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What Does a New HR Manager Need to Know?

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A human resources manager must balance competing demands from managers and employees, but you don't work solely for either group. Focus on implementing employee programs authorized by the business owner when you're a new manager. Once you get to know your job, you can recommend ways to make working conditions better, such as eliminating redundant work and adding more benefits and perks for workers.

Business Model

Start out by learning the business owner's values. Some businesses are built with a primary focus on turning a profit; there is little concern for building employee programs. Other businesses are built with an emphasis on developing employees as human capital; programs are selected for their potential to improve human performance and increase profits. Many business owners fall somewhere between these two philosophies. Talk with the business owner about the management approach to HR and examine employee programs to get a better sense of the business model.


You are an important asset to the business owner for your knowledge of employment law and for your understanding of getting employees to perform better. Read the employee manual and learn the policies and procedures that govern employment practices, including policies on recruitment and selection, performance management, employee discipline, benefits, attendance and ethics. Start a dialogue with management about improving policies and procedures, but prioritize the HR agenda. The code of ethics might be less pressing than the need to hire more qualified help through better recruitment practices.

Strategic Performance Management

Get the details on how human performance is managed. Study the processes used to track employees' work output. Some businesses have employees who are given a lot of autonomy to do their work, and they are evaluated generally for doing their jobs well. Other businesses have detailed job descriptions, and employees are held accountable for completing specific goals. Talking with employees about their work can reveal if job descriptions are irrelevant and need to be updated. Determine if the goals being measured are actually contributing to the company's bottom line.


Some small businesses could benefit from automating HR tasks. From typing employee job descriptions and storing them in a database to having employees update their contact information in the employee directory, the use of computers can save a lot of time. Start with the payroll system and suggest a third-party service or a payroll software solution. Then work on managing employee records and benefit administration. The more you can enter information into a computer system once and reference it later, or even better, scan information and have the computer mine pieces of data and add them to your employee database, the more time you can spend on improving employee training and performance.