006).
Line managers perceive HR activities as a “poor second” to their more short term goals and this can result in devoting less attention to HR activities. “This short-range focus may result in people management that is fragmented, inconsistent and generally less effective” (Perry & Kulik, 2008, p. 263). To implement HRM practices effectively, it is important that line managers have sufficient capacity to implement HRM practices besides their (dominating) operational responsibilities A very important reason for line managers’ capacity problems in implementing HRM is managerial short-termism. Line managers report frustration that they are not able to devote sufficient time to HR issues, because operational tasks tend to dominate” (Whittaker & Marchington, 2003, p. 250). The pressure of operational tasks and the increasing HR responsibilities put excessive demands on line managers’ time and energy and might result in role overload for line managers (McConville, 2006). Line managers’ role overload is measured with a scale developed by Reilly (1982) on the role overload of housewives.
Role overload of housewives occurs when the sheer volume of behaviour demanded of the wife exceeds her available time and energy. Nehles (2006) argues that line managers face a similar kind of role overload as housewives, but with different conflicting demands; operational tasks versus HRM responsibilities. The items on the housewife’ scale were translated into time demands for line managers. For example, the original item reads: “I just can’t find the energy in me to do all the things expected of me”.
This items is translated in: “I just can’t the energy in me to perform all the HR activities expected of me” line managers experience several limitations in implementing HRM practices. line managers are unwilling to take on HRM responsibilities, have little capacity to implement HRM next to their operational responsibilities, are incompetent to implement HRM practices, get insufficient support from the HRM department and are hindered by a lack of policies and procedures on (how to execute) their HR role. (Renwick, 2002; McGovern et al. , 1997; Whittaker & Marchington, 2003; Hall & Torrington, 1998).