Human resource skills for project managers

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Dealing with human resources (HR) is a skill all of its own, one that can take much training and experience to be any good at, and a lot of patience to deal with the problems of the staff and management.  Let’s start at the basics – what are human resources?

What are Human Resources?

Human resources are the set of individuals who make up the workforce of a company or organisation. Laws and regulations relating to HR are time consuming and complex and there are many businesses that have dedicated HR departments.

What does the HR department do?

Business employees should be an asset.  A good and happy workforce can mean the difference between profit and loss and certainly in larger concerns will have their own department to look after the staff.  Smaller concerns may use a Human Resource Management Company (HRM).

Among some of the things the HR department or HRM would be responsible for include:

  • Employment laws are implemented
  • The health and safety policy is properly implemented
  • Any disagreements between staff and management are satisfied
  • Arrange training when needed
  • Holiday rotas are fair and correct
  • The correct staff are hired, including the advertising for and interviewing of prospective employees
  • Disciplinary action is taken where needed
  • There are no unfair dismissals

There are many other things an HR department would do and the staff that run these departments need to be very knowledgeable on all the laws and regulations. If they get it wrong the financial fines and penalties can be crippling.

HR Qualifications

Working in an HR department, certainly as a manager or team leader, is a very specialised job, which requires training, and there are qualifications that can be achieved in many different areas, such as:

  • Building a winning team
  • Equality issues
  • Training
  • Health and safety
  • Development
  • Sickness
  • Recruitment
  • Employment tribunals
  • Maternity and paternity
  • Employment laws

The list of subjects they need to know about is endless, but so is the amount of training on offer, it really depends on how qualified the individual wants to become.

How this affects a project manager

As a project manager it is helpful to have a basic understanding of as many facets of the business as possible. As the people hired will directly impact on the effectiveness of your team, and therefore your ability to deliver your project, it is important to clearly communicate with the HR department to ensure they clearly understand your needs.

Working in conjunction with them can also provide invaluable feedback on how employees feel about their working environment, allowing you to create a happier and more productive team.

The HR of a business is really important

The UK government, in its wisdom, has a law for just about everything to do with employers and employees; most of them are common sense and fair to both parties.  However, if an employer falls foul of the laws, the consequences can be severe. This is what the HR department should prevent, and why they are so important. The cost of running the department will be far less than the financial penalties that can be imposed for getting it wrong.

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