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 Realise that Your Relationship Needs Work – comes from the Free Guide – ‘Are You Annoyed by How Little Line Managers Support the Skills Training of Their Teams?’

In the excellent Harvard Business Review article titled, ‘Why Managers and HR Don’t Get Along’, Ron Ashkenas makes some excellent points about the relationship between HR Managers and Line Managers. Taking the notion that Muhammad won’t come to the mountain, HR Managers can influence Line Managers by demonstrating a better understanding of the pressures that a Line Manager faces. After all, we all just want to be heard.

Advice from the Founder of the 70:20:10 Learning Model. Charles Jennings was the Head of Global Learning at Reuters and latterly founded the 70:20:10. In the same podcast that launched the 70:20:10 movement, Charles spoke to CIPD. And it was about the role of Line Managers and the findings from the latest CIPD survey. His advice from 2007 is still relevant today:

Harvard Business Review - MBM Training Provider

Harvard Business Review

“I think there are a couple of very clear lessons that come out of the survey. One is that the L and D function needs to work hard to earn a place at the top table. It’s not going to get a place at the top table, as a matter of course. It needs to work very hard. To do that, the L and D function needs to build its capability to be able to sit across the table and have those business discussions with senior managers – absolutely that.

On the other hand, there’s a lesson that Line Managers need to understand. And that is that they have accountability for developing their people. And they need to work very closely with L and D. In addition, they can’t pass that responsibility across to the L and D function. It really comes down to a matter of trust – and as in any trust relationship, both sides have to work at it.”

The approach that won’t work is, ‘You need to…’ or, ‘I’ve spoken to the Director and…’ Whilst going above someone’s head is a valid form of persuasion, there are many other methods to try before resorting to the sledgehammer.


We suggest that the ‘All Together’ form of persuasion (see link above), with an encouraging tone, is the best route. For example, ‘We’ve got 9 Line Managers supporting their Learners with a 30-minute 121 each month. How can we help you to achieve that so that you’re not left behind?’.

Darren A. Smith

About Darren A. Smith

Darren has been working in the world of UK Supermarkets & Suppliers for over 25 years. He began his career as a buyer at big 4 UK supermarkets and after 13 years he decided to leave to set-up Making Business Matter because he wanted to help suppliers and supermarkets to work better together.

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