The Qualities of a Great HR Manager

Whether or not your business has a dedicated HR Manager, there are three activities that are of vital importance and will determine success in this role. These are hiring the right people, managing staff performance and appraisals and ensuring that terminations are handled properly. These are the key activities where the quality of the HR Manager must shine.

Hiring The Right People

The main difficulty with hiring the best people is to discover the true nature of the applicants. Some candidates can make themselves appear to be very desirable indeed. Their CV reads really well and they say all the right things in the interview. A good HR Manager needs to be able to see through this PR posturing.

To get the right focus:

  • Target your job ads at top performers by focussing the ads on the challenge of the job, not the perks and benefits involved. Throw the gauntlet down! Dare them to apply for something that is a really tough call. You will be surprised who will respond to this sort of ad. You see, if someone is doing really well elsewhere, but is now looking for something with more meat in it, this is what they will respond to
  • As part of the elimination process, find out what each candidate has achieved in their previous jobs. Do they actually have a proven record of results? Get them to show you the results they have achieved before. If they are any good, they will have very specific data on this
  • When you do your reference checks, focus them on what the applicant actually achieved under that previous manager. Do not get into what the referee thinks of the candidate; that is purely opinion. Get the previous manager to verify the candidate’s performance statistics. He said that he increased his market share last year by 4 per cent, but did he?

Managing Employee Performance And Appraisal

This is usually the job of the employee’s immediate manager, not the HR Manager. But the HR Manager (or whoever is wearing that hat) needs to give some guidance to the other managers on how performance should be handled.

The quality of the HR Manager shows through when he or she makes sure that each employee is measured correctly. Performance should be measured (and appraised) based on statistical results; not on opinion. A sales person should not be rated highly because her boss’s opinion is that “she did a good job”. It should be because she over-achieved specific sales results.

The key elements involved with ensuring that this is handled correctly include:

  • Setting precise goals and objectives for each job; goals that the employee understands and agrees with
  • Monitoring the achievement against those goals by measuring the actual results; the production statistics
  • Giving regular feedback to employees as to how they are doing against their targets. There should be no surprises along the way
  • Delivering some form of final appraisal that summarises their performance over the measurement period.

Handling Terminations

Once again, it is the employee’s immediate manager who should be making the decision about terminating their employment. The quality of the HR Manager here is to do with how the termination process is carried out.

Terminations occur because of one of the following:

  1. The company is downsizing. The HR Manager will shine here if they make sure that full details of the situation are made available to all staff. Failing this, rumours will tear the place apart and this will affect the production capability of those who remain
  2. The employee has done something unethical or illegal. Thinking ahead is the quality that is applicable here. The HR Manager needs to make sure that employment contracts cover this area so they know where the line is drawn that they must not step over
  3. The performance of the employee is not good enough. Firing people based on the opinion that they are not performing is not justifiable. The HR Manager must ensure that performance measurement is in place. When performance is poor, the employee needs to know they are on notice. Based on actual results from then on, their final termination should be seen (by all) as the only possible final solution.

The quality of a good HR Manager is in making sure that the best possible infrastructure and culture exits, so that employees are managed well by all.

Neil Clark has spent 30 years as a manager in both large and small organisations in Australia and South East Asia. He can be contacted via www.performancemanagement-made-easy.com, where more articles of this type can also be viewed.

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