It can be confusing, sometimes, to figure out what a human resources manager does. Is he or she a representative of management, a manager, or an employee advocate? (Yes.) Is he or she involved in payroll, hiring, and benefits? (Yes.) Can you go to your HR Manager if you have an issue with your superior? (Yes.)
The HR person’s role can vary between companies. But here are some basic responsibilities:
Hiring: Often, managers at a firm will write up a description for a position they need filled. The HR manager will then act as a recruiter — placing the job ad, evaluating responses, and setting up interviews with potential employees. If the HR manager is happy with the outcome of that first interview, he or she will set up one or more interviews with the actual manager and other executives, sometimes on the same day.
In my experience, especially concerning technical and new media positions, an HR manager will happily pass you along to your potential supervisor, who will decide you are not a fit for the position at all. What’s the disconnect between the HR manager and the supervisor? Usually a lack of communication, and a poor understanding on the HR Manager’s part of what the position entails.
Member of management: One of an HR manager’s primary duties is to ensure professional business practices in all human resources decisions and communications. Usually this involves creating an employee manual, and then enforcing the rules of the manual. In a growing company, the HR person may need to demolish the fun, freewheeling atmosphere of a small company in order to protect it from lawsuits as it becomes a medium-sized or large company.
HR managers must be on the lookout for inappropriate behavior — sexual harassment, inappropriate jokes or pranks, racial or religious remarks, unsuitable work clothing, dangerous work practices that may lead to injury, etc. This applies to both management and non-management employees. At a well-run company, the HR manager has the authority to force management into behaving properly and treating employees with respect.
Employee advocate: When an employee is not getting what they are due — a raise, bonus or promotion, job resources, respect — the HR person becomes his or her advocate, working with the employee and with management to reach a solution. But if your HR manager has no pull with management, then they are ill-suited to advocate on your behalf. This is why unions exist.
Let us know what you think in the comments!What Does a Human Resources Manager Do? by Erik Even