How to become an HR Manager with Human Resource Management

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Are you looking for a career that will evolve? Are you looking for a career to help people?  While Human Resource Management has always been a multifaceted career, HR has evolved in importance since 2020. Human Resources has now become the cornerstone and tie that bind the organisation together when everyone is encouraged to be apart. This article will answer your questions about how to become  an HR manager, what an HR manager does and the skills required to become an HR manager. Institutions such as MANCOSA make becoming an HR manager accessible, coupled with the qualification – the institution has links to top employer companies which provide great graduate programmes for students.

What is Human Resource Management?

Human Resource Management has been defined as the process of training, developing, recruiting, selecting, employing, retaining, evaluating and compensating employees. Furthermore, Human Resources  ensures the health, wellness and safety of employees as well as candidates. As an HR manager, you are legally liable for not only the individuals that you employ but each prospective candidate. This is outlined in the Labour Relations Act and Human Resource  Managers are to remain cognisant of the treatment of prospective candidates.

Human Resources has traditionally been an administrative role, termed personnel management. However presently, it has transformed to Human Resource management. The differences between the two are: Personnel management is the planning, organising, directing and controlling of the procurement, development, compensation, integration and maintenance of people for the purpose of contributing to the organisational goals.

Human resource management is to provide, maintain and develop individual and group efficiency and effectiveness in order to improve individual and group performance. Human Resource functions have broadened, as outlined in the graphic below:

Human Resource Functions

‘Whilst HR may be important in good times, it is defined in hard times’. Covid-19 has brought one of the hardest times many Human Resource Managers have ever seen in this lifetime. In as much as HR has redefined itself, this redefinition saw what was expected to occur in organisations in 10 years’ time, occur in a few days. The longevity of an organisation during the Covid-19 pandemic, now lies heavily on Human Resources’ ability to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation.

What does an HR Manager do?

The roles and responsibilities of an HR manager are to manage the department’s administrative services and transactions; the business and strategic partner. The focus of administrative services and transactions is on the efficient use of resources and service quality. Human Resource’s role tends to be limited to the administration of compensation, hiring and staffing practices. The business partner role of HR is one that has emerged in recent years. The HR department is required to know the business, exercise influence and effectively manage talent so as to help implement business plans. HR’s role as a strategic partner is a very recent development. Human Resources is considered to be an equal partner in strategy formulation and implementation. Human Resource Management  is required to contribute to the business strategy, particularly in terms of human capital considerations, business capabilities, readiness and developing HR practices as strategic differentiators. Some of the most important duties undertaken by a Human Resource Manager include:

1. Job Analysis & Design 

Job analysis involves “the process of getting detailed information about jobs.” The information obtained from job analysis is used to write up job descriptions and job specifications. While a job description provides a list of tasks, duties and responsibilities that the job entails, a job specification details the knowledge, skills and attitudes that a person requires in order to perform the job.

2. HR Planning

Human Resource Planning is also known as personnel planning, talent planning or workforce planning.  It is the “process by which company goals, as put forth in mission statements and company plans, are translated into HR objectives to ensure that the company is neither over- nor understaffed.

3. Recruitment 

Recruitment is the “practice or activity carried on by the organisation with the primary purpose of identifying and attracting potential employees.”

4. Selection

While recruitment aims to produce a pool of qualified applicants for a particular vacant position, the Human Resource Management  function of selection focuses on choosing the individual from the group of applicants who is best suited for a particular vacant position.

5. Training and Development 

Training and development is also referred to as Skills Development in South Africa.  While training has a short-term focus and involves “a planned effort to facilitate the learning of job-related knowledge, skills and behaviour by employees,” development has a medium to long-term focus and refers to “formal education, job experiences, relationships, and assessment of personality and abilities that help employees prepare for the future.

6. Compensation

The management of compensation is a complex and important HRM function.  Not only must the remuneration offered by a company be sufficient to attract suitably qualified applicants for available positions, but it must also be able to retain and motivate existing employees.

7. Performance Management 

Performance management is an important Human Resources function which ensures that employee efforts are directed towards the achievement of the organisation’s goals.

8. Employee Relations

Employee relations is also known as employment relations, industrial relations, or labour relations. In South Africa, a number of pieces of labour legislation direct the employment relationship.  These include the:

  • Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998
  • Basic Conditions of Employment Act No 75 of 97
  • Labour Relations Act No 66 of 1995,
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993
  • Skills Development Act No 97 of 1998
  • Skills Development Levies Act No 9 of 1999
  • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act No 130 of 1993
  • Unemployment Insurance Act No 63 of 2001.

A Human Resource Manager spearheads the above mentioned functions. If we had to take recruitment for example, if the recruitment process was implemented by a retail clothing store for a vacant position of shop assistant, a pool of applicants for the position would need to be produced by the HR manager. The selection process would involve the store’s HR manager, in conjunction with the relevant supervisors/managers, in working through the applications, and establishing a shortlist of the most suitably qualified applicants.  Those applicants would then need to undergo various assessments, such as interviews and reference checks, all overseen by the HR manager.  The information obtained about each applicant through these various assessments would be used by the Human Resource   Manager and relevant retail store managers/supervisors in selecting the applicant who is most suitably qualified for the job.

What skills are needed to become an HR Manager?

Step 1: Get your Matric Certificate 

Now that you have attained your matric certificate and it allows for you to study further towards a tertiary qualification. If your pass allows for you to study towards a higher certificate, then a Higher Certificate in Human Resource Management would be a starting point. If your pass allows for you to study towards a degree then it is important to understand the fields – such as Bachelor of Business Administration; Bachelor of Commerce etc.

Step 2: Get a Higher Certificate in Human Resource Management

A higher certificate coupled with experience can place you in a good position to be a Human Resource Manager or it can be a perfect stepping stone to bridging the gap between your matric and the Bachelor’s degree. If you have recently matriculated, you may go directly into a Bachelor’s Degree without completing the Higher Certificate, as long as you  have obtained a National Senior Certificate or the National Certificate (Vocational) with appropriate subject combinations and levels of achievement.

Step 3: Get  a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management

To begin your journey of becoming a Human Resource Manager, it is recommended to study towards a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource Management.

Step 4: Gain an internship or work experience

Internships allow students and graduates to gain real-world experience in Human Resources. This is highly valuable as it provides practical knowledge, in addition to the theoretical knowledge from one’s qualification. In South Africa, particularly because of the legislation around Sector Education and Training, companies have an incentive to offer school leaving pupils and graduates programmes to gain work experience.

An internship can be paid or unpaid. All internships possess the potential to become full-time jobs once the internship is complete based on your performance and/ or the organisational requirements.  Business schools such as MANCOSA that have employability at the forefront with links to Top Employers, like Unilever, which is a great choice to kickstart your theoretical and practical journey towards becoming a Human Resource Manager.

Companies such as Unilever, Tiger Brands, Nestle’ and Coca Cola offer HR internships annually, all of which are highly sought after and give one’s CV a boost. Internships are often advertised on the companies’ websites, on Indeed, Puff and Pass, PNet and Career Junction.

Step 5: Consider An HR Certification

In South Africa, HR practitioners can apply for certification through the South African Board for Personnel Practice.

Study Human Resources with MANCOSA

Human Resources is an imperative function in the modern business world, allowing organisations to plan and operate strategically. The Human Resource Manager provides a valuable service to a business through their well-rounded and multi-disciplinary skillset making this an excellent career choice for the goal-oriented, career-driven person. Start your career in the fulfilling area of professional Human Resources with MANCOSA and register for a certificate or degree programme.

By Dianne Souls – HR Academic