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Essential HR Manager Skills and Competencies

Human resource management responsibilities require an overlapping set of skills and competencies. If you’re looking for an edge in today’s competitive job market, understanding  and developing these skills is the key to success. Let’s count down six core competencies for HR professionals.

1. Human Resources Knowledge

Today’s job seekers have access to more information than ever before. Therefore, the best HR professionals must be prepared to meet these informed candidates with industry expertise of their own.

Understanding how and why individuals enter and move within an organization is at the core of everything else you will do in human resources. HR managers who truly add value are always attuned to “the big picture” of how HR practices relate to a successful business.

Your knowledge in this area needs to be greater than anyone else’s to support the objectives of employees and employers alike. After all, HR management is not just about talent acquisition, but also about retention.

2. A Commitment to Ongoing HR Learning

Today’s business landscape is complex and in a state of constant flux. The field of HR is dynamic and our ability to process and understand it needs self-motivation.

Growing in your job means being receptive to new ideas, wherever they may come from. Have you demonstrated a commitment to ongoing learning by taking advantage of conferences, other colleagues in HR, or graduate studies?

HR professionals who never stop learning are well-positioned to translate well thought out industry trends and data into actionable insights.  

3. Communication Skills in Human Resources

The primary function of the typical HR professional’s job involves facilitating discussion between employees and employers. If a human resources manager can’t communicate clearly they will not be successful. Both oral and written skill are required to effectively relay information.

One aspect of communication that gives people an edge is a strong ability for conflict resolution. Even in the most agreeable workplaces, problems arise that need a diplomatic ear, an eye for assessment, and a hand for getting the problem settled. This particular skill is invaluable when negotiating solutions and keeping things on track.

4. Critical Thinking Skills

Critical thinking is in the “sweet spot” of less common/more desired employed traits, according to an analysis of the skills gap by Bloomberg. HR professionals, in particular, frequently need to balance complex situations and take their time to think with a combination set-in-stone processes and outside-the-box thinking.

Employees come from a breadth and depth of backgrounds and experiences. HR professionals need to strategically cultivate an environment in which all can work together toward the improvement of the business.

5. An Ethical Approach for Human Resources

The importance of ethics as an HR core competency cannot be overstated. Every day, HR professionals face ethical challenges related to everything from managing private employee information to protecting the reputation of their organizations. Adopting an unwavering and unilateral commitment to ethics not only helps attract top talent while safeguarding your organization, but also fosters a culture of trust and loyalty.

Part of being ethical is truly caring about people. Empathy for tough situations and “real life” goes a long way to setting you apart from those who just do it “by the book.”

Some ethical principles are enshrined in law. Making sure your company’s policies and practices are in legal compliance is a mainstay in the world of human resources. Avoiding discrimination in regard to ethnic background, disability, religious belief, and many other factors is important because of the hurt it will avoid and to foster a better, more diverse work environment.

Laws are always changing, sometimes incrementally, sometimes as part of a great cultural shift. Therefore, staying up to date on national news, trends, and laws is particularly important; ignorance of the law is not a winning defense. Legal compliance, of course, also protects the company and its officers.

6. Human Resources Organizational Skills

HR management is a juggling act. The more organized you are, the better you’ll be able to stay ahead of what you need to do and have time for things you would like to do. If you think organization is something you either have or you don’t, think again. Organization can be honed by understanding where you work, and doing a few things the same every day to build a routine.

While these six HR core competencies may seem like a tall order, they’re embodied by the best HR managers in workplaces across the country. Great work experience can help, but that takes time. A Master of Science in Human Resources Management helps develop all these skills quickly. Not only will an advanced degree help you develop a richer understanding of how to be a better HR leader, but you’ll learn how to apply these skills appropriately for success.