Essential Director of People Skills 2022

Looking to master director of people’s skills to excel at your career? This article provides a brief on the most essential skills for a director of people’s role.

You must have experience and a refined skillset, as the director of people’s position comes with various responsibilities that range from acquiring the people management skills of the HR department to managing the entire organization’s employees in a big picture.

The role of the director of people requires a candidate with expertise in HR Laws and Regulations, with a minimum HR experience of 10 years, along with other necessary academic qualifications.

Their principal duties include maintaining a positive culture, managing employee experience, and increasing productivity. Employees are important assets for company performance and most companies must have a skilled director of people who works towards creating a positive work experience for the employees, motivates them to deliver on the company’s strategic goals, and exhibits great people management skills.

In this guide, we will look through essential skills for a director of people’s role.

1. Technical Skills

There are strict expectations for such senior roles like the director of people. As a director of people is responsible for planning, leading, overseeing, and coordinating the employee activities, thus they must be tech-savvy. A director of people is responsible for bringing employees under one roof, on one page, thus they must be handy with the technical skills involved in this senior role. The basic technical skills required by a director of people are:

  • Digital literacy. A director of people must be aware of how digital analysis and work management platforms work. Leveraging such tools not just eases their day-to-day tasks, but also provides a chance to integrate various autonomous tools for the automation of tasks like basic administration and employee data entries. Digital literacy also enhances one’s people management skills and improves the management style. Thus, good managers and directors must have digital proficiency with soft skills and tech tools.
  • Data management and analytics. It is clear that a director of people has to manage employees of an HR department, but sometimes the scope of their duties is spread for the whole organization. Thus, they must be aware of technology tools that allow easy management of employee data along with features to observe the detailed analytics these data provides. In addition to that, a director of people should be able to efficiently collect data associated with the organizational operations so they can analyze the data to note potential trends, and thus can report the final findings to seniors and executives. In short, they must exhibit exceptional people management skills for professional development.

Although the role is not much technical, a director of people can make use of tech tools to serve even better and in the best favor of their organization for professional development.

2. Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal skills are the most fundamental yet crucial skills for a director of people’s role. In addition to that, interpersonal skills help the director of people in maintaining employee relations and cultivating such norms that promote employee productivity, growth, and innovation in your organization. As a director of people has to work with cross-functional team members, thus below mentioned interpersonal skills are must-have traits for this role:

Responsibilities of Director of People

  • Active Listening. A director of people should listen to understand the employee’s perspectives and their queries and concerns. Active listening allows you to pay attention to the opposite’s conversation and learn from their thought process. Active listening promotes employee engagement and thus leads to a productive work environment.
  • Selflessness. Your employees will trust you, even more, when they will realize that you are there not to pursue your career but to work for them and the organization. This is the trait of selflessness, which means that you should value the employees under your supervision, and benefit them through incentives offered by the organization. Sometimes, you can also plan regular one to ones sessions with your coworkers to make them know that they matter and are valued. Such practices result in developing loyal employees.

Interpersonal skills boost employees’ confidence in themselves and the organization, thus they tend to work even harder to target the productivity goals and develop an effective team.

3. People Skills

As the role title itself says director of “people”, thus you must master the people skills. People skills are people management skills, where people are referred to as coworkers and employees under your directorship.

It is elementary for you to know the employee expectations, and then work on them keeping in view the business goals requires good people management skills since you have to manage people’s expectations and company goals at the same time.

People skills also demand the timely expression of your empathy with the employees. Exhibiting a genuine interest in others make them more confident in themselves working for you, thus ultimately you develop a better hold on them.

Some important people management skills every director of people should pursue include:

  • Good judgment
  • Flexibility
  • Showing interest in a team member
  • A sense of humor
  • Open-mindedness
  • Awareness of body language
  • Micromanagement

All these traits result in good directorship and management of coworkers.

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Diversity and inclusion certification

4. Communication Skills

Communication skills are among some of the most important skills that a Director of People must have to carry out for effective employee management in their role. Effective communication helps create better relations between employees of different teams and departments within an organization.

As a high authority figure, the director of people must ensure seamless communication by making use of the best practices for effective tasking and implementing practical changes. Good communication skills mean:

  • Communicating with employees at different levels. Responsibilities include handling employees with their whole work journey, from the time they enter the company to the time they exit the company. A good manager must exhibit the right traits to deal with the different needs from helping an employee fit in the organization to assisting them with their retirement plans.
  • Leveraging technology like collaborative tools to increase productivity. The Director of People must be tech-savvy and thus must implement any relevant technology needs that lead to improved results. Managing multiple workflows and many employees requires the use of different collaborative platforms for professional communication between teams. However, it is necessary to remain flexible to identify and use the best option as not everyone can use highly technical collaborative tools.
  • Practicing transparent communication. Transparent communication is the clear, honest, and informative type of communication that builds trust and respect. A director of people should use transparent communication to explain tasks, manage teams, resolve work conflicts, and assign tasks. As ideas are shared more openly, transparent communication removes general communication barriers and encourages innovative problem-solving skills for great leaders throughout the organization.

5. Strategic Skills

Aside from good strategic management skills, the role requires excellent organizational and decision-making skills. An ideal director of people should make efficient, acceptable, and productive decisions for every employee within the company. Here’s how you can elaborate strategic skills:

  • Implementing company vision. With every decision they make, a director of people needs to ensure that employees follow and respect the company’s vision. They must align employees’ tasks to the overall company goals and establish the need to follow the company’s vision for strategic business growth.
  • Aiming to improve the employee experience. Positive employee experience is a proven factor for company growth. It is necessary to motivate employees, establish a positive work environment and remove negative elements from the workspace. It helps to organize events that are aimed at boosting employee morale and interpersonal relations, which can only be achieved with good strategic and people management skills.
  • Developing new strategies to adapt to changes. An ideal director needs to assess the required changes and implement practical strategies to boost the company’s growth. Successful strategies reflect long terms goals and have detailed objectives. The director will monitor their strategies to ensure there are no negative repercussions on planned objectives and goals.

6. Accountability Skills

It is necessary for the director of people to recognize that accountability is a big part of their responsibility. It helps to boost employees’ confidence in their job responsibilities when seniors are open about accepting and learning from their mistakes. Such practices lead to stronger work culture. Here’s how you can further categorize accountability skills:

  • Appreciating good work. It is important to appreciate employee performance and highlight excellent results. This helps to motivate other employees and thus generates a ripple effect. Good directors leverage this practice to increase workforce productivity.
  • Practicing honesty. As discussed earlier, it is important to be transparent in communication. A good director will practice honesty in favorable and unfavorable situations. This helps to give an idea of the workplace environment you envision and builds employee trust in you. Honesty leads to better team member work and confidence in the director of people.
  • Practicing time management. A director needs to establish a work balance and time management protocol that is efficient for all company employees. It is important to know to implement any activities or commitments that disturb the work balance and waste time. A good director of people will use time blocking skills to ensure that the required tasks are accomplished in the target time with appropriate focus and attention.

7. Leadership Skills

A director of people must exhibit excellent leadership skills. They need to have a strong, positive outlook that employees can depend on. Good leadership motivates every employee to achieve their best. Therefore, it is important to have a strong standing that employees respect and can learn from. If you are a director of people looking to build leadership skills, then these elements might help you with your concern:

  • Leading by example. A good director will get involved in the process to make the employees more comfortable. By setting a healthy standard and a good example, a director helps employees to set realistic goals and achieve more productive results. It also helps to increase employee morale and drive them towards a more positive work environment.
  • Defining a work ethic. It is important to promote and implement healthy practices in the workplace. A good director leads by example and ensures that their work ethic is refined and professional. As a good leader, it is important to have a work ethic that shows responsibility, good communication, and commitment.
  • Helping employees with career pathing. Good leaders focus on building up the people who work under them. A director of people helps employees with career pathing, which involves laying out the potential course of progress for the employee within the organization. Such activities help boost employee confidence and loyalty, in the short term and the long term.

A director of people should be able to foresee and tackle new challenges with a cohesive vision. In addition to that, they should work to make them a role model for the whole team who can provide all the answers and solutions to continually improve employees’ work.


The Director of People is an excellent position for a candidate with the right experience, qualifications, and skill set. Thus, if you feel to have acquired all these mandatory skills, you can try your luck by applying to the right roles. Before applying you must ensure that you have these seven skills:

  • Technical skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • People’s skills
  • Communication Skills
  • Strategic Skills
  • Accountability Skills
  • Leadership Skills

As the director of people is a position with a wide range of people’s responsibilities, the ideal candidate must exhibit refined people skills, problem-solving skills, empathy, and a sense of leadership all the employees of their organization can depend on. Continuing upskilling your knowledge and skills is a great tactic to boost your career as a director of people.


If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a Director of People position, 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 Director of People job.


Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.