Chapter 1: The Role of Human Resource Management

1.2 Skills Needed for HRM

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to

  1. Explain the professional and personal skills needed to be successful in HRM.
  2. Define HRM and the certifications that can be achieved in this profession.

A characteristic of a successful manager or human resource (HR) manager is an array of skills to deal with a variety of situations. It simply isn’t enough to have knowledge of HR, such as knowing which forms need to be filled out. It takes multiple skills to create and manage people, as well as a cutting-edge HR department.

The first skill needed is organization. The need for this skill makes sense given that you are managing people’s pay, benefits, and careers. Having organized files on your computer and good time-management skills are crucial for success in any job, but especially if you take on a role in HR.

As trite as it may sound, people skills is necessary in any type of management position and perhaps might be the most important skill for achieving success at any job. Being able to manage a variety of personalities, deal with conflict, and coach others are all in the realm of people management. The ability to communicate goes along with people skills. The ability to communicate good news (hiring a new employee), bad news (layoffs), and everything in between, such as changes to policy, makes for an excellent manager and human resource management (HRM) professional.

Keys to a successful career in HRM or management include understanding specific job areas (such as managing the employee database), understanding employment laws, and knowing how to write and develop a strategic plan that aligns with the business. All these skills will be discussed in this book.

A strategic mindset as an HR professional is a key skill as well. A person with a strategic mindset can plan far in advance and look at trends that could affect the environment in which the business is operating. Too often, managers focus on their own area and not enough on the business as a whole. Strategic HR professionals are able to not only work within their area, but also understand how HR fits into the bigger picture of the business.

Ethics and a sense of fairness are also necessary in HR. Ethics is a concept that examines the moral rights and wrongs of a certain situation. Consider the fact that many HR managers negotiate salary and union contracts and manage conflict. In addition, HR managers have the task of ensuring compliance with ethics standards within the organization. Many HR managers are required to work with highly confidential information, such as salary information, so a sense of ethics when managing this information is essential.

Human Resource Recall

Think of your current skills. Are there personal or professional skills you would like to work on?

Finally, while we can list a few skills that are important, understanding the particular business, knowing the business strategy, and being able to think critically about how HR can align itself with the strategy are ways to ensure HR departments are critical parts of the business. HR is a specialized area, much like accounting or finance. However, many individuals are placed in HR roles without having the specific knowledge to do the job. Often, people with excellent skills are promoted to management and then expected (if the company is small) to perform recruiting, hiring, and compensation tasks. This is why we will refer to management and HR management interchangeably throughout the chapters , as these skills are important for HRM professionals and managers alike. Having said that, for those of you wanting a career in HRM, the Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) ( designation is a way to demonstrate your mastery of HRM material. Other specialty certifications also exist: the Canadian Registered Safety Professional designation (, Certified Payroll Manager (, and Registered Professional Recruiter ( are three of the most well known specialties in Canada. In addition to demonstrating the abilities of an HR professional, certification allows the professional to be more marketable in a very competitive field.

Most companies need an HR department or a manager with HR skills. The industries and job titles are so varied that it is possible only to list general job titles in human resources:

  • Benefits manager
  • Classification officer
  • Compensation analyst
  • Disability case manager
  • Employee relations manager
  • Human resources assistant
  • Human resources manager
  • Industrial relations manager
  • Recruiter
  • Training and development manager

This is not an exhaustive list, but it can be a starting point for research on this career path.

Key Takeaways

  • There are a number of skills crucial to HRM. In this job, files must be managed, and an HR manager is constantly working in different areas of the business.
  • Communication skills are necessary in HRM as well. The ability to present good and bad news, work with a variety of personalities, and coach employees is important in HRM.
  • Specific job skills, such as computer skills, knowledge of employment law, the ability to write and developing strategic plans, and general critical-thinking skills are important in any type of management, but especially in HRM.
  • HR manages need a sense of fairness and strong ethics. Because HR works with a variety of departments to manage conflict and negotiate union contracts and salary, HR professionals need ethics skills and the ability to maintain confidentiality.
  • Since one of the major responsibilities of an HR department is to align the HR strategic plan with the business strategic plan, critical and creative thinking, as well as writing, are skills that will benefit HR managers.
  • Many people find themselves in the role of an HR manager, so we will use the term HR manager throughout this book. However, many other types of managers also perform the tasks of recruiting, selecting, and compensating, making this book and the skills listed in this section applicable to all people interested in management.
  • Certifications may make you more marketable in the field of HRM.


  1. What are your perceptions of what an HR manager does on a day-to-day basis? Research this job title and describe your findings. Is this the type of job you expected?


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Introduction to Human Resource Management - First Canadian Edition Copyright © 2017 by Zelda Craig and College of New Caledonia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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