One of the major factors of a successful manager or human resource (HR) manager is an array of skills to deal with a variety of situations. It simply isn’t enough to have knowledge of HR, such as knowing which forms need to be filled out. It takes multiple skills to create and manage people, as well as a cutting-edge human resource department.
The first skill needed is organization. The need for this skill makes sense, given that you are managing people’s pay, benefits, and careers. Having organized files on your computer and good time-management skills are crucial for success in any job, but especially if you take on a role in human resources.
Like most jobs, being able to —that is, work on more than one task at a time—is important in managing human resources. A typical person managing human resources may have to deal with an employee issue one minute, then switch and deal with recruiting. Unlike many management positions, which only focus on one task or one part of the business, human resources focuses on all areas of the business, where multitasking is a must.
As trite as it may sound, people skills are necessary in any type of management and perhaps might be the most important skills for achieving success at any job. Being able to manage a variety of personalities, deal with conflict, and coach others are all in the realm of people management. The ability to communicate goes along with people skills. The ability to communicate good news (hiring a new employee), bad news (layoffs), and everything in between, such as changes to policy, makes for an excellent manager and human resource management (HRM) professional.
Keys to a successful career in HRM or management include understanding specific job areas, such as managing the employee database, understanding employment laws, and knowing how to write and develop a strategic plan that aligns with the business.
A strategic mind-set as an HR professional is a key skill as well. A person with a strategic mind-set can plan far in advance and look at trends that could affect the environment in which the business is operating. Too often, managers focus on their own area and not enough on the business as a whole. The strategic HR professional is able to not only work within his or her area but also understand how HR fits into the bigger picture of the business.
Ethics and a sense of fairness are also necessary in human resources. Ethics is a concept that examines the moral rights and wrongs of a certain situation. Consider the fact that many HR managers negotiate salary and union contracts and manage conflict. In addition, HR managers have the task of ensuring compliance with ethics standards within the organization. Many HR managers are required to work with highly confidential information, such as salary information, so a sense of ethics when managing this information is essential.
Finally, while we can list a few skills that are important, understanding the particular business, knowing the business strategy, and being able to think critically about how HR can align itself with the strategy are ways to ensure HR departments are critical parts of the business. HR is a specialized area, much like accounting or finance. However, many individuals are placed in HR roles without having the specific knowledge to do the job. Oftentimes people with excellent skills are promoted to management and then expected (if the company is small) to perform recruiting, hiring, and compensation tasks. This is the reason we will refer to management and HR management interchangeably throughout the chapters. In addition, these skills are important for HRM professionals and managers alike.