The Perfect HR Manager

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As the HR function transforms, so does the standard of what it entails to be an effective HR manager. Being an HR manager often involves soft skills, such as the ability to mentor and be a sounding board for employee concerns. Now, with the implementation of shared services lifting away much of the transactional burden, HR professionals are expected to perform as a strategic business partner to the organization.

There is a changing landscape and a new set of expectations for HR leaders. HRIQ readers weigh in on the question: What do you think makes an effective HR manager?

Tom Bolt, SPHR, GPHR

"HR partners must have an in-depth understanding of the business they support. Stakeholders within the company will respect HR if it shares the common goals of the business. Executives need to be able to tell that there is a definite value added to the bottom line by having an effective mechanism to manage human capital. Managers need to rely on HR to assist them to reach business objectives, and employees need to trust that HR truly understands what they do. All other HR functional qualities are made more efficient by tailoring to specific business needs."

Francisco Laborde, ITESM Professor

"An effective HR manager should be a key member of the leadership team. Let's take a couple of steps back, and focus on the leadership team. The leaders should:

1. Establish a shared and relevant vision
2. State the goals to drive the organization towards the vision.
3. Build an environment where every individual in the organization can fully collaborate to achieve the goals.

Somebody has to build and maintain that environment where people share the vision, know the goals, understand their roles, and can take full responsibility for their actions. I guess the HR manager would be a good choice."

Neddy Perez, Vice President, Inclusion & Diversity

"They need to understand the corporate and line of business strategy in order to be able to coach and advise the business leaders on succession planning, people development and recruitment."

Sanjeev Nawani, Business Excellence and Change Management Professional at Barclays

"An effective HR manager should have good understanding of business, its challenges and its impact in a local and global market. They should align themselves to all the stakeholders and draw out a clear expectation roadmap for short and long term. They should be good at communication and should communicate business and stakeholder voices to a larger audience. They should understand how to draw conclusions from data and information to share it in a timely manner with key business decision makers.

The HR manager should be a well-spoken person with a positive tone, a welcoming nature, and a willingness to help employees."

Nuria Gonzalez-Martin, HR Director

"There are many key skills and [sets of ]knowledge that HR managers should posses, which are invaluable to our position and the company. As an operational HR Director, I need to be able to listen and understand our clients' needs whilst taking into account employee needs, current culture of the organization, local legislation and, finally, commercial obligations. With this in mind, effective and adding value processes/actions can take place and be developed. Above all, HR must be fair and consistent. Without effective people management, no strategy can be realized."

Renee Larsen, Human Resources Compliance Manager

"The most important quality in an effective HR manager would have to be having a solid foundation as an HR professional in the laws, requirements and HR best practices. Being a good leader is knowing your stuff and setting an example.

The second most important is being approachable by your staff at all times, having a listening ear and being supportive-- even if you are in a position where you are unable to act at that given moment.

Giving employees the opportunity to speak and feel valued goes miles in gaining their support when it's needed, and working collaboratively to make things come to fruition together when possible."

Ananda Kishore Roy, HR Head, India Operations

"She should be extremely visible - free to be approached by all the members within the organization. And for this, she would need to be equipped with top class communication, interpersonal and problem solving skills. The rest of the stuff could possibly be learned along the way."

David Grossman, Staffing & Recruiting Expert

"A couple of folks have mentioned 'understanding the business.' I agree, yet it's ironic because lots of HR people have no interest in really understanding the business...that's not why they chose HR.

I'll add one more idea: the willingness (read: guts) to tell disruptive employees and disruptive managers something like, 'What's wrong with you? Knock it off! Otherwise you can't work here.' I'm still waiting for that brave HR manager - you'll be my hero!"

Conducted by Alexandra Guadagno, Editor for Human Resources iQ.