Do You Need Strong People Skills to Work in Human Resources?

The simple answer to that question is yes. You have to be able to communicate with employees, have a good grasp of employment laws and have the ability to sit in the same room as someone who is about to be terminated.  These duties require a lot of human empathy and the ability to read another person’s actions and behaviors, aka “people skills”.

You Have to Handle Multiple Personality Types

No two employees are exactly the same. While one person may be able to handle a stern talking to without much drama, others may threaten to sue or take their case to upper management. This means that you have to be able to tailor your words to conform with the differing personalities that you will see each day.

No One Likes Bad News

It may be your responsibility to tell an employee that he or she is being terminated. Although security may be in the room with you, it is still up to you to tell someone that they are no longer able to provide for themselves and their family. Whenever you are terminating someone, the message has to be delivered with sensitivity regardless of your personal feelings for the employee. It takes strong interpersonal skills to pull that off.

Management Experience is Often Required

Many large companies require that their employee representatives have some sort of management or leadership experience. In some cases, it may be necessary to have an employee representative work with managers during interviews or to carry out other tasks that need to be done around the office. If you are working for a small company, there is a good chance that you will interact with customers and do more than just sit in an office by yourself all day.

Following the Law is Part of the Job

A strong grasp of employment law is necessary to work in HR. You have to be able to tell an employee that he or she can’t work in a certain department or work more than a certain amount of hours due to labor laws. If the employee gets upset or wants to negotiate with you, it is your job to be firm yet fair. Knowing how to toe the line between being friends with your colleagues and being responsible for their safety is a line that not everyone can walk.

Can you Identify Rising Stars in the Company?

It may be your job to identify those who are worthy of a promotion within the company. To do this effectively, you have to be able to interact with employees and notice the traits of a good worker. If you don’t have strong people skills, you won’t be able to offer good recommendations.

Employee representatives need to have strong people skills to do their job well. In small companies, it is often necessary to work with customers and management to grow the company. In large companies, management training is often required to get the job. Therefore, you should spend time working on your interpersonal skills if working in HR is something that you want to do.

Additional Reading: Is human resources a good career for an introvert?