The role and authority of a human resources manager has increased greatly as companies consistently include human resources as part of strategic planning. The HR director or manager of a company often sits on the executive management team, which sets strategies and policies. Within the organization, HR managers have both line and staff authority, and often various implied authorities.
Line management is based on the historical top-down structure in an organization where a manager had significant control over the production and revenue-generating activities of employees. An HR manager's role in line management involves leading a team of HR professionals in developing hiring, training, compensation and motivation systems that better the company. The manager typically has significant line authority in directing the function work of each HR professional.
Staff management is the role that has seen the greatest expansion over time for HR managers. Given the strategic importance of HR development and planning, the HR manager has gained oversight into many facets of employee life in all functional areas. The manager and the human resources function create and implement policy manuals and training programs which are implemented in all departments. An example of the HR manager's staff authority is her ability to mandate that all employees in the company attend certain types of training.
Implied authority refers to informal power granted to a person by company leaders. Given the prominence of HR managers, in recruiting, many have significant implied authority in the recruitment and selection process. HR managers typically guide the process of promoting jobs externally to the prospect pool. They don't normally have to run each posting by a company CEO. Instead, the HR manager assumes implied authority to act on the company's behalf in this manner.
Employment law has evolved greatly over time. Laws constantly evolve, and HR managers must recognize new regulations that affect the company. You could also say that an HR manager has implied authority to monitor changing regulations and make necessary amendments to company policies. An HR manager responding to an allegation of sexual harassment, for instance, would typically deal with the situation using knowledge and recent case studies to decide the appropriate response. In many cases, she can take these steps without consulting a CEO.