HR leader shaking hands with new employee

Top 10 Skills for HR Leaders

Want to find out how your HR manager skills stack up against our unofficial list of must-have expertise for HR executives? iHireHR’s list of the ten top HR skills is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you a good idea of how you compare to your peers and whether you have what it takes to be an exceptional leader or you need further professional development to reach your potential.


1. Organization & Administration

HR leaders are expected to have everything in order: personnel files, training records, W-2s, insurance information, etc. Regardless of whether the organization is made up of 10 employees or 10,000, a system must be in place to keep track of the necessary information for each individual in the company, and you need to be in charge of managing and improving it all.


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​2. Communication & Employee Relations 

It’s often said that the HR department is the conscience of the company. As the moral center of an organization, it’s your responsibility to speak with and for employees at all corporate levels, from the custodian to the CEO. You must be accessible and available to help team members with grievances and complaints as well as questions regarding professional development opportunities or prospects for career advancement. You are also in charge of letting personnel know how much they are valued by the company and making sure that key contributors receive proper recognition – because we all know that a happy workforce is more productive than a disgruntled one.


3. Conflict Management & Problem Solving

Your role is critical to ensuring everyone “plays nice,” and you are required to shield the company from the potential liability that comes with unprofessional behavior and allegations of discrimination or harassment. Mediating disagreements between colleagues who may view a situation in black and white is an integral part of conflict management. Showing both sides that there is a considerable amount of grey involved is one of the top HR skills and a hallmark of a great HR leader.


hiring and recruiting are two of the top skills for hr leaders


4. Hiring & Recruiting

This may seem like a no-brainer, but there is more to hiring and recruiting than writing job postings, arranging career fairs and interviews, performing background searches, and selecting the most qualified applicant. The best HR managers and directors have an eye for talent and they can tell when someone with impressive credentials may not fit in well with company culture or jump ship after six months when they receive a better offer. Hiring is a skill that, when done well, can keep turnover to a minimum, provide much-needed stability, and get everyone onboard rowing in the right direction and focused on a common goal.


5. Program Development & Implementation

Just as the best HR professionals can compile a team that collaborates for the betterment of the company as a whole, they can also take on large projects and see them through to completion with a dedicated group committed to achieving a short-term objective. Whether it’s a training program, a wellness program, a leadership program, or a new compensation program, HR leads the initiative from inception through launch and beyond, continuing to shepherd the project as it is integrated into the company’s existing framework and making subtle changes as needed to ensure that the endeavor is a success.


6. Policy/Procedure Creation & Enforcement

A company without standardized policies and procedures is a rudderless ship doomed to crash. It is up to the talented individuals in the HR department to make sure this does not happen by putting in place guidelines that provide direction for day-to-day operations. These rules ensure that all personnel are on the same page and, when someone operates outside the bounds that have been established, having a standard policy provides the authority to hold employees accountable for their actions.


HR leaders must be comfortable delivering presentations


7. Change Management

A lot of people do not react to change with open minds and widespread arms. When spearheading a large undertaking that will transform your company, you must approach it with careful planning, thoughtful implementation, and a dedication to collaboration with senior leadership across the organization. You need to have a solid idea of what your ultimate goal is before reaching out to key members of the company and working with them to achieve buy-in from employees at all levels. Organizational change must be executed deliberately for it to be effective and this requires truly deft HR manager skills.


8. Risk Assessment & Mitigation

HR leaders should be well versed in strategies for risk avoidance and always aware of potential threats to the company. This starts with confirming that the organization is in full compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws as well as any other industry-specific regulations. HR specialists need to take it one step further, however, and be vigilant concerning other types of risk such as embezzlement, fraud, workplace violence, and other actions that could damage the company such as inappropriate social media usage.


9. Strategic Planning

Executives in any role are required to have a certain amount of foresight. They need to tackle problems with a “10,000 ft. view” and an eye on the big picture. This is one of the most valuable HR manager skills. Critical thinking, flexibility, and a global mindset are attributes that will take a professional far in the HR field. You must be able to translate the company’s core mission into actionable objectives and guide those smaller projects that will contribute to the enterprise’s overall success.


10. Organizational Development

Last but not least on our list of top HR skills is the ability to manage a company’s training and performance assessment needs. To identify an employee’s strengths and weaknesses and devise a plan to nurture and expand their skills is a critical component to driving improvement and achievement. By strengthening the individuals that make up a company, the organization as a whole can be transformed into an innovative force, and by evaluating staff on a continuous basis and providing ample opportunity to learn new ideas, the best HR leaders can create a nimble workforce that is able to resolve problems quickly and turn a company’s shortcomings into assets.

by: Freddie Rohner, iHire
March 09, 2015

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