What Skills Are Needed to Become a Human Resource Manager?

The career path of HR managers often begins in a general HR position.
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The career path of HR managers often begins in a general HR position.

Most organizations maintain a human resources department, or at least a human resources manager position. The HR manager juggles many roles including oversight of policies, employee relations and benefit programs, and she serves as the link between employer and employees. The skills needed to become an HR manager are varied, and they can be obtained through hands-on experience and higher education.

Interpersonal Skills

Successful HR managers must have strong interpersonal skills. In a role that requires constantly working with employees at all levels, you must be able to relate and communicate effectively with them. HR managers must assess employee relations with confidentiality, neutrality and sensitivity. They also must have the necessary people skills to conduct interviews, train staff, provide orientation, conduct performance reviews and handle employee issues. The best HR managers are accessible and fair, and they respect employee confidentiality.

Problem-Solving Skills

As an HR manager, you will often serve as the link between employer and employee. You must also be an impartial mediator when problems arise between employees, including an employee and her supervisor. Your role is to listen to all sides of the conflict, remain neutral, maintain confidentiality, and suggest and facilitate resolution. HR managers may be creative in problem resolution but must escalate issues that violate federal laws pertaining to civil rights, privacy and employment to company management and the appropriate state and federal oversight organizations.

Benefits Administration Knowledge

The human resources department manages employee benefits. The HR manager is typically involved in the selection of vendors for health, dental and vision insurance, retirement plans, payroll administration and third-party benefits administrators. To effectively manage benefits programs and communicate their details to employees, the HR manager must have a solid understanding of benefits administration. The HR manager also must understand how regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, COBRA and Worker’s Compensation apply to employers and staff.

Education and Certification

Many of the skills required for the HR manager position are learned through schooling and certification. At a minimum, HR managers will have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, though many have advanced degrees. Additionally, certification from the HR Certification Institute, including the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designations are common in the field. Both advanced education and certification allow you a greater selection of job opportunities and higher pay.

2016 Salary Information for Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers earned a median annual salary of $106,910 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, human resources managers earned a 25th percentile salary of $80,800, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $145,220, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 136,100 people were employed in the U.S. as human resources managers.

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