HR Skills Every HR Manager Should Master
We all know how HR plays a crucial part in an organization. Being an HR manager is such a demanding job, but quite worth it. With the incredibly complex world we live in, it seems like managers from the human resources department should master just about every single professional skill under the sun. What HR skills, specifically, should matter? Let’s break them down!
The hint is in the job title. HR managers must master the skill of dealing with humans. Sounds simple, but far from easy! Humans are organizations’ most important and valuable assets, and make up human resources quite literally. For an HR professional, this awareness translates into handling a broad range of situations in the workplace, whether issues regard group insurance coverage, an injury, a dismissal, or an anniversary. Interpersonal skills also mean navigating difficult and delicate personal matters and professional relationships. Mostly serving as a bridge between employers and employees, HR people bring their own expert contribution to shape the organization, and strengthen team culture and employee retention.
Essentially, developing human-oriented HR skills involves abilities for empathy, discretion, and comfort in dealing with conflict resolution and mediation. HR managers apply those skills as their line of work often involves supporting employees through difficult times and important life changes, staff recognition, anniversaries, recruiting and onboarding new hires, and personnel wellbeing among other functions.
HR Managers multitask constantly. Between answering emails to never-ending questions from employees about pay and vacay, to analyzing strategic plans for company growth, they deal with the big and the small issues coming from all angles on a daily basis, with a sense that everything is pressing and urgent! So, being highly organized will dramatically make you a better HR manager. Assessing which issues to tackle first and making quick judgment calls on how to go about them, or keeping a filing system of sensitive, personal, and confidential information in order, quickly retrieving or updating personal files at all times becomes a valuable HR skill.
A well-run organization often establishes good communication. More specifically for HR managers, communication is a big part of HR skills in that they must be good listeners and good at reading people’s verbal and non-verbal expressions, including what is said and done, what is not explicitly expressed, reading between the lines, body language, and to a degree, intuition. On top of being keen observers, it is absolutely essential that HR managers be good communicators. This skill involves the ability to communicate difficult, delicate, complex, or important information clearly, in proper context, and in a timely manner. At times, they will be required to relay important information regarding the organization’s policy and speak in front of a big group or multiple teams from various departments and backgrounds while making sure everyone understands, or face-to-face one-on-one, and be comfortable in different settings.
Another important HR skill is a sense of curiosity and continually seeking knowledge. The field of human resources operating in a fast-paced, constantly changing landscape, HR professionals must be on the pulse of the latest policy changes, procedures, staff members and status, internal structures, news, legislation, trends, HR tools, and platforms. Anything can dramatically change at any moment, so it’s important to have the competence of acquiring continuous knowledge and seeking various and novel methods of doing things.
For example, more and more apps are being developed for HR-related tasks like online platforms for recruiting, payroll, scheduling, vacation and other time-off, employee engagement, onboarding, and training. Learning also means gaining inside knowledge about how the organization operates and functions through observation. Using employee feedback, KPIs and whatever available or innovative metrics within the organization to improve the organizational structure, HR managers play an important role in improving team performance, employee satisfaction, and retention.
Knowing all the rules of an organization, policies, and procedures from the inside out is an absolute must for HR managers. Rules and regulations also include health and safety measures and obligations, standards and requirements from workers’ unions and professional associations. The more they know, the better equipped they are to face any situation of conflict with employees thrown at them. Employees often go to HR to seek clarification on internal rules they don’t fully understand. Handling such inquiries successfully is similar to having an excellent customer service experience. Employees may show up in a state of confusion, distress, anxiety, nervousness, anger, or sorrow, and may seek solace by discussing with a representative of the HR department, hoping to find a sympathetic ear or a reassuring answer to alleviate their grievances and problem resolution. A little visit to HR to clarify things can make all the difference.
Stress management is the HR manager’s best friend. The HR department is stressful because dealing with humans is a handful. In order to have career longevity in the HR profession, an HR manager must develop a high dosage of tolerance to stress. Stress, the good and the bad, is not going away. The key is to know how to tame this wild animal once you’ve understood how it manifests itself. For one, stress can be positive by acting as a signal that requires our attention or preparation, prompts us towards action, or makes us excited to tackle a challenge. Stress can also be negative to the point where it takes over your life and become a hindrance to doing your job properly. In HR, occurrences of negative stress-inducing situations happen, such as confrontations or delicate issues.
HR managers must find long-lasting strategies to better handle stressful situations. The mastery of stress could even be transmitted to employees who come for help. Stress management recommendations or tips could potentially benefit the whole team. For example, learning how to breathe deeply, finding relaxation and stretching exercises to release muscle tension, or adopting a positive or grateful outlook on life to help to put things in perspective are some of the coping mechanisms to better manage HR-related stress.
Shirley is a Vacation Tracker occasional contributor. She’s held a few positions in communications, marketing and copywriting. When she’s not at her laptop, you can find her daydreaming about her laptop and chasing the sun while people watching.