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Last updated: 21.02.22

What Makes a Good HR Manager?

HR managers are responsible for managing the policies and plans of a company’s human resources department. They take charge of many of the person-centric processes and systems within a business, and often have a wide range of responsibilities depending on the size of the company and whether they work alongside other HR professionals.

Working in human resources requires good levels of business knowledge as well as a real knack for managing, motivating and handling other employees. A manager has a lot of responsibility, so this is a role that requires a strong range of skills to succeed.

In this article, we discuss what makes a good human resource manager by highlighting some of the key skills that are specifically needed for the role, along with other qualities that are useful as an HR professional. 

Key Skills of an HR Manager

The role of HR manager spans a variety of responsibilities, meaning that quite a broad skill set is needed to do well in the position. Below are ten of the most important, relevant skills needed to be an HR manager.

Legal Knowledge

When dealing with things like recruitment and resignation or dismissal, there are plenty of legal policies that need to be considered. A competent HR manager will need a solid understanding of relevant legislation that will affect the work they do, as well as knowing how best to keep up to date with any changes to these guidelines or relevant developments in the industry.

Recruitment Experience

A lot of an HR manager’s work revolves around their company’s recruitment process, so experience in recruitment can be a very useful quality. You will need to understand the necessary stages involved in hiring new employees, as well as be responsible for finding ways to make this process as efficient and effective as possible. You may also get involved in interviewing potential employees or vetting them in the initial interview stages, so knowing how best to screen candidates and what qualities to look out for is also very valuable. 

HR Experience

The role of an HR manager is quite a senior position, so you will likely come into this job after working for a while in other roles in the HR industry. You’re more likely to be chosen for a position such as this if you already have HR experience, as this will make you much more prepared for the responsibilities involved and mean you have learnt a lot about the realities of HR from previous work.

Technological Competence

Larger companies in particular will often use software packages to manage all of their internal HR processes and policies. Being confident using technology and having the experience that means you can adapt to new platforms and programs will be very useful as an HR manager, as plenty of aspects of your work will be carried out or stored digitally.

Project Management

Project management is one of the most valuable skills needed to be an HR manager. The role involves overseeing many of the internal processes within an organisation simultaneously, and being able to keep track of the bigger picture whilst also managing individual tasks and providing guidance where needed will really help you in the role.

Ethics

The HR department of a company is responsible for outlining and enforcing internal policies, which means that an HR manager will sometimes have to deal with scenarios where these policies may have been breached or challenged. Having strong ethical values, being discreet and trustworthy and upholding company values is very important if you want to be an HR manager that people trust and feel confident working with.

Conflict Management

Conflict happens in all kinds of workplaces, and sometimes it falls to the HR manager to decide on the best way to resolve this conflict. Whether official procedures need to be followed to appropriately handle a complaint or serious disagreement, or you just need to decide on the best way to facilitate employees finding a solution to a problem, having strong conflict management skills and feeling confident using them is one of the key skills required for HR.

Presentation Skills

As a manager in the HR department, you will likely be required to present relevant updates and reviews to other members of the business. You may also be required to run workshops and training sessions with employees around new company policies and values, or to deliver statutory training when needed. Feeling confident delivering presentations and having good public speaking skills will make all of these tasks easier.

Strategic Thinking

Although HR managers are more involved with the people-centric aspects of a business rather than the overarching goals and aspirations, their work in human resources will affect business growth. Therefore, one of the key skills in HR is strategic thinking, as you will need to consider how the internal changes you make in a company could affect its performance and also identify key areas to improve or enhance that will have a positive effect on success.

Qualities of a Good Human Resource Manager

As well as the above relevant skills, there is also a range of qualities that are very useful to have as an HR professional. Some of the most desirable are listed below.

Leadership

In any managerial position, leadership is an essential quality if you’re aiming for success. An HR manager will have a lot of responsibility in their role and need to make decisions that affect their coworkers, so having strong leadership skills will be very useful in these instances where you need others to follow your instructions. Leadership skills will also mean that people you work with feel confident coming to you for advice, and as an HR manager, you want to be perceived as someone who should be consulted when there are questions or dilemmas.

Communication

As an HR manager, you’ll be speaking to a wide range of people within the company you work for. From delivering updates to directors to explaining policies and company culture to new employees, you’ll need to be able to express yourself clearly and confidently in all kinds of situations.

Written communication skills are also very desirable for an HR manager, as a key part of your role will be writing up all kinds of documents, from new policies to employee contracts. Not only do these need to be concise and understandable, but you also need to ensure that you can write in a professional tone that is suitable for official company documents.

Multi-Tasking

HR managers have a vast array of responsibilities, and there will be many cases where you are required to complete multiple tasks simultaneously. The ability to multi-task efficiently will be extremely useful in these situations, as you want to be able to keep a clear head and confidently organise your time to ensure that all deadlines are met and jobs get completed.

Integrity

Integrity involves having strong principles and being honest and genuine, both of which are ideal qualities of a good HR professional. As someone who is in charge of upholding company values and finding the best ways to make sure all employees follow and embody these as well, having integrity will make it much easier to do as well as setting a good example to the people you work with.

Interpersonal Skills

Roles in human resources handle the management of other people more than any other department in an organisation, which means that having good interpersonal skills is an essential skill required for HR. Being able to easily talk to all kinds of people, having high emotional intelligence and knowing the best ways to build strong and trusting relationships will ensure that you find it easy to interact with other employees and make many aspects of the role run very smoothly.

Authority

Whilst getting on well with your coworkers and ensuring that they see you as someone they can talk to is one of the top qualities of a good HR manager, you do also need to have authority in the position. If other people don’t respect you then it will be much harder to enforce policies and encourage desirable behaviour, so it is important to find the right balance between being approachable and authoritative. 

Organisation

As mentioned already, the job of an HR manager involves a lot of different responsibilities. You will need to be incredibly well organised to keep on top of all the tasks involved in your day-to-day job, feeling confident identifying priorities, meeting deadlines, managing your workload and delegating where necessary.

Composure

Some aspects of being an HR manager may involve dealing with difficult situations where emotions may get high or complicated scenarios have to be sorted out. Being able to calmly maintain composure will really benefit you in these instances, along with being able to keep a professional distance from what is going on, no matter how much you may want to get involved. 

Decisiveness

In a managerial position in an HR department, there will be occasions when you have to make the final decision. Whether this is on a new policy or process, a hiring choice or trying to decide how to deal with a complaint or query, decisiveness and a firm belief in your choices will show that you are a competent leader and help you get things done much more efficiently.

FAQs

What does an HR manager do?

An HR manager gets involved in creating company policies and strategies that affect employees and also play a key part in developing recruitment and onboarding processes. They will help to implement and maintain company reward and recognition systems, manage the processes involved in employee acquisition and retention, and deal with any issues regarding misconduct in the workplace.

What degree do you need to be an HR manager?

Being a human resources manager doesn’t necessarily require having to study a specific degree; it is possible to work your way up into the role by gaining general HR experience with a background in a range of subjects. However, there are higher education level courses available in subjects such as human resources management or business management that will make it much more likely that you start your career in a role that will progress to being an HR manager.

What is the role of an HR manager in a company?

The key purpose of the role of an HR manager is to support a company’s people-driven processes and strategy. They are there to act as a support system for employees and advocate for their needs and rights in a range of workplace scenarios, as well as helping to ensure that a business’ people-driven culture aligns and complements its overall goals.

Summary

Becoming a good HR manager partly comes from experience, but it also comes from working on the skills that you will need to draw on every day in the role. From the specific skills needed to carry out responsibilities to the general soft skills that make you more suited to being an HR professional, this article has covered all of the most important qualities that HR managers need to really excel in this job.

If you’re an HR manager who is looking to refine their skills, or an HR professional wondering what qualities will make them more suitable for this role, we offer an online ‘Developing the Skills of a HR Manager’ course containing much more information about how best to excel in this position.

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