HR Managers have one of the most unique and important jobs within the company. Their responsibilities are nearly endless, and there is often not a clear link between the tasks they complete each day. It’s a job responsible for people, processes, culture, organizational structure, misconduct, benefits, and so much more. HR managers must be organized, patient, task-oriented, and driven. They must not shy away from monotony, minutia, mayhem, or misbehavior. The work they do is often overlooked and underappreciated. Being a great HR manager is not easy. The field of Human Resources is in need of talented, energetic people to take on the challenge. If you’re considering a career in HR, or are already neck deep in it, then you’ll want to focus on these five essential responsibilities of a great HR manager.
1. Hire Great People
It’s in the job title. One of the most critical responsibilities of a human resources manager is to fill your company with great humans. In an article written for Forbes, Ekaterina Walter says that “your company is truly only as great as the people who embody the mission of your organization.” Without great people, you cannot have a great company.
So, what can you do to hire great people?
The first thing you might consider doing is evaluating your job descriptions. Many HR and hiring managers fail to realize that the job description is like an advertisement. The goal of the description is to get talented people excited about what’s happening in your company and convince them to want to join. Too many companies simply copy-and-paste a job description with little thought or effort about its contents. Writing a great job description is the most underrated part of the hiring process and can be a differentiator for companies that take the time to do it well.
Second, get an understanding of what great candidates are expecting in terms of pay and benefits. If you’re not competitive with compensation, you’ll likely be unable to attract elite talent.
Third, do you have training programs, mentorship opportunities, and career progression plans in place so that younger or more inexperienced candidates can level up over time?
Finally, does your hiring process match the expectations of the modern job applicant? Are you quick to communicate, transparent in your process, and clear in your objective? Improving your hiring process can help you land better employees.
We help companies turn their hiring process into a competitive advantage.
2. Enhance the Employee Experience
Once you bring great people in the door, it’s critical that they have a great experience. Great HR managers spend a lot of time thinking about ways to improve the experience for each employee in the company.
Employee experience begins immediately. Once a job candidate has accepted an offer to work at your company, the onboarding process begins. Employee onboarding plays a pivotal role in an employee’s decision to stay with the company long-term. When onboarding goes well, it can improve retention by 82%. When it goes poorly, you’ll see turnover, and you’ll see it fast. Over 20% of employee turnover takes place within 45 days of the hire date.
Of course, the employee experience goes far beyond the onboarding process. Once an employee is more or less “settled in” to their job, they’ll need incentives to keep them performing at a high level. Performance incentives can be compensation in the form of bonuses or stock options, they can be rewards or perks that are unlocked when goals are hit, or they can simply be praise and recognition from peers and upper management. Whatever it is, make sure to enhance the employee experience by rewarding great work.
Company culture is another huge part of the employee experience. How do employees feel when they’re in the office? Do they have a friend at work? Do the company’s expectations align with the employee’s reality? Do employees understand the mission of what the company is trying to achieve?
Remember, company culture isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. As an HR manager, you’ll share in the responsibility of creating a culture that is inviting, inclusive, and enjoyable. You’ll work hard to create a place where employees enjoy spending time and where they look forward to coming to work.
3. Create Replicable Processes
So much of HR is creating and maintaining replicable processes that will streamline much of your work. It’s no secret that the HR profession is full of tasks that are constantly repeated. Things like running payroll, managing time-off balances, making new hires, terminating employees, and tracking performance should all have defined processes.
The quicker you can define these processes the better. Until processes are clearly defined and written down so that others can follow them, you’ll be running your department in a state of organized chaos. You might have an idea of exactly what to do and how to do it, but if other people in the company don’t understand the processes, things will fall apart.
Predictable, replicable processes allow your organization to run smoothly even when you’re not in the office. If you continually hesitate to take a vacation because you’re worried about payroll or about properly onboarding the company’s new hires, you’ll quickly become frustrated. The way great HR managers solve this is by creating clear, concise, easy-to-follow instructions so that someone can take over when you’re not around.
4. Show a Commitment to Ethics
HR managers find themselves in an interesting position. They work for the company and often report to the executive team, but they are primarily an advocate for the employees. Great HR managers earn the trust of employees by keeping the company honest, calling out inappropriate behavior, and acting as a moral compass when it comes to decisions regarding employee salary, benefits, schedules, and more.
Another area where ethics comes into play is the disclosure of confidential information. HR managers will often have full access to employee information, which includes things like addresses, salaries, social security numbers, and more. This information is extremely sensitive and cannot be shared casually or without a specific cause. Keeping confidential information confidential should be a top priority for great HR managers. If you are careless or slothful in protecting sensitive employee information, you’ll immediately lose the trust of your organization.
Additionally, you will find yourself as the main point of contact for employees who have either misbehaved, or who have had someone mistreat them. In either case, what you do with this information is important.
In cases where an employee needs to be disciplined for improper behavior, make sure you follow protocols for warnings, punishments, and in some cases, termination. Handle the situation with professionalism and be ethical and honest in your reports.
In the case where an employee has been mistreated, be sure to conduct a thorough investigation so that you know all the facts. Get every side of the story. Talk to potential witnesses or others who may have information. Do not share any information that doesn’t need to be public, and be sure to respect the employee’s privacy throughout the process. If there are serious acquisitions against certain employees, you cannot bury these in a file or fail to report them. Take the actions necessary to appropriately sound the alarm. Be an advocate for those who may not speak up for themselves.
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5. Be a Leader
Being a great HR manager means taking a leadership role within the company. Employees will look to you to be an example. You cannot only “talk the talk”, but you’ll also have to “walk the walk.”
One area where you’ll be able to stand out is strategic leadership. Many companies are now expecting a shift toward strategic HR, and you can be on the front lines of this movement.
Strategic HR goes beyond the completion of daily tasks and common to-dos. You’ll need to find time to break free from your day-to-day responsibilities and spend time focusing on the big picture. It’s your job to think about the long-term aims and interests of the business and how the HR department can be involved in achieving those goals.
The second area of leadership that will require your attention is culture. Company culture must be intentional and will need constant attention to steer it in the right direction. Employees will need reminders on the company’s mission and vision, the company’s core values, and how to act. A great HR manager will often be the voice to remind and the example to follow.
Finally, it’s important to remember that leaders are nothing without people to follow them. At the beginning of this piece, we briefly discussed the many responsibilities of an HR manager. There will be so much for you to do. You will feel the weight of all the tasks on your shoulders. You’ll have days that don’t go smoothly. You’ll have forgetful moments when something important slips through the cracks. Because of this, we recommend that you don’t go at it alone.
As a leader, you need to build a team around you to lift you up when times get tough. This team might consist of people in the HR department that you hire yourself, or it might be made up of employees in other departments that you know and trust. Whatever it is, build that team. Have people who you can call on when things aren’t going your way. Have people who can step in and help when you’re overwhelmed. You’ll need them.
Whether you’re currently working in HR or you aspire to one day be an HR manager, we hope this is a helpful guide to understanding the five essential responsibilities of your profession. Of course, there are probably many things that could be added to this list, but we believe it’s a great place to start. If you can master these five things, you’ll be on your way to becoming a great HR manager and truly making a difference in your organization.