What Does a Director of People Do?

The Director of People maintains employee relations and cultivates a culture that promotes productivity, creativity, innovation, and growth within your organization. They help improve the quality of the workplace environment and take a people-centric approach to their duties. Additionally, they help ensure that an organization has satisfied employees and robust talent management.

Since the role extensively deals with people, you must possess excellent interpersonal skills and extensive professional experience working with cross-functional teams. Additionally, the Director of People will need solid management skills like an HR director.

Since it is still a new role that is gaining popularity among companies from different industries, the responsibilities of a Director of People may be hard to grasp. Therefore, if you wish to train and become one yourself, you should first understand the role in detail and observe its uniqueness from other human resources roles.

This article takes you through the responsibilities of a Director of people, the difference between the role and other professional HR positions, and what responsibilities they handle. If you’re interested in learning more via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

The Director of People Role

The name of the position suggests that the Director of People must be similar to traditional human resources roles. However, this position occurs in companies with a ‘People Operations’ (PeopleOps) department along with the conventional HR.

Therefore, while many responsibilities overlap, there are few fundamental differences between the departments and their respective roles. It is crucial to understand this difference to grasp the nature of the Director of People position.

People Operations vs. HR

The difference between HR and people operations is that HR has traditionally been focused on internal matters while people operations have taken a more holistic view of the company’s needs. Historically, organizations assigned responsibilities for these areas separately but now have merged both departments into one called “People” in recent years. The Director of People is the head position of this new division.

The Director of People handles many more matters than just traditional HR responsibilities. For example, they work in close collaboration with business partners within an organization and formulate People strategies that help deliver on company expectations while also satisfying employees. The role is pretty data-driven and analyzing metrics is a huge part of it.

The HR manager is the nearest equivalent of the Director of people position within the conventional human resources structure. Both roles are leadership-intensive and overlook all daily workings such as hiring, culture, and employee support. Comparing both parts helps further explain the Director of People role’s nature.

Director of People Operations vs. Human Resources Managers

The HR Manager’s job is to monitor company policies, handle employee relations and maintain a healthy workplace. On the other hand, the Director of People focuses on attracting talent to fill positions that exist or need filling in the future.

Both roles know how vital good relationships between coworkers can be and implement plans to encourage that. However, an organization’s Director of People Operations handle’s the workplace’s overall well-being and calmness while the HR manager focuses on the human resources department.

While the Director of People isn’t a conventional HR job, it still requires significant expertise over important human resources concepts. Therefore, if you wish to occupy this dynamic new position, you should pursue our quality HR certifications at HR University.

Human Resources Certifications

Responsibilities of the Director of People

Since it is still a new and upcoming role, different organizations define and establish the Director of People position differently. However, the People Operations approach is relatively similar across all such organizations, resulting in every Director of People role having a standard set of responsibilities.

Some of the essential duties of a Director of People are described below:

Ensure Satisfaction Across Organization

As the Director of People, your core mission is to make sure all staff members are happy and create a productive environment. In addition, you will need to provide support in matters including benefits planning, retirement plans, or insurance coverage for staff members’ families.

The Director of People is an essential voice in the organization’s talent strategy. They help formulate plans to utilize the workforce and its talents best.

Manage the Hiring Processes

As a critical person in human resources, the Director of People is in charge of important hiring matters such as interviewing candidates for open positions, creating the job alert, and screening them for qualifications. Additionally, they have to manage benefits like retirement plans or insurance coverage for new and existing staff members and their families.

However, there’s more to the position of a DOP than just being able to hire the right person for the job. The role includes coaching new hires on workplace dynamics and how-tos so they feel like an integral part of the organization from day one and contribute productively.

Handle Employee Management

As a leader and the Director of People, it is their job to assess people and guide them on a path that makes their life easy and professional goals achievable. In addition, the Director must recognize employees’ efforts and encourage a culture of appreciation. The Director of People also has to provide training on company policy, coordinate the staffing schedule, help with benefits plan development, and develop efficient work schedules.

The Director is also in charge of all dealings with external vendors, such as talent recruitment agencies, employment specialists, or temporary help providers who provide staff members to supplement your workforce needs during peak periods like seasonal rushes.


As a director of people, you are responsible for developing and implementing strategies to attract, develop, motivate and retain top talent. You will be working with senior leadership on constantly improving the company’s talent management strategy. In addition to your HR duties, you’ll also need to understand how employees’ minds work to create successful employee engagement programs that build trust between management and staff members.

If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a Director Of People role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft an excellent HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy that lands you a sought-after Chief Human Resources Officer job.