5 Characteristics That Truly Set Great HR Managers Apart


Recruitment and employee development are the crucial tasks of the Human Resources department. As a means to ensure that the right people with suitable skills and talents contribute to the company’s business goals and objectives, these functions contribute to the long-term success of an enterprise. To do this right, a company needs to have a competent HR department aided by the latest technology, guided by the right strategies and best practices, and led by the right person.

That person is the HR manager. While it’s easy to say that managers need the typical set of leadership skills, empathy, passion, experience and other qualities, it’s better to seek out specific qualities that match the requirements of the position. What qualities set great HR managers from mediocre ones? Here are a few key characteristics and qualities.

Focused on relationships

Yes, the recruitment and employee development strategies should be geared to take the company to the next level. Processes and strategies aside, however, at its core, the HR manager’s role is to focus on creating better relationships within the organisation. It’s more about fostering good working attitudes and training people for the skills they need to develop to better perform their jobs. While a systematic and goal-oriented internal structure could indeed work in creating better employees, the human element should still be a central consideration for long-term growth. Otherwise, why bother with humans when you can opt for robotics for efficiency?

Always asks why

Great HR managers seek to understand. Emotions, egos, behavior, attitudes and habits are difficult things to monitor and manage. Since they’re neck-deep in the unpredictable human element of the business, HR managers need to be curious and genuinely interested in solving problems where direct logic doesn’t always apply.

Problem solving often starts with the innate drive to understand and solve problem areas in the business. They need to dig deeper instead of just reacting to the problem. Great HR managers often ask questions such as:

  • “Why is the current recruitment program not working?”;

  • “Why is the employee retention rate dwindling?”;

  • “Why is productivity decreasing?”; and more.

The company culture is often associated to the internal structures, behaviours, norms, values and relationships within the organisation. While the company culture could develop autonomously and without direct or indirect input from the HR department, having some sort of influence over it can have positive results.

Why? Many studies show that company culture has a direct link to business success. After all, company culture influences employee engagement, productivity and efficiency, morale, unified vision and other factors. Therefore, for your business’s sake, find an HR manager who understands your company culture and knows how to direct it for your company’s advantage.

Recognises talent and knows how to push people just past their comfort zones

Great HR managers don’t look at what they have accomplished when evaluating themselves. Instead, they see their success in the success of the employees they hired, supported and trained. The HR department is essentially about finding the best people and pushing them to reach their personal goals while simultaneously furthering the company’s business goals. It’s all about pushing people just past their comfort zones by letting them know that you are behind them every step of the way.

Can multitask without losing sight of the important stuff

In between constantly scoping out talents and resources wherever they may be, creating programs to boost employee engagement and designing training and development opportunities to increase employee competency, HR managers are constantly busy. Find people who can handle the pressure and still find ways to improve existing practices and systems. Truly capable HR managers can do everything while never losing sight of the company’s goals and objectives.


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Topics: Operations, Human Resources