The Hidden Quality in Good HR Managers

You don’t have to be a woman to be a good human resources manager—but, according to research, you are more likely to be. Women are the ones most likely to bring emotional intelligence to the table, according to a survey of executives, and emotional intelligence is vital to HR. In fact, at least one study has shown that almost 90 percent of leadership success comes from emotional intelligence.

Wondering what exactly emotional intelligence is? Not sure why it matters so much in human resources? Let’s take a look.


What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Think of it this way: In a room full of people, those with emotional intelligence continually pick up social and behavioral cues that others miss. Did that girl really mean what she said about her job, or was she exaggerating? Did that guy want to leave early, or was a conflict brewing with another person? Noticing and then understanding these kinds of situations typically come more naturally to women, although men certainly are perceptive too in varying degrees. Such insights are particularly helpful in HR, where person-to-person dynamics, perceptions, and emotions play such a pivotal role.


How Does Emotional Intelligence Benefit an HR Manager?

In recruiting, hiring, managing, and working with personnel, emotional intelligence is so important that it may actually be the determining factor between a fine HR manager and a great one. As proof of that idea, consider the following benefits that come from emotional intelligence in HR.


An HR manager who understands the ways emotions operate is an HR manager better equipped to respond to an employee’s frustrations and concerns. Nobody wants to talk to an HR manager who belittles or ignores his or her complaints. When upset staff members come to an HR manager, they respond better to the person who shows empathy for what’s bothering them.


Because emotional intelligence means being able to discern the difference between real and fake behaviors, emotionally aware HR managers have a leg up in terms of perceptions. A manager who can tell when an employee is giving lip service is better able to avoid being manipulated or deceived.


Many, if not most, personnel conflicts happen because of misunderstandings. Being able to articulate emotions—both your own and your employees’—is incredibly helpful in working towards better understanding.


Employee Retention

The truth is, managers’ and supervisors’ interactions with employees go a long way towards determining whether or not those employees are satisfied with their jobs and willing to stick around. HR professionals who can be both firm and caring build trust with their staff members. A happy staff means reduced turnover, which is good for everyone.


Your Thoughts

In your experience in human resources, have you seen ways in which emotional intelligence is an asset? What other benefits come to your mind besides the ones outlined above?



About the author: Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Web design firm providing specialized SEO, Web development, and other online marketing services. Follow Straight North on Twitter and Facebook.


Photo credit iStockphoto

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1 Comment

James Lawther

I totally agree that emotional intelligence is all important in an HR manager, but isn’t that true for all managers?

How do you give the skill to your operational managers and prevent the need to play backstop?


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