6 Qualities of Great HR Managers (& How to Hire for Them)

Human resources departments are the backbone of any company: they oversee hiring and firing, they reward employees for good behavior and chastise them for infringements, they make decisions regarding benefits, regulations, and policies. Though outstanding HR managers can come from many different backgrounds and use various management strategies, there are a several characteristics that the best HR managers often have in common.

1. Fairness

In a position that manages things like hiring, firing, salaries, and employee conflicts, objectivity is crucial. Favoritism or subjectivity can create an environment where employees are rewarded or punished based on factors other than performance, demoralizing workers and lowering productivity.

2. Adaptability

Since HR managers have so many different tasks to perform, it’s essential that they are able to tackle whatever new assignment comes their way. They’re often great at multitasking and very adaptable in different situations, easily conversing with employees about benefits or managers about performance.

3. Interpersonal Skills

HR managers are compassionate to employee concerns, yet firm when upholding company policy. They should be good listeners to their employees while also being excellent speakers and negotiators. Since HR managers regularly meet with employees, host office seminars, and lead new hire orientations, communication skills are a must.

4. Leadership

If an HR manager lets employees push them around, a workplace can quickly become a place where employees are rewarded for their coercion abilities instead of the quality of their work. Being an HR manager involves making difficult decisions, coping with lots of gray areas, and resolving the concerns of employees. The best HR managers understand the needs of their employees and how to lead them with grace.

5. Integrity

As HR managers are tasked with processing confidential paperwork and helping to resolve private concerns, it is crucial that they have the moral standards to handle the situation fairly and not disclose confidential information. If an HR manager is found to have made a subjective decision or released private information, it can make employees distrustful of their HR department, and it can even put the entire company at risk of a lawsuit.

6. Attention to Detail

The last (but definitely not least) quality that great HR managers almost always possess is their attention to detail. Paperwork is an unavoidable part of any human resources job (or at least the work is – the paper is not!). Mistakes can be costly, so great HR managers take the time to make sure that all company documents are completely accurate. Furthermore, HR managers should be very precise in understanding and upholding company policies. By being consistent and resolute about company rules, great HR managers can prevent an office culture of unfairness and even prevent lawsuits over inequality or favoritism.

Fortunately, when hiring for HR manager positions, there are other ways to determine which applicants possess these qualities besides just gut feeling.  Personality tests, for instance, can evaluate a candidate’s personality fit that particular role. Interview questions can also be tailored to assess the soft skills that are most important for HR managers. If you need inspiration, check out the three questions Criteria Corp CEO Josh Millet asks every candidate, or the ten questions Glassdoor recommends asking potential HR managers.