2022

HR Director vs HR Manager: What’s the Difference?

An HR director plans, leads, and manages the HR policies and overviews the ongoing operations while an HR manager executives and implements the day-to-day operations like recruitment, application screening, and interviewing the candidates. 

In short, HR directors are the head of an HR department, while HR managers are answerable before human resources directors. 

This article provides detailed insights into the differences between human resources directors and human resource managers. Let’s dive in. 

HR Director vs. HR Manager: What Do They Do?

HR directors and managers work in the same department and often work together to check the department’s progress. However, larger organizations have only one human resources director directing the HR department, but they may have more than HR managers managing different HR specialties and areas. All those HR managers are accountable to answer for their work responsibilities before human resource directors since the HR directors are superior to them. 

Different human resources managers such as HR payroll managers, HR employee training managers, and others; are all responsible to manage, direct and supervise their team. Since the HR directors have the highest role in the human resource’s hierarchy and they are the executives of the department, all the managers have to report to them for their work progress. 

Let’s properly divide HR management and directorship roles so you can get detailed knowledge about the differences between these two positions in an HR department. 

What Does an HR Director Do?

An HR director is an executive position responsible to create strategies for better business growth and allocating the budgets for employees and other organizational expenses. 

In general, they focus on bigger outcomes, such as enforcing departmental and organizational goals, and strategies for business growth.

Human resources directors are responsible to oversee the hiring processes, and thus they ensure that they are hiring the right talent based on the company’s requirements, priorities, and standards. 

Furthermore, the HR directors are mainly responsible to plan, lead, and manage the recruitment operations, policies implementation, and employee retention policies. 

In addition to that, human resource directors have strategic job responsibilities. For example, planning and developing strategies based on the company’s long-term and short-term goals for organizational development and growth. They also contribute insights to the development of organizational strategies. On top of that, they are responsible to develop strategies not just for future achievements, but also for talent acquisition, employee retention, and labor management. 

Human resources directors are responsible to ensure that whether employees comply with the policies or not. They also collaborate with other department directors and managers to gain insights into how a policy works in those departments. Furthermore, human resource directors are also responsible to collect employee feedback towards their team leads so they can improve the employee experience. 

Apart from strategic duties, they also oversee how the staff works in the human resources department. Furthermore, they also work for business development and budget development programs. 

In short, we can summarize the duties and responsibilities of a human resources director by stating that they facilitate human resource managers, work on organizational strategies, define HR objectives,  improve and update company policies, manage the work and employee discipline, and prepare progress reports to inform the business executives and senior management teams. 

What Does an HR Manager Do?

An HR manager is responsible to carry out the day-to-day HR functions in an HR department. They are responsible to execute the HR operations, supervising their coworkers, and reporting the outcomes, insights, and challenges to HR directors and other senior executives of the human resources department. 

HR managers have an operational role, unlike human resources directors who have a more strategic role. The human resources managers are responsible for the workforce planning campaigns, recruitment campaigns, employee engagement, career assistance, screening applications, and employee benefit programs for healthy labor relations. 

Furthermore, a human resources manager is responsible to look after performance management operations as these systems ensure fairness and honesty in the work environment. 

Journey to become an HR manager

In addition to that, human resource managers are the ones who are solely responsible for staffing duties. From screening the job applications to interviewing the right candidate, hiring them, and helping them settle in the work organization is the responsibility of HR managers. 

Apart from hiring, HR managers train the employees for quick and better business development. Whenever an employee faces some issues, human resources managers are responsible to look after those challenges and help build better employee and work relations. 

Human resources managers also work on the compensation and employee benefit programs approved by the human resources director, such as employee monthly/yearly incentive plans, bonus programs, and competitional awards. 

As they are responsible to establish better working environments, they are also assigned to oversee the safety of employees within an organization. Furthermore, they have the practical duty to ensure that the employees follow the workspace laws and ethics. 

In short, human resource managers are responsible for all practical workspace duties that range from guiding the employees and recruiting the best talent, to ensuring that the employees follow the workspace ethics. 

You can learn more about the details of these roles through our professional HR certifications:

Human Resources Certifications

How Do HR Managers and HR Directors Work Together?

HR managers communicate with HR directors regarding their day to day operations, tasks, and work progress. Since the human resources director is a superior role to an HR manager, thus good communication and collaboration ensure the department is on the right track to target business goals. 

Furthermore, a human resources director also communicates with the human resource managers regarding the work and organizational policies and strategies they should adopt in their routine tasking. HR directors’ role is strategic, thus they work on developing strategies. While human resource managers’ role is operational, thus they work to operate and perform practical tasks. They work together in the sense that the HR manager is responsible to implement the policies and strategies developed by the HR directors. Hence, good collaboration between the HR manager and HR director is mandatory for effective employee and business growth. 

Who Earns More: HR Directors or HR Managers?

According to Glassdoor, a human resources director earns an average of $124k per year in the United States. This is the total national average salary inclusive of the additional payments and average bonuses in the United States. The base pay for a human resources director is $106k, with an average of $17k additional allowances. This means almost $10k per month. 

On the other hand, an HR manager earns $84k per year, according to Glassdoor. This figure includes the general salary of $67k, with $17k additional allowances. That means, $7k per month for an HR manager in the United States,

Thus, based on these stats, human resources directors earn almost 40% more than human resource managers according to our estimation from these salary figures from Glassdoor. 

What Are the Differences Between HR Directors and HR Managers?

By now you must have been clear about the general responsibilities of HR directors and HR managers. Let’s now jump into the detailed differences between these two important HR roles. 

Methodology 

HR directors and human resource managers work with two completely different methodologies. The HR directors work with a strategical approach to perform their day-to-day tasks, while the human resource managers work with an operational and practical approach to their daily routine duties. 

Hence, the directors are expected to provide valuable strategies and policies for not just the human resources department but such policies that benefit the organization as a whole in the future.  

HR Director vs. HR Manager

While, the human resources managers are expected to carry out practical tasks, like screening the job applications, interviewing and onboarding candidates, ensuring the employees follow work ethics, and other operational tasks that make the company’s work and goals keep going smoothly. 

Skills

Another major difference between the HR directors and managers is the skills. When HR professionals hire for these positions, they prioritize the strategic and developmental capabilities of a human resources director. Here’s a detailed list of skills mandatory for an HR director’s role:

  • Analytical skills
  • Technical skills
  • Strategical skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Developmental skills
  • Business administration skills

On the other hand, when recruiters screen the applications for an HR manager’s role, they prefer candidates with good management and operational skills so that the HR processes go smooth in their presence with good handling capabilities. Here’s a list of skills that are crucial for an HR manager’s role:

  • Practical skills
  • Management skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Analysis skills

Thus, we can sort of say that a human resource director is sort of a technical role, while an HR manager’s role is sort of non-technical when compared to the director’s role. In general, all HR leads have to adopt a technical approach to successfully carry out their job responsibilities. 

Career Path

When it comes to the HR career path, both these positions advance towards senior executives roles. An HR director is generally promoted to either HR business partners or HR business executives or an HR vice president. Here is the career path for an HR director in order:

HR Manager Career Path

  1. HR business partner
  2. Senior HR executive
  3. HR vice president
  4. HR president/ Chief HR Officer (CHRO)

On the other hand, human resources managers can also follow the career path trajectory of HR directors based on their technical and non-technical competencies. Generally, human resource managers have this below-listed career path (regardless of order):

  1. Labor relations specialist
  2. Training development specialist
  3. Employee benefit specialist
  4. HR recruiter
  5. Human resources assistant
  6. HR director

Not that, these career paths for human resources managers are based on their level of skills and technical vs. non-technical competencies. In general, a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in human resources is required for both roles.

Conclusion

At last, we can summarize the article by saying that HR directors focus on the strategic side of the business and is a much more technical role, while HR managers focus on the operational side of the business with less focus on technical competencies.

HR directors are seniors to HR managers. Note that there’s always just one HR director in a human resources department, but there can be more than one HR manager in the department due to specialties and different HR teams.

FAQs

Here are answers to some of your most asked queries regarding the difference between HR directors and managers. 

Can HR Managers Become HR Directors?

Yes. As told earlier, HR managers are junior to HR directors, they can aim for promotions and career transformations within the HR department or an HR operation’s specialty. human resources managers can be promoted to HR director if they exhibit enough strategic and organizational development skills. Good technical skills also increase the HR manager’s chances to become an HR director. Thus, it is clear that managers can easily aim for the director’s role if they have the portfolios and work record that reflects their potential and abilities to handle such senior roles. 

Which Is Better: HR Director or HR Manager?

Although the priority varies based on one’s taste, skills, and technical competencies, the HR director is a much better role when it comes to financial rewards like salaries and bonuses. However, keep in mind that HR directors have to oversee the complete department to ensure the strategy and policies comply with the company goals. Furthermore, they are also accountable to report before the enterprise holders and other senior business authorities for their work duties. 

 


If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into an HR Director or an HR Manager 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 Human Resources Director or Manager 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.