It takes a special kind of person to become a Human Resources Manager; it’s not a job for everybody. HR Software operations and hiring processes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the daily job requirements of an HR manager, and the to-do list rarely reflects the skills and values required to get the job done well.
As salespeople require charisma, human resource managers have their own set of desired traits and skills that make them a right (or wrong) fit for the job. Here are some of the must-have characteristics for aspiring HR managers.
Strong Communication Skills
Being a strong communicator is perhaps the most obvious requirement for human resources professionals, whether in an entry-level position or as a C-suite executive. Not only must you be able to convey your thoughts well, but you must also be able to listen to concerns and read between the lines. Not all of your job duties are going to be assigned in an office; you might hear about unacceptable behavior or employee concerns while at the coffee machine.
Being an active listener and knowing the tone of voice and body language that will best ease troubled employees or convey a sense of authority is essential. That’s why strong communication skills, preferably paired with an outgoing personality, are key to success as an HR manager.
Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
Empathy and emotional intelligence both tie into strong communication skills. However, you can have one without the other. To be truly successful as an HR manager, you not only require empathy, but the power to convey it to others.
In your position, you will be required to have many difficult conversations. Whether it’s laying off a long-time employee, firing a well-meaning individual for poor performance, or listening to an accusation of harassment, you need to make people feel cared for and understood. Think about it: no matter how terrible of a day you are having, you must always put the needs of others ahead of yourself. That can be a challenge.
As your job amounts to taking care of others all day, you must also prioritize time to take care of yourself. Self-care is something that many people struggle with, particularly those with strong empathetic characteristics. The ability to develop the self-awareness to know when you need to take a step back and take care of yourself is a strong skill set.
As you are the person who deals with the difficult conversations in the workplace, the experience can have a lasting negative impact. If you are the person delivering the news about a job loss, you will likely be the person to be yelled and cussed at if that’s the reaction. If you have to listen to a report about sexual harassment, those details can stay with you. You, too, are a human resource that requires care.
As an HR manager, you have access to extremely personal details about employees’ lives. For things to go well throughout your career, you need to be approachable– employees need to feel as though they can come to you with their questions and concerns. This means that you must be an extremely trustworthy individual.
Things have a way of getting around. Even if you take care to keep names a secret when gossiping about the goings on with your friends at a party, situations can arise where the story circles back and the subject finds out you broke confidentiality. Adhere to your contract and your ethics, no matter where you find yourself.
If you have these traits, you may have what it takes to climb the ladder as an HR manager. If you don’t have them yet, you can work to develop them through continuing education and coaching to become better at your job.