Q: What is one quality an internal HR manager must have in spades, and why?
Approachability. “HR managers have the very difficult task of implementing policies and keeping the workplace safe for all employees, and they can’t be effective if they’re unapproachable. A manager should have an open door policy, the ability to listen and encourage honesty and never, ever be found gossiping about the company or its employees. It takes some time to build up this trust, but it is invaluable.” Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
Honesty. “HR Managers have to protect both the company and its employees at all times, and that means being honest, compassionate and fair. They have to understand how to treat people fairly but also in line with company policies, and that means being a good person above all. If there’s a sensitive problem that requires confidentiality, employees and managers need to trust that they can go to someone ethical.” Jared Brown, Hubstaff
Patience. “People are going to screw up over and over and over. You’re going to have multiple people with the same problem. If you aren’t a patient person you’re not cut out for HR. You will also have to be patient when listening to people to figure out what the true problem is and try to help them solve it.” Peter Daisyme, Hostt
Detail oriented. “Being an HR manager at a startup is an overwhelming position. Often this role doubles as office manager and receptionist, adding unfair distractions to a very important role. As such, it’s critical that he or she have a bullet-proof task system in place. Whether it’s checklists, Evernotes, calendar reminders, or simply an iron-clad memory, your internal HR manager must be able to juggle it all.” Ryan Buckley, Scripted, Inc.
Communicative. “A company’s brand is its business card, and its culture is its handshake. A company’s culture is a social contract layered on the foundation of basic HR policy. HR managers must be able to effectively onboard and integrate employees into company culture and tactfully reinforce policies and norms while advocating for both employees and the company.” Jason Kulpa, Underground Elephant
Empathetic. “To empathize with someone is to fully understand their situation and where they are coming from. HR management is all about understanding, relating to and working with people. They are evangelists of the culture and help build a community.” Randy Rayess, VenturePact
Trustworthy. “Employees are quick to sniff out an HR manager who truly cares about them and will keep the things they say in a safe place. It’s important for an HR manager to be able to keep secrets, too. Not everything is supposed to be said all of the time.” Elliot Bohm, CardCash.com
Attentive. “An HR manager is an important position, but the tasks can be checkbox-oriented. Check it off the list and go home. Human Resources is very important, but can also sometimes not treat people as people. HR Managers shouldn’t exclusively hide behind standard operating procedure and policy. Judge every situation uniquely. More importantly, treat people as human beings, not as names on a roster list.” Adam Stillman, SparkReel
Tough. “A common stereotype of an HR manager is that they have to be empathetic, soft-hearted and kind. While these are indeed great qualities, the ideal HR manager also needs to be tough, forward and strong. Doormats get taken advantage of. As the company peacemaker and port of entry for most new hires, HR managers need to be friendly yet firm and authoritative.” Firas Kittaneh, AstraBeds
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