A dedicated human resources manager is the backbone of a successful business. Human resources managers create a safe, efficient workplace by balancing business-related needs with employee demands. Their job duties often include benefits management, conflict mediation, applicant interviews and staff training. Many human resources managers also promote or terminate employees, and are responsible for compiling evidence after allegations of harassment or discrimination.
Basically, human resources managers do everything a business needs to thrive. That’s why it’s essential that HR managers are equipped to effectively handle their hectic workdays.
Not quite sure what that means? Whether you’re a business owner seeking the perfect human resources manager or a current HR manager interested in personal development, our list of must-have skills below can help take your HR department to the next level.
Skill #1: Communication
Communication is arguably the most important skill a human resources manager must possess. A qualified HR manager needs strong written and verbal communication skills to handle daily tasks. Here are several examples of HR duties that require excellent communication skills:
- Salary negotiation
- Benefit explanation
- Conflict resolution
- Company presentations
- Employee handbook updates
Nonverbal communication skills are also essential. Nonverbal communication helps an HR manager determine whether people are uncomfortable, dishonest or confused during conversations or presentations. This is helpful when an employee files a discrimination claim or a potential employee undergoes a job interview.
Skill #2: Organization
It’s difficult to manage the needs of employees and business owners if you lack organizational skills. When an employee visits the HR office with a question or concern, the manager may not immediately know the answer. However, he or she should know exactly where to find the requested information.
Many HR managers organize information online as well as offline. That means there may be stacks of file folders with general company information as well as digital programs with sensitive data. Human resources managers often benefit from resource management software for payroll, employee schedules and benefit management. Business-oriented software streamlines HR management by providing important information on one convenient platform.
Skill #3: Tech Savvy
Gone are the days where HR managers would pound away on typewriters or draft performance reviews by hand. Many human resources professionals rely on visual planning software, digital spreadsheets and online databases to complete their job. A tech-savvy HR manager may also create PowerPoint presentations, update company blogs and track workplace analytics.
Going digital may even reduce the need for overtime. A whopping 94% of business professionals say that Visual Planning software helps them save time. Time management definitely matters in the HR field, as approximately 1 out of 3 HR managers works more than 40 hours per week.
Skill #4: Flexibility
Structure helps a business run smoothly, but HR management requires plenty of flexibility. Job duties vary daily, and unexpected issues may arise at any time. It’s impossible to predict when a workplace injury may occur or whether a benefit provider may abruptly change their policies.
Skill #5: Patience
If you’re a parent or you remember your time in elementary school, you’re probably familiar with tattling. Sometimes tattling involves a minor issue, such as someone sticking out their tongue or making a silly noise. Other times, complaints involve serious allegations regarding injuries or bullying.
This also describes the life of an HR manager. During an average workday, an HR manager may handle complaints ranging from “I don’t want to sit by Judy because she smells” to “Ross won’t stop touching me and saying I’m beautiful.” You may also have to deal with complaints about insurance and other benefit providers for your company or mediate conflicts between workers and their bosses.
All of this requires a calm, patient personality. Employees count on HR managers to handle their problems, whether they involve major concerns or trivial matters.
Skill #6: Negotiation
When an employee comes to HR management with an issue, they often believe they’re right, and the other parties involved are wrong. This is true whether the complaint involves pay, hours, job duties or another problem.
When issues like this arise, an HR manager diffuses conflict by negotiating with employees. The following situations may warrant negotiations:
- A new employee with extensive experience or a college degree requests a higher salary than the normal starting rate
- A current employee threatens to quit if they don’t receive a raise
- An employee wants to remain at the company but can’t handle the current schedule
- An employee refuses to work with a specific manager
In these situations, a human resources manager must negotiate compromises that benefit the company as well as the employee.
Skill #7: Ethical Actions
Human resource management requires ethical actions that preserve the integrity of all parties involved. However, that’s tricky because HR issues often involve gray areas without clear solutions.
A skilled HR manager must be able to make quick decisions when right and wrong answers aren’t obvious. These decisions must always protect the company and its employees. That means solutions must never involve favoritism, racism, sexism or other forms of discrimination or preferential behavior.
Skill #8: Compassion
Many employees are terrified to request personal time, even when companies offer generous plans. Workers worry management might view them as lazy, irresponsible or uncommitted to their duties.
As an HR manager, it’s important to remember employees have lives beyond the workplace. When an employee confides they are taking time off of work, an HR manager shouldn’t judge or interrogate them. An HR manager should also treat employees fairly and respectfully if they complain about serious matters such as sexual harassment or racism in the workplace.
Skill #9: Commitment
In order to be successful, a human resources specialist should genuinely care about the state of the company. It’s difficult for an apathetic HR manager to provide guidance and resources to employees.
Dedication and loyalty are essential traits for HR managers. An HR expert must fully complete projects, resolve issues and address employee needs. Half-hearted attempts may make employees feel inadequate or undervalued, which could lead to high turnover rates. Even if employees stick around, they may not do their best work if they don’t feel appreciated or respected.
Human resource management requires more skills than traditional management. If you or your company’s HR manager lack the skills above, don’t give up just yet. Schedule training, install helpful software and establish goals for effective HR management.