Human resource accountability


This article we have given an account of what is accountability, authority and what it means in the successful working of a firm and the relationships involved in Line and Staff.

Accountability is the requirement of answerability for one’s performance. It is the opposite phase of responsibility in the sense that responsibility flows downward while accountability flows from bottom to top for proper performance. If one has been delegated with coequal authority and responsibility, he can logically be held accountable for results. While authority is delegated from a superior to a subordinate, accountability is created. In other words accountability is derived from authority. The important principle of accountability is single accountability. That is each person is accountable to only one superior. Divided accountability is undesirable.

We have detailed in the ensuing paragraphs Formal relations and how they are divided into line and staff relations

Line and Staff Relationships

The relationship with which the managers in an organization deal with one another are broadly classified into two categories namely line and staff.

Line and staff are often used in ways that are loose and unclear. Attempts have been made in some organizations to dispense with them. Thus, operating managers/departments are frequently substituted for line and auxiliary & service departments are used for staff. Line and staff are characterized by relationship but not by departments. The important category of relationships is line relationship.

Line Relationship

The relationship existing between two managers due to delegation of authority and responsibility and giving or receiving instructions or orders is called line relationship.. Line relationship generally exists between superior and subordinate. Line refers to those positions of an organization which have responsibility, authority and are accountable for accomplishment of primary objectives. Managers identified as line are not subject to command by staff position. In case of disagreement between line and staff the line managers has the right to make final operating decisions.

Line authority represents uninterrupted series of authority and responsibility delegating down the management hierarchy. In other words Board of Directors delegates authority to the managing director who in turn delegates a part of his authority to the general manager. The general managers in turn delegates part of his authority to different departmental heads and through them to the supervisors. The line managers are completely responsible and accountable for the results achieved by the employees of the respective departments and sections. This means even if the authority is delegated responsibility for action taken by a subordinate still rests with the superior. The second kind of relationships is staff relationship.

Staff Relations

The staff concept is probably as old as organization itself. It is virtually impossible to busy line managers to perform all their functions and concentrate on all activities including management of the people in their respective departments. This gives rise to securing advice and help from specialists. This creates staff relationships. The relationship between two managers is said to be a staff relation, when it is created due to giving and taking advice, guidance, information, help or assistance, counseling etc., in the process of attaining organizational goals.

We conclude that the staff managers are responsible for identifying the problems, collect information and develop alternative suggestions and help the line managers to make right decisions quickly. Staff control is monitoring and reporting, which brings the results of information to the attention of the line managers for action by the line. They reduce the work load of the line managers and allow them to concentrate on their operative issues.

From the above one can visualize the responsibilities of line and staff are clearly outlined for effective functioning of an organization to ensure higher productivity and profitability.