10 Skills to Become a Better HR Manager

Human resources might seem like the perfect job for someone who loves working with people, but sadly it’s not that simple. HR managers, be they in-house or from companies like vivoHR, need to have a handle on a wide range of skills if they want to succeed in their challenging job. We’ve listed out ten of the most important skills that any good human resources manager should have.

1. Discretion

While human resources managers generally do not have a legal requirement to keep interactions confidential — though you’ll want to read your company’s contract to double-check your own requirements — employees expect anything they’ve told HR to stay under wraps. There are cases where you’ll need to take something you’ve been told to other managers or even higher up the corporate chain. But it’s important to determine these scenarios carefully and to keep employees’ trust whenever you can.

2. Maths

If you went with a career in human resources because you were hoping to avoid doing any maths, we’ve got some bad news for you. While you may not use maths every single day in HR, you’ll need to possess at least basic competency with statistics and some other maths skills.

Maths is particularly important when it comes to issues of compliance. Turnover reports, salary determination, and affirmative action reports all require the ability to perform and interpret math and statistics.

3. Multi-Tasking

Unless you’re working for a massive company with an equally massive human resources department, chances are you’re going to be taking on a lot of different roles. An HR manager often splits time between a lot of different responsibilities, including compensation, new hire orientation, and more. To successfully wear all these different hats, you’ll need to develop the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once.

4. Knowledge of the Law

Sort of like with maths, you’re not necessarily expected to be an expert in the law for your work in human relationships, but you’d better know the basics. In particular, HR managers should have a strong grasp of employment laws.

Everyday choices as an HR manager can have far-reaching legal consequences for your company. It’s important to know some law basics, not just to make those decisions, but also so you know when to not make a decision and instead call up your company’s full-time lawyers.

5. Compassion

One of your most important jobs as an HR manager is listening to the complaints of workers. Even if you disagree, even if you don’t like someone, you need to listen and make sure that they feel heard. You may not be able to solve every problem that employees bring to you, but if you can’t empathise and make them feel like you care, you’re failing.

6. Knowing How To Manage People

While regular employees may have a sole manager they report to, HR managers kind of report to every single employee… and simultaneously acts as a manager to everyone! Even other managers at the company will turn to you for guidance on how to handle personnel issues and how to best manage the people who look up to them. This makes HR one of the most complex jobs possible. You’ll really need to know how your whole company operates if you want to offer the best possible advice.

7. Hiring and Recruiting Tactics

HR managers play a key role in the recruiting process and in hiring beyond that. This is a time-consuming job that’s about more than just internal human resources. Remember that even if you don’t end up bringing someone into the company, every candidate you talk to will walk away from the process with an impression of your company. HR’s job is to make the impression as positive as possible.

8. Knowledge of Health Insurance and Benefits

When people think of compensation for a job, the first thing that comes to mind is payroll, but that’s actually a relatively minor part of compensation at most jobs these days. Health insurance and other benefits make up a major part of the compensation package, and human resources has the challenging task of presenting those benefits to employees in a way that makes sense. A good HR manager will need to understand all the different insurance plans and other benefits offered by their company in order to explain them.

9. Compartmentalising

Compartmentalising is an under-appreciated skill wherein you carefully separate your work concerns from other parts of your life. This is key to succeeding in the world of human relations for one important reason: Your work in human relations never ends. If you can’t set it aside during non-work hours, you’ll risk burning yourself out.

10. Firing Employees

Letting an employee go is never easy. Your goal is not just to fire the employee, but to set them up to exit the company and successfully move on. The best HR managers will find ways for fired employees to feel like they have a reasonable path forward in their lives and haven’t just been left struggling.

None of these ten skills are easy, but neither is the job of an HR manager! By keeping this list in mind, though, you can begin to learn and work on your weak areas and slowly but surely become the best human resources manager you can be.