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What Skills Should a Human Resources Manager Have?


“When given the proper tools and the trust to be empowered and make decisions, HR can be one of the most vital voices at the table.” – Steve Wynn

Human Resources Managers are responsible for coordinating the team of individuals within a company, as well as working with other departmental managers. As such, they need strong qualifications, knowledge, and experience to manage their teams and effectively develop strategies to improve productivity. What specific skills must HR Managers possess? This blog discusses five essential skills a human resources manager should acquire in order to excel in their role.

What is the role of an HR manager in organizations?

The Human Resource Manager is responsible for planning, leading, and directing organizations’ human resources (HR) functions. The HR manager plays a leadership role in managing the following HR activities:

  • Recruitment, selection & retention
  • Onboarding, training & development (talent management)
  • Payroll & benefits
  • Legal compliance
  • Employee-Employer Relations
  • Health & Safety
  • Collecting & managing employee data

Why is Human Resources Management important?

HR managers play a leading role in the planning and developing of an organization’s culture. This is accomplished through implementing and communicating policies and procedures that fall within the purview of the HR function. The administration of the human resources activities is known as Human Resources Management (HRM). 

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are objective, measurable skills acquired through training, formal education, or work experiences. Hard skills are specific abilities, for example, programming, a second language, accounting, welding, etc. Hard skills are valuable because they take time to learn, master, and retain. 

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are abilities that describe how a person works, interacts, and communicates with peers and coworkers. In contrast to hard skills, soft skills are learned through personal and work experience. Examples of soft skills include communication ability, organizational skills, time management skills, and conscientiousness, to name a few.

Five Essential Hard & Soft Skills HR Managers Must Have 

l) Leadership Skills

The role of a leader is to plan, organize, and motivate people toward a vision or particular outcome. A leader has unique qualities; s/he exudes confidence, is respected and engenders loyalty; these qualities are necessary in order to command authority over coworkers and peers. Further, leaders must effectively communicate simple or complex details and tasks to individuals and groups in ways that inspire action. In sum, leaders require the ability to lead, motivate and control individuals and groups in order to achieve the desired results.

Examples of leadership skills include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Problem-Solving skills
  • Planning skills
  • Change management skills
  • Communication skills
  • Vision
  • Decision-making skills

Leadership skills are essential for HR managers because they must set an example for their team to emulate and expectations for them to achieve. Further, HR managers must command the respect of coworkers in order to motivate and lead them toward achieving departmental and organizational objectives. HRM encompasses many activities; thus, it requires a strong and synergetic HR team that is well-led to succeed.

ll) Communication Skills

Communication occurs when a sender relays or shares information with a receiver. Communication can take the form of conversations, meetings, emails, texts, hand-written notes, calls, etc. Good communicators actively listen, speak or write, ask clarification questions, and choose words carefully.

The benefits of strong communication skills in organizations include (iHASCO):

  • Improves relationships
  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Boosts productivity and engagement
  • Enhances problem-solving
  • Reduces workplace conflict

HR managers need strong communication skills to carry out their responsibilities. Good communication leads to synergetic relationships, builds inter-organizational trust, reduces workplace conflict, and increases efficiency and productivity. Additionally, HR managers work with information that is, at times, complex and affects large portions of an organization’s workforce.

For example, benefits administration, changes to labor legislation, or new policy initiatives require the ability to explain concisely to employees. Therefore, HR managers must be able to deconstruct complicated information and be able to simplify it, and concisely explain it to employees. 

lll) Organizational Skills

Organizational skills are skills employees and managers acquire from working in an organization. For example, organizational skills allow individuals to meet deadlines, manage time, delegate tasks, set goals, make decisions, manage teams or projects, and implement strategies. These skills are needed in the workplace to facilitate synergy and productivity and ensure company objectives are consistently met.

HR managers with strong organizational skills allow organizations to function optimally by ensuring employees are trained, understand the business’s goals and that the work environment is safe and conducive to productivity. Also, HR managers with strong organizational skills can align HRM activities to support the company’s values, mission and goals.

lV) Conscientiousness

Conscientiousness is a trait that is associated with self-awareness. Conscientious people are organized, take the initiative, and demonstrate persistence. Furthermore, conscientious people are more likely to emerge as leaders and be effective in that role. Conscientiousness correlates with diligence, a strong work ethic, and long-term career success.

A study by the University of Minnesota found:

  • conscientiousness is related to motivation for goal-directed performance, interpersonal responsibility for shared goals, organizational commitment, perseverance, and proficient job performance, along with avoiding counterproductive, antisocial and deviant behaviors;
  • The value of conscientiousness for job performance peaks when employees aim to accomplish conventional goals through persistence and operate in predictable environments;
  • Regardless of job or setting, conscientiousness is the key to understanding motivational engagement and behavioral restraint at work.

HR managers who express high levels of conscientiousness can exert significant influence over employee work attitudes and behaviors. Conscientious managers make practical decisions informed by ethical values and principles. Therefore, conscientious HR managers will successfully create a positive, safe, and productive workplace.

V) Knowledge of Employment Law and Labor Regulations

Business law aims to ensure that health, safety, and labor rights are protected within a particular jurisdiction. Organizations that fail to comply with business laws could be subject to fines, penalties, legal proceedings, or shutdowns. Moreover, non-compliance also affects a business’s reputation as an employer and partner.

HR managers must have a strong knowledge of labor and employment law to ensure that their organization is compliant. In addition, many HR activities are directly impacted by employment law; examples include occupational health and safety, employee relations, compensation, recruitment, and policy development. Hence, HR managers require a solid understanding of employment law to ensure that employees are safe and that organizations act in good faith.

“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” – Steve Wynn

Human Resources Managers play a vital role in the successful running of a company. To be an effective HR Manager, specific skills and qualities are essential. This blog has discussed 5 of the most critical skills every HR Manager should possess. These include strong communication and interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, good organizational skills, leadership qualities, and knowledge of human resources best practices.

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