5 Essential HR Manager Skills in 2021

Updated on June 22nd, 2021
5 Essential HR Manager Skills in 2021

HR manager is an essential role of any organization or company. HR managers usually oversee employee relations, talent recruitment, and workforce training. But they also take part in conflict resolution, administration, and human resource program development.

Due to the nature of the job, HR managers need to possess a diverse set of skills, including communication skills, management skills, and organizational skills, to manage the team effectively.

Since it's a unique combination of hard and soft skills, a good HR manager takes courses throughout their career to hone the business skills they need.

Unlike other human resources professionals, human resources managers are the ones responsible for how things work out. Thus, they need to be able to keep a cool head and make calculated decisions.

Besides the usual skills they need, such as leadership, hiring talent, onboarding new hires, and conflict management, we'll list the essential skills they need in 2021 to supervise successful business management.

Empathy as the Key Skill for Human Resource Managers

2020 hit hard. Many employees dealt with stress, frustration, and uncertainty. According to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities data, the unemployment rate in April 2020 hit a level last time seen in the 1930s.

For human resource managers, that meant handling issues that weren't as prominent just half a year ago while possibly struggling with similar problems. But by including empathy in their leadership HR skills, many HR leaders found a way to develop a plan to maintain the needed employee performance.

It's the leader's job to know what their workers are going through in their careers. Instead of acting as averages employers, managers can develop a healthy workplace by sharing their experience.

This will become even more important for human resources management in 2021. As companies recover, they will need HR professionals who can lead and do necessary training and development that's different from a couple of years ago.

Onboarding new candidates will have to be more strategic. The same goes for conducting a talent interview, measuring performance, and even checking an average resume.

Although managers usually don't conduct the interview or do resume checks, they need to have the ability to communicate with the HR assistant or HR generalist doing the job. They must be able to emphasize with existing co-workers to hire the right, new talent. If the leadership crumbles, everything else follows.

Since all HR professionals work with humans, empathy is one of the essential human resources skills. But this becomes even more crucial for managers leading the team.

Emotional Intelligence & Understanding When Things Go Wrong or Right

Although somewhat related to the previous ability, having strong emotional intelligence is more than proper communication with employees. According to a study, managers and employers with strong emotional intelligence tend to have better leadership skills that yield better financial and productive results.

Uncertain times require laser-sharp decision-making and professional management skills. Meaning, it's important to have the skill to recognize positive moments, the same as the negative.

When the employee morale is low, acknowledging even the slightest positive bump becomes a vital skill in the leader's arsenal.

Managers already have countless tasks to deal with, including securing sensitive information, managing HR software, and act as the communication bridge between the workforce and organization or business higher-ups. But it's a key part of the job to develop and maintain a productive workplace.

HR professionals need to not only manage their productivity but the efficiency of their employees as well—that’s where emotional intelligence takes a pivotal part alongside other HR skills.

Even before 2020, human resources had to deal with uncertainty throughout the career. But the anxiety ramped up with many jobs moving online, and it will take time to recover in 2021 and beyond. To be successful, human resources management needs to have leaders who'll lead by personal example.

It all boils down to how long the recovery will last. Will an adapting program, some organizations and companies will recover sooner than others.

Develop & Implement DEI Pollicies

Diversity and inclusion is another matter that became more prominent in 2020. Especially when it comes to hiring, compensation, benefits, and overall approach a company has both outside and inside the HR field.

Vigorous DEI policies create security for employees, making them more productive and they develop more confidence not just in their career but the company as well.

With that said, it can be tricky to create a strategic DEI program that works for everybody. A young talent knocking on the door with a resume can have a different view than current employees. Similarly, one HR professional can also have a different opinion than another.

But data does show that inclusive companies and employers are 120% more likely to hit financial goals than those that aren't.

In a way, 2021 is the starting point for refurbishing HR skills towards that. HR professionals who know how to collect sensitive information from their employees will have a much better overview of required tasks. This goes back to solid communication skills and empathy.

Employees who do not trust employers won't share the information or, even worse, they’ll share wrong information, jeopardizing the company's performance and relations.

But a professional HR manager with the right HR skills will communicate adequately and develop a program that implements the data into practice.

Human resources professionals need to sync up with the personal, emotional tides of their employees and the new recruits. 

It's still uncharted waters, so an HR professional doesn't want to engage in a DEI policy development that might go outdated a year later. But that's where genuine management and skills take part.

By collecting the correct data, training, reading between the lines of a resume, everybody can benefit. HR professionals take pride in acknowledging issues before they happen, and employees feel more comfortable, even if they are working remotely and online.

DEI training and development is the key to success in 2021, and creating a strategic approach that benefits everybody will result in more significant financial profit.

Take Advantage of AI in Human Resources

It's the manager who makes key calls and prepares the playing field for employee tasks, recruitment, and sometimes even how substantial an employee compensation will be. Same as managers rip the rewards due to their human resource skills, they also take the hit if, for example, a hire goes wrong.

AI has been making its way in every part of human resource management. AI can accelerate hiring, training, onboarding candidates, resume analysis, and payroll management.

While some HR professionals fear AI's efficiency, others develop skills that make their job easier. Instead of looking at it as fewer work opportunities, AI-supported decision-making can release tension in management.

Many human resources skills might indeed become redundant, but it is also true that new job opportunities and related skills will arise.

According to a study on AI's impact on human resource management, AI will benefit HR professionals because a business will have the ability to make better organizational decisions.

AI allows candidates to present their skills more effectively. Instead of going through perpetual submissions of the same information, both talents and management can be more efficient. This also reflects on creating more transparent communication between the employees and the company.

Furthermore, a company can create a better skill training program, ensuring that a candidate starts their job earlier.

This means for HR managers that the human resources skills they employ will have to change as well. Instead of making decisions based on experience, they will decide based on the mixture of experience and cold AI data.

The key is that although AI has superior information collecting and organizational skills, that isn't enough to connect with employees. Human resource still needs to be the bridge between the data and the employees.

When conducting online recruitment, AI is faster at locating key resume points, but it's the HR professional who needs to make the hire.

The human-machine relationship redefines how an organization does business, but it depends on the manager's HR skills how beneficial the shift will be.

Adapting Human Resources Skills to Remote Work

Whether it's an IT business or a health organization, everybody had to move a portion of their work online. While some organizations struggle, some found a way to make the most out of remote work.

It's fascinating to think about how remote work changed human resource management. Although an unpleasant surprise, many employers realized that their employees could be as efficient from home as they are in the office.

Although required skills are the same in the field of human resources, HR workers need to fine-tune each skill one way or the other. For an HR manager, it changes the way they engage with employees and communicate. Software that wasn't necessary before became a required skill.

Since remote work is here to stay, an HR professional needs to have the ability to maintain efficiency, even if they can't interact with employees physically.

Measuring employee performance and doing recruitment, while still the key to success, is easier to overlook than before. This can leave an unprepared manager lost if they don't have the skills or knowledge to do their job efficiently.

To stay effective, HR managers need to learn how to exploit their existing knowledge in the new environment. Otherwise, they'll end up overlooking key parts of the new digital workspace.