HR managers are more than just hiring and firing – they are critical business leaders that should help to shape and drive your company’s future. Which also means that HR managers should have more than just a qualification – your HR manager should also have the competencies for success.

The top HR manager competencies

The remit of an HR manager is never-ending – from attracting talent and resolving grievances, to creating a culture and developing your next leaders. Being successful at all of their tasks requires more than just good organizational skills (although that helps). To be truly successful, your HR manager should have the following competencies:

1. Communication and interpersonal skills

At the heart of any HR manager’s role is communication. They need to work with people from across the business, regardless of seniority, culture, gender, age, or any other characteristics. You HR manager should demonstrate outstanding interpersonal and communication skills – where they can influence the board just as easy as they can mediate employee conflict.

2. Leadership

HR managers need to not only lead their own team but lead the business as a whole. Leadership skills are crucial for building relationships, coaching and developing employees, and guiding the company through organizational challenges and change. Crucially, employees must be able to respect your HR manager as a leader, while still feeling confident enough to confide in them their problems.

3. Strategic thinking

Your HR manager should be able to complement and enhance the company’s strategic direction in everything they do. Accordingly, they need to understand how the organization works and how to develop a competitive advantage through people and their performance – developing complementary hiring, development, and retention strategies.

4. Critical thinking

It’s also important for an HR manager to be able to think critically. No day in HR is every the same – different problems, situations, challenges, and people arise daily. Critical thinking enables your HR manager to balance complex situations and find a solution that combines processes, logic, and out-of-the-box thinking.

5. HR champion

Perhaps most important of all, your HR manager should constantly champion the discipline of HR and its importance for driving the business forward. They need to convince the board of the importance of employee engagement, win over finance for their training budget, inject company culture into everyone, and make your company a place of performance, reward, and fun.

How to screen for HR competencies

Knowing these competencies is one thing, identifying them in potential HR candidates is another. When beginning your next HR manager recruitment campaign, be sure to:


HR managers don’t wear capes – but they really should. A role that involves everything, everyone, and responsibility for the company’s success requires much more than just an HR qualification – it requires skills, competencies, and a personality that can handle it well.

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick