What Makes for a Good HR Manager? Here are the Must-Haves

What makes an outstanding HR manager? Discover the key characteristics and skills needed to effectively lead your organization

May 9, 2023
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An HR manager is the linchpin of an organization, skillfully guiding and nurturing the talents that fuel your business’ growth and shaping the company's culture simultaneously. They are indispensable and possess distinct characteristics that make them fit for the position.

In this article, we'll uncover the qualities of a good HR manager, their roles and the practical tips on how to become a good manager.

Who is an HR Manager?

An HR (Human Resources) manager oversees and implements employee-related policies and initiatives in any firm. They are responsible for recruiting, training, employee relations, payroll, benefits, and assuring labor law compliance. 

An HR manager ensures that all the employees are familiar with the company's priorities and helps foster a good work environment for all. 

What are the 10 roles of an HR Manager?

Before we dive into the core characteristics of an exceptional HR manager, it's essential to understand what an HR Manager does daily.  Some of these responsibilities include:

1. Recruitment

According to the Future of Commerce, hiring has grown increasingly complex since 47 million American workers resigned during what is known as the Great Resignation.

HR managers are responsible for attracting and hiring the right talent for the organization, which includes advertising job openings, screening applicants, and conducting interviews.

They are also responsible for maintaining a pool of candidates/referrals for future hires.

2. Training and development

They ensure employees receive the necessary training and development opportunities to excel and contribute to the organization's growth.

They collaborate closely with department leaders to understand each team's unique needs, building personalized training courses corresponding to the organization's goals. 

HR managers also assess the efficacy of these programs, constantly improving their approach to ensure workers have the resources and support they need to thrive in their positions, adapt to new challenges, and contribute to the company's growth.

3. Performance management

They employ good management skills to monitor and evaluate employee performance, setting goals and providing feedback to help them improve and grow.

They create performance appraisal systems, evaluate employees regularly, offer constructive criticism, and select high-performing personnel for recognition.

4. Workplace relations

They mediate between employees and management, addressing conflicts, concerns, or grievances to maintain a positive work environment.

HR managers resolve disagreements, issues, and grievances by actively listening, settling disputes, and helping everyone find equitable solutions. They also improve employee well-being and work-life balance by monitoring and resolving possible stressors and providing support when necessary.

5. Compensation and benefits

HR leaders design and administer competitive compensation and benefits packages to attract and retain top talent. They also assist management in developing benefit programs like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off to establish a complete incentives package that attracts employees and potential recruits.

6. Legal compliance

They ensure the organization complies with all relevant labor laws and regulations to avoid legal issues and maintain a positive reputation.

HR managers follow local, state, and federal employment laws, implementing necessary changes in the organization’s policies and procedures to maintain compliance. They also guide management in collaboration with the legal department — on matters related to employee rights, disciplinary actions, and terminations.

7. Organizational development

HR managers help shape the organization's culture and structure, promoting a positive work environment and facilitating change when necessary.

They evaluate the company’s current culture, identify areas for improvement, and devise measures for a more inclusive and collaborative atmosphere. HR managers also help employees adapt to new processes, policies, or structures.

8. Policy development and implementation

They create and implement HR policies that support the organization's goals and protect employees' rights. These policies include guidelines relating to recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and more. HR personnel are also responsible for properly communicating these policies to employees and management.

9. Workforce planning

Human resource managers are responsible for ensuring a proper mix of talent at the right moment. They analyze each team's needs talent-wise and establish successful programs for hiring and retaining employees by working closely with department leaders.

10. Employee engagement 

A recent Gartner survey found that 47% of HR leaders consider employee experience a top priority for 2023

As employees' expectations evolve, they pursue organizations that focus on four key areas:

  • Personalizing the employee experience
  • Offering flexibility in hours and benefits
  • Promoting a shared sense of purpose aligned with their values, and 
  • Taking a holistic approach to mental, physical, and emotional well-being

HR managers are crucial to enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction by creating a supportive and inclusive work environment, celebrating achievements, and providing growth opportunities. By addressing these needs, HR managers help foster a thriving workplace where employees are motivated and committed to the company's success.

What are good HR qualities?

Finding out what distinguishes the top HR managers from the others is the first step in learning how to become an exceptional HR manager. 

Here, we'll explore the seven must-have characteristics of a good HR manager, offering insights into the qualities that can turn an ordinary HR professional into an extraordinary one.

  1. Strong communications skills
  2. Emotional intelligence
  3. Adaptability
  4. Conflict resolution
  5. Organizational skills
  6. Ethical decision making
  7. Leadership

1. Strong communication skills

Excellent communication is a core part of every HR personnel’s job and should be continually improved. An HR manager must communicate with workers and management effectively to settle issues, offer feedback, and deliver critical information. 

To develop their communication skills, HR officers can take workshop classes, seek feedback from employees/colleagues, and practice active listening.

2. Emotional intelligence

HR managers with high emotional intelligence can empathize with employees, understand their feelings, and manage emotions effectively. 

As job dissatisfaction rises, with 49% of workers feeling burned out, according to a Joblist Q3 2022 study, managers should focus on fostering strong relationships with their teams. They can do this by building trust through honesty and clear communication, establishing shared commitment and accountability, conducting frequent check-ins, and publicly praising employees' accomplishments.

HR managers can improve their emotional intelligence through self-awareness, mindfulness, and empathy.

3. Adaptability

The HR landscape is constantly evolving. HR managers must possess the ability to adapt to new policies, organizational structures, or industry trends. 

Being able to navigate uncertainty gracefully and turn challenges into opportunities for growth and success is one of the traits of a good HR manager.

To excel in adaptability, the HR team should attend webinars, cultivate a growth mindset and stay well-informed about emerging trends in their field. 

4. Conflict resolution

Skilled HR managers are masters at resolving conflicts between employees and management, ensuring a harmonious and positive work environment. 

To sharpen conflict resolution skills, HR managers can learn various dispute resolution techniques, such as mediation, negotiation, and problem-solving, while honing their active listening abilities. 

5. Organizational skills

Juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities is second nature to efficient HR managers. They must manage their workload effectively to ensure they can handle various tasks simultaneously and deliver results within the given timeline.

HR managers can enhance their organizational skills by setting clear priorities, crafting effective schedules, and utilizing productivity tools to manage their workload.

6. Ethical decision-making

The ability to make fair and ethical decisions that benefit both the organization and its employees is a fantastic personality trait of a manager and leader.

They can develop this quality by staying well-versed in relevant laws and regulations, carefully considering the consequences of their decisions, and acting with integrity. Ethical decision-making builds trust and fosters a transparent, responsible work culture.

7. Leadership

HR managers should inspire and motivate employees by fostering a positive work environment. They can seek mentorship, attend leadership workshops, practice effective delegation, and watch inspirational shows to improve their leadership skills.

By embodying strong leadership qualities, HR managers empower employees to reach their full potential and contribute to the organization's overall success.

What are the competencies of an HR Manager?

Competencies are the skills, knowledge, and abilities HR managers should possess to excel in their roles. They are the difference between an HR manager and an excellent HR manager. 

Developing a solid set of competencies empowers HR managers to navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of the modern workplace with confidence and finesse. 

Some key competencies include the following:

1. Strategic thinking

HR managers should be able to develop long-term staff management plans that ensure seamless alignment with the company's goals and objectives. 

By adopting a strategic mindset, they can anticipate future challenges and opportunities, positioning the organization for success.

2. Data-driven decision-making

A good manager embraces the power of data to inform crucial decisions, such as identifying recruitment needs or assessing employee performance. 

By leveraging data-driven insights, they can make more informed choices that benefit the organization and their fellow employees.

3. Relationship building

HR managers should excel at forging and nurturing strong relationships with employees, management, and external stakeholders, such as vendors and regulatory authorities.

Having exceptional relationship-building skills helps develop trust, collaboration, and effective organisational communication.

4. Change management

Good managers should be able to manage change effectively, guiding employees and the teams through transitions in processes, policies, or structures. 

By being adaptable and embracing change, they can help create a resilient and agile work environment.

5. Talent management

Identifying, recruiting, and retaining top talent is at the heart of an HR manager's role. 

By honing their talent management skills, they can ensure the organization has the right people in the right roles, contributing to the company's long-term success.

6. Negotiation skills

An effective HR manager must be able to negotiate with employees and external parties, such as vendors and labor unions. 

A skilled negotiator can reach mutually beneficial agreements that align with their team’s best interests while maintaining positive relationships.

7. Risk management

HR managers should be proficient in identifying and mitigating potential labor laws, employee relations, and workplace safety risks. 

Proactively addressing these risks can protect the organization's reputation and maintain a safe, compliant work environment.

By understanding and developing these characteristics, roles, and competencies, HR managers can become more effective and efficient in their positions, ultimately contributing to the success of their organization.

Organizations can also play a crucial role in the success of their HR managers by providing them with the necessary training, resources, and good human resource management tools to excel in their roles. As workplace dynamics evolve, companies will increasingly rely on HR professionals to navigate the challenges ahead. 

Therefore, companies need to invest in the growth and development of their HR managers, empowering them to tackle future obstacles with confidence and expertise. 

Elevate Your HR Game with Assembly

Becoming an exceptional HR manager is no easy task, but having the right tools can make the job more manageable and enjoyable. 

Assembly streamlines your human resource management and simplifies the lives of HR managers. Its centralized system keeps tasks, files, and communications neatly organized, helping you nurture a more positive work environment.

With Assembly as your ally, navigating the complexities of HR becomes easier and more efficient. Discover the potential of Assembly and see how it can empower your HR managers. Schedule a free demo today.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered