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What is a Line Manager?

A question that comes up regularly when I am talking to clients is “What is a Line Manager?”. It may seem an obvious answer but it is a role that can be misunderstood.

A line manager is an employee that has the responsibility for overseeing and managing employees or a specific department within an organisation.

Most often, this is with direct responsibility for managing the people that work within their span of control. Line managers are typically part of the middle management level, situated between senior management and individual employees. They play a pivotal role in translating strategic organisational goals and converting them into actionable tasks, ensuring their successful implementation at the operational level.

This article will provide a concise synopsis of the responsibilities of a Line Manager and the typical characteristics that a successful line manager will have.

Manager in a business meeting

Responsibilities and Duties of a Line Manager

The main responsibilities of a line manager can vary depending on the type of organisation, its size, industry, and the nature of the work that they oversee. Some common key responsibilities for a line manager include:


Line managers are responsible for supervising and managing the members of their team. This involves overseeing their work, ensuring they understand their tasks and responsibilities, and providing guidance and support when needed.

Goal Setting and Performance Management

Line managers play an important role in setting performance goals and expectations for their team members. They monitor individual and team performance, provide regular feedback, and conduct performance evaluations.

Resource Allocation

Line managers are responsible for resource allocation within their departments. This includes assigning tasks and projects to team members, ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of workload, and managing available resources efficiently.

Operational Management

Line managers handle day-to-day operational matters within their departments to ensure all available resources are being used efficiently. This can include overseeing workflow, addressing issues and bottlenecks, and ensuring that work is completed according to established processes, timelines, and quality.

Employee Development

Line managers are responsible for ensuring that their team members have the right skills for the department to achieve its goals and to identify any skills gaps. They organise the development of their team striking the right balance between what the department needs and the employees’ desire to grow and feel committed to their role.

Communication and Reporting

Line managers act as a communication bridge between senior management and their team members. They translate organisational goals and objectives to their team and, in turn, communicate team progress and challenges to higher-ups.

Conduct and Conflict Resolution

Line managers must be skilled at handling conflict and resolving issues that arise within their team. Effective conflict resolution skills contribute to a harmonious and productive work environment.

Motivation and Engagement

Line managers are instrumental in motivating and engaging their team members. They recognise and reward good performance, provide positive reinforcement, and ensure that employees feel valued and appreciated.

Ensuring Compliance

Line managers must ensure that their team adheres to company policies, procedures, and regulations. They are responsible for promoting a culture of compliance and ethical conduct.

Recruitment and Onboarding

Line managers will support the recruitment process, designing job roles and person specifications and contributing towards the selection process for new team members. They will also be responsible for a positive onboarding experience and integrating new employees into the team and the wider organisation.

Health and Safety

Line managers are responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their team members. This involves assessing risk, identifying potential hazards, promoting safe work practices, and addressing any health or safety concerns promptly.

Typical characteristics of an effective line manager

Effective line managers will possess a range of personal characteristics that enable them to lead their teams successfully and contribute to the organisation's overall success. These will typically include:

Strong Leadership Skills

Effective line managers demonstrate strong leadership qualities. They inspire and motivate their team members, set a positive example, and provide clear direction and guidance.

Excellent Communication Skills

Great communication skills are important for a line manager to convey expectations, goals, and feedback effectively. They should be able to listen actively to their team members and encourage open and transparent communication.

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence

Effective line managers understand and empathise with their team members' needs and concerns. They possess emotional intelligence, allowing them to handle interpersonal dynamics and conflicts sensitively.


Line managers must be able to make good decisions promptly and confidently. They will assess the available information, consider the options available to them, assess the impact on the team and the wider organisation before arriving at well-informed decisions.

Problem-Solving Abilities

An effective line manager is skilled at identifying and resolving challenges and obstacles. They encourage creative problem-solving within their team and seek solutions that lead to better outcomes.


The business environment is constantly evolving, and an effective line manager adapts to changes and embraces new approaches. They remain flexible in their management style and encourage their team to be adaptable as well.

Performance Management Expertise

Line managers are adept at setting performance goals, providing constructive feedback, and conducting performance evaluations. They encourage growth and development in their team members.

Conflict Resolution

An effective line manager addresses conflict promptly and constructively. They mediate disputes, encourage a positive work environment, and promote teamwork.


Effective line managers are focused on achieving results and meeting organisational objectives. Effective line managers align their team's efforts with the overall goals of the company.

Trustworthiness and Integrity

Trust is fundamental in a manager-employee relationship. Effective line managers are honest, ethical, and consistent in their actions, earning the trust and respect of their team members.

Ability to Empower and Delegate

Rather than micromanaging, an effective line manager empowers their team members to take ownership of their work. They delegate responsibilities, provide necessary resources, and trust their team to deliver results.

Continuous Learning

An effective line manager is committed to their personal and professional growth. They seek opportunities to enhance their skills, stay updated with industry data, and apply new knowledge to improve their team's performance.

Calm under Pressure

Line managers often face high-pressure situations. An effective manager remains composed, makes rational decisions, and supports their team during challenging times.

Positive and Supportive

An effective line manager maintains a positive attitude and creates a supportive work environment. They celebrate team achievements, recognise individual contributions, and offer encouragement during setbacks.

The impact a great Line Manager has on their team and the organisation

By creating a positive work environment, empowering and motivating team members, and promoting open communication, effective line managers improve employee engagement and job satisfaction. This, in turn, leads to higher productivity, reduced turnover rates, and increased employee loyalty.

Furthermore, they enhance team performance, drive efficiency, and promote collaboration among employees. Their adeptness in setting clear performance goals, providing feedback, and facilitating employee development contributes to the growth and success of the organisation. An organisation with skilled and effective line managers is better positioned to achieve its strategic objectives, respond to challenges, and maintain a competitive edge in the market.


Excellent people management skills have a significant impact on both the team and the organisation as a whole. You can start improving your people management skills with our book "People Management".


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