The six secrets of highly successful HR directors

Published on: 12 May 2015

Don’t be fooled into underestimating the vital role HR plays in any successful operation. A good HR director is as important as anyone in ensuring your company not only runs smoothly but that it is geared up to grow and thrive moving forward. The best operators are the fulcrum at the heart of an operation around which the boardroom and the workforce can flourish. But what makes a highly successful HR director? Here are six key traits that form the secrets to cracking this vital role…

Go between

HR permeates through every department of an organisation, making it uniquely poised to offer a perspective on every aspect of your operation. The very best HR directors offer the boardroom an accurate picture of how the workforce feels – and can also help to relay the hopes and aims of the management to employees. The ideal person in this crucial ‘go between’ role will be a strong listener and a shrewd and trusted confidant.

Conflict resolution

When you’re at the heart of everything the company does you’re bound to encounter issues and conflicts that must be resolved. The best HR departments will be spearheaded by someone who is able to spot these at the earliest possible opportunity and stop them spreading or escalating. Losing key people costs a business money and successful HR can stop that by ensuring the top talent doesn’t become disillusioned.


Losing good people costs a company money but, by the same token, finding the right people can be the key to unlocking growth. A good HR director should help to ensure that it’s not just the technical skills and expertise that a business looks for with a new recruit but also their character. HR directors need to know the makeup of the staff in each department and how to identify the right personalities that fit into those at the same time as bringing people of different outlooks and backgrounds together for the broadest possible talent set.

Team spirit

A good, hard-working ethic can be fostered through team spirit and the HR director can play a key role in this. They will look at ways to bring together otherwise disparate departments – be it through social engagements or better working practices – to ensure everyone is working together effectively towards the same goals. They’ll also liaise with line managers to ensure each team has a healthy working relationship.


It’s surprising how few firms are actually good at internal communications. The HR director should take a lead to ensure all employees know as much as possible about what the company does and where it is looking to grow and improve. That’s particularly important during any period of change. If people know how and why changes are being implemented they will be put at ease.


Successful HR directors don’t rest on their laurels and fall back on a ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ approach. The secret to getting this right is to root out the practices that persist in every company that no-one likes. A surprising number of processes are carried out on the presumption that it’s ‘the only way’. The HR director who can pinpoint these problems and find new, alternative ways of operating will be worth their weight in gold, boosting productivity and happiness in one fell swoop.

As we’ve seen, the HR director will be a good listener, problem solver, talent spotter, communicator and reformer and, ideally, all of the above at once. It’s what makes the post tricky to fill – but also very effective when done successfully.