How to Be a Successful HR Director

by Sam Ashe-Edmunds

Whether your company has put you in charge of personnel matters with little or no training or you’ve studied HR and are taking your first job, the steps to success are much the same. Measuring success requires setting goals with your superiors, creating objectives that will provide measurable results and tracking your efforts to determine how they’re working.

Meet with your supervisor and determine the tasks and goals for the HR department. Review areas such as the company’s organization chart, job descriptions, recruitment, orientation, training, benefits, compensation, morale, company policy manual, safety training, grievance procedures, discipline, termination policies, payroll, wellness and legal compliance. Ask for specific goals for each area to help guide you in creating plans for each, and request that your supervisor rank your responsibilities in order of importance.

Prepare plans for achieving each of your objectives, including benchmarks for measuring success. For example, suppose you are asked to improve employee benefits without increasing costs or with only a small budget. You might propose voluntary benefits as one method and track increases in employee enrollment, participation and decreased payroll tax costs. A wellness program should decrease sick days and reduce health care costs.

Calculate the cost of every area of the human resources department. Describe each area in detail, and then list their benefits and costs. Submit the costs to your supervisor so he can determine your budget and either approve or deny particular programs. Using this feedback, create your final plan, including benchmarks and measurements used for tracking success. Get the plan approved by your supervisor.

Meet with department heads to review your new HR plan. Ask if they have any questions or suggestions before you roll it out to all employees. Using their feedback, prepare your final plan and communicate it to employees. Create an HR area on your company’s intranet site and/or company newsletter to discuss the plan, its policies, highlights and benefits.

Monitor the results of your initiatives. Compare them against your projections to determine if you need to make any adjustments. Share the results with your supervisor to determine if he wants any programs expanded or reduced.

Research human resources websites to improve your knowledge of the many areas of HR. Subscribe to industry trade publications and ask if your company will pay to send you to seminars, workshops and trade shows. Join HR trade associations, including national and local chapters. Network with other HR professionals so you have a stable of experts who can answer specific questions you have as they arise at your company. Create a list of HR specialists you can consult if you need expertise in areas such as legal compliance, safety, wellness or benefits planning.

About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

Photo Credits

  • NA/ Images