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Exclusive: HR is to blame for the line's talent management shortcomings, say leading HR professionals

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HR departments must do more to help line managers fully understand their teams, according to senior industry practitioners.

HR directors and talent directors from organisations such as Royal Mail, United Biscuits, Aegis Media, AMEY and Accenture agreed staff are promoted to line manager roles on the basis of being able to do one job - but could fail to make the right talent decisions due to lack of training.

Discussing the issue of talent management at a roundtable organised by HR magazine in association with Sum Total, Chris Roebuck, former head of talent management at UBS, said: "Line managers are the main identifiers, retainers and motivators of talent but their roles become blurred and fuzzy.

"They want to perform well and for their people to perform well. HR must provide tools to make it easier for them."

Tim Walker Jones, director of talent at United Biscuits, agreed. He said: "At United Biscuits we are concerned with doing the basics really well - it's not rocket science. HR must explain what a manager is and support people in the management journey. If you cannot build talent within your organisation, you cannot deploy talent and manage performance."

Roebuck added: "Talent links to line managers and leadership all the way down an organisation... smart businesses are already looking ahead, because they know if they do talent right they will beat their competitors when the recovery comes."