Human Resources

Handling Ethics and Conflict: More Key Skills of HR Management

Yesterday’s Advisor presented the first five of the nine key skills of human resources (HR) management from Jay Schleifer and Stephen Bruce, PhD, PHR. Today, Schleifer and Bruce present the rest of these essential skills.

#6: Discrete and Ethical

HR professionals are the conscience of the company as well as the keepers of confidential information. As you serve the needs of top management, you also monitor its actions toward employees to be sure that policies and regulations are followed. You need to be able to push back when they aren’t in order to keep the firm on the straight and narrow—not an easy responsibility!

Of course, you always handle confidential information appropriately, and never divulge it to any unauthorized person.


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#7: Dual Focus

Employees expect HR professionals to advocate for their concerns, yet you must also enforce top management’s policies. The HR professional who can pull off this delicate balancing act wins trust from all concerned.

There are times you must make decisions to protect the individual, and there are other times when you protect the organization, its culture, and values. These decisions may be misunderstood by some, and you may catch flak because of it, but you know that explaining your choices might compromise confidential information. That’s something you would never do.

#8: Conflict Management and Problem Solving

News flash! Everyone doesn’t always get along with everyone else. High productivity demands that people work together at least civilly. HR has to find ways to allow that to happen. And, that’s to say nothing of the myriad other problems that hit HR’s in-box—you can’t be effective without problem-solving ability.


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#9: Change Management

Most companies today are in a constant state of flux. Task forces, matrices, and teams spring into being, do their jobs, and disband as others form. Hierarchies have been squashed, and companies have four or five generations working side by side. A lot of people are freaked out by what’s going on. HR has to help everyone cope with the constant changes.

Nine Skills but Also One Caveat

"HR is a creature of, and serves, the business strategy," BLR® founder Bob Brady says. "It’s important for HR people to know what that strategy is and what makes the business tick so the approach to HR can be tailored accordingly.

"Never think of HR in isolation," he advises. "Because if HR professionals think of themselves as ‘just HR,’ that’s what the rest of the organization will think, too."

Did We Get It Right?

How about our 9 skills? Do you have a different list? Please share it in the comments below.