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What Are the Four Competencies of an HR Manager?

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Human resources managers work in several capacities related to human capital. They oversee employee recruiting, hiring and terminations, training and job development, benefits and compensation. They also prepare policies and procedures for legal and best practices in personnel management. This work requires several skill sets and competencies, according to the 2012 Human Resource Competency Study completed by The RBL Group and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Four leading competencies for HR management success include sufficient job knowledge, leadership abilities, business acumen, and having the interpersonal skills necessary to advance change.

Know the Job to do the Job

Thorough job knowledge and expertise are givens for success. HR managers must keep up with new and changing employment laws such as those regarding overtime, disability and medical leave. They must be able to analyze and interpret these laws, determine compliance requirements and recommend actions to ensure company policies, procedures and actions align with legal obligations. HR managers must remain technically competent to provide the best advice, direction and support regarding activities like performance management and employee training and education.

Think, Decide and Take Action

A job in human resources management is not for the timid. Leadership abilities are necessary for HR managers to plan and develop programs and to mobilize needed resources for program execution. Managers must know how to take the lead in analyzing organizational issues, some of which are emotional, complex and sensitive, and initiate the right action for resolution. They must be experienced leaders in employee relations and conflict management and resolve problems while keeping these relationships intact. HR managers must also be leaders in ethical behavior and actions that promotes diversity and builds relationships.

The Business of HR

Human resources managers need a strong business sense and organizational awareness to properly support their organizations. They must apply strategic business thinking to their jobs so that polices, programs and procedures they develop and the guidance they provide align with business goals and objectives. Human resources managers must be able to assess business needs and connect them to service initiatives that solve problems, develop people, improve operational effectiveness, and increase business efficiency through a balanced approach that serves company managers and employees.

Master of Change

Improving a workplace through successful employee development is a human resources priority. Improvements mean change and HR managers must be successful change agents to advance initiatives that require employees to change the way they do things. Managers must accept the fear and anxiety people feel when faced with change. They must embrace the change themselves and support employees past the fears with open and honest communication, relationship building and teamwork. Because human resource managers must work with many different people and personalities, being a master in people skills is a fundamental requirement to effect change.


Deb Dupree has been an active writer throughout her career in the corporate world and in public service since 1982. She has written numerous corporate and educational documents including project reports, procedures and employee training programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee.

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