The Gray Line Between Human Resources and Management

Regardless of company size, industry or location, Human Resources plays a critical role in the success of any organization. Typically, “Human Resources” is defined as the department or individual within a company that is charged with recruiting and training the organization’s employees, and managing the requisite employment responsibilities. However, many human resource functions overlap with management, so it behooves every company to define their various roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion, duplicate work or mistakes.

HR’s Primary Responsibilities

Human resources professionals wear many, many hats. First and foremost, HR creates legally compliant policies and procedures, and ensures they are being followed. Most employee-related activities provided by HR can be distilled down to three primary functions:

  1. Identifying, implementing and supporting all applicable local, state and federal employment laws.
  2. Defining and maintaining an ethical and professional environment for all employees.
  3. Establishing effective hiring systems, employee orientations and performance management systems.

HR must also address a wide-reaching list of responsibilities including:

  • Recruiting, hiring and terminating
  • Job descriptions
  • Attendance programs and disciplinary standards
  • Performance appraisal systems
  • Establishing corrective action and termination processes
  • Unemployment requests
  • Benefit plans, including vacation, leaves-of-absence and sick pay (PTO)
  • Processing and managing Workers’ Compensation claims and other safety issues
  • Processing payroll

Following HR-recommended procedures allows a company to comply with state and federal laws and creates an environment that is professional, safe and fair. HR also functions as advocates for both employees and the business because they focus on creating positive employee relations and a productive work environment.

Management and Supervision

Managers and supervisors, in addition to their own assigned tasks and duties, are expected to manage the performance of their employees and related aspects of that role. The job of the manager is to know the company rules and to ensure that both they and their staff are following them, and to make sure business needs are being met. Managers and supervisors monitor employee performance, and coach and guide their staff to meet or exceed expectations.

Critical Boundaries

Management should NOT be performing HR functions. It important that the management team knows when they are to include or defer to HR, and that they have a clear understanding of the boundaries that separate them.

These boundaries will vary from company to company. For example, in some businesses, HR is responsible for recruiting and interviewing, and will bring in management during the final selection process. Other businesses, however, have management conducting their own interviewing and hiring, and only engage HR during the onboarding and orientation stages

In all cases, when the law is involved, HR should be included first. HR should be at the front, guiding management through the maze of legal responsibilities and risks. Human Resources also plays a significant strong role in coaching management in effective communications skills and other topics designed to improve employee relations.

In summary, management and supervision are the leaders who are tasked with monitoring, managing and guiding their staff to meet or exceed their potential. HR shows management how to do this legally and ethically. And once HR has defined these legal boundaries, they should step out of the way and allow management to do their job.

If your business is facing any HR or management challenges, we invite you to contact CPEhr to explore how we can assist you in any of your human resource or employment needs. Visit our website at for more information.

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