The role of human resources has been steadily broadening in organizations over the past two decades, from administration and record keeping to strategic partnerships with business leaders. HR managers today are tasked with a broad array of coordination responsibilities involving hiring, retention, payroll and benefits, employee relations, and performance improvement plans.
Approaching 2020, as competitive organizations have wrung out inefficiencies in nearly every aspect of their businesses, further enhancing profitability is a matter of stronger personnel management. Highly skilled HR managers are the key to this capability. Given this evolution, today’s HR managers must be smart leaders, clear thinkers, and polished business people. Their traits fall under the three broader categories of character, competence, and leadership:
Discretion: HR managers need discretion to fairly balance the concerns of management and employees, and to notice subtle, but difference-making nuances. As examples, understanding whether an act of management qualifies as discrimination or a supervisor’s criticism of an employee constitutes harassment takes skilled judgment. Handling confidential information appropriately at a time when data privacy is a concern is also an act of discretion.
Empathy: Professionals in human resources find themselves in daily situations requiring more empathy than most other professionals typically demonstrate over a month, or even a year. In terminating employees, discussing sensitive and private matters (such as medical issues), effective HR managers are able to balance compassion and concern for employees with a degree of professional separation. This balance is hard to strike without having palpable empathy.
Integrity: The foundations of human resources regulations are related to principles of fairness, equity, and equal employment and advancement opportunity. HR managers must uphold these concepts in their daily work and in their dialogues with employees and managers. Personal integrity is essential in doing this consistently and effectively.
Negotiation: HR managers are increasingly responsible for bringing parties together and learning their needs and expectations in working relationships. Collaborative work environments and cultural and generational differences can create tension. Frequently, there are opposing, yet valid viewpoints, and the HR manager must find workable compromises and resolutions.
Conflict Management: Conflict between individuals is an unavoidable outcome of today’s more collaborative environments. Diverse backgrounds, differing perspectives, and competing interests inevitably lead to conflicts, but these situations can be highly productive. HR managers must be able to help facilitate productive communications and address root causes of problems to mend working relationships. Conflicts also arise between groups, such as labor management disputes. HR managers need the conflict management and negotiation skills to act as mediators and arbitrators.
Organizational: Given the ever-expanding roles of HR within a company, managers must have an orderly method of organizing time and resources to get everything done. Time management skills, personal work efficiency and short- and long-term memory are all indispensable organizational abilities. Just as important, HR managers should be flexible multitaskers who can move back and forth between tasks and projects.
Expertise: HR managers must be knowledgeable in all of the HR disciplines, including staffing, payroll, benefits, safety and risk management, employee relations and training. Their skills must be broader, yet more developed in order to move from management roles into HR leadership roles.
Visionary Thinking: HR leaders define the roles of HR within their organizations. Is it just management of personnel and administration, or is it leadership in organizational change and culture development? To move up into HR leadership roles, managers need to understand what is possible, how to formulate plans, and how to implement them.
Communication: The most carefully constructed plans often fail in implementation, and poor communication is usually the culprit. Today’s HR managers are talented and practiced in all forms of corporate communication, from carefully constructing interpersonal emails to employees to speaking at town hall events. As effective communicators, HR managers serve as visible models for others to emulate in professionalism, integrity, expertise, and visionary thinking.
As specialists in finding skilled and demonstrably successful HR talent, Imprimis Group recruiters can help source managers with the character, competence, and leaderships skills your organization demands.