The role of a HR manager


To find out what the working life of a HR Manager is really like we interviewed Petra Reed, HR Manager at a well known local bank.

Hear what skills, experience and qualifications she thinks you need to be successful in this challenging role.

The banking industry in South Africa is highly competitive. To enable the bank to have that competitive advantage and be the most successful in the marketplace, we need to hire the best people.

The HR team at the bank is instrumental to the success of the company - it's us that hires, motivates, and develops the people that offer the bank's services. Reporting into the HR Director, I lead the team and manage the staff issues across the whole company.

This includes things like:

  • Assisting with advising the company on best practice HR
  • Supporting the business with disciplinary and grievance procedures, performance management, sickness, absences, redundancies, salary reviews, benefits packages, maternity and paternity leave and associated pay
  • Managing the recruitment and resources strategy and work with my team to hire the best candidates in the marketplace. This involves supervising job descriptions and advertisement text, managing our relationships with recruitment consultancies, organising and running interviews and issuing written offers of employment to successful candidates
  • Providing training on professional development within our organisation and help managers by coaching and advising them on people management issues
  • Responsible for producing employment contracts, staff handbooks and staff memos
  • Working with other divisions such as Legal and Compliance to help set company rules - and in some cases communicating those rules to staff
  • Ensuring employees are treated fairly, that they know what their rights are, and that there are measures in place when something goes wrong
  • Helping to develop ‘people strategies’ to meet the goals of different parts of the business

No day is the same and that's why being an HR manager is so challenging and rewarding.

The key skills to be a success in my role are:

  • Exceptional organisation and administration skills
  • Ability to multitask
  • Knowledge of employment law
  • Ability to deal with “grey areas” and solid negotiation skills
  • Be discrete and ethical
  • Ability to deal and resolve difficult situations
  • Excellent personal and communication skills
  • Business awareness and business partnering skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Conflict management and problem solving skills

Finding exceptional HR talent to work in the banking industry. It's so competitive and although we have a great deal to offer as an employer, it's still a tough market.

I chose a career in HR because I am a people's person and I like to see that processes and procedures are put in place to help people achieve their goals fairly. HR as a profession also has a structured career ladder to climb and I have been fortunate enough to work my way up to an HR Manager fairly quickly.

Probably the learning and development side. I also like hiring good people and seeing them progress though the ranks.

In order to climb up the career ladder more quickly, I'd advise a junior HR professional to decide from a very early point whether they would like to be an HR generalist or HR specialist. Also never stop learning - complete relevant qualifications and try and differentiate yourself in the market.

Join professional bodies and attend events as well as networking evenings to grow your own HR community. And don't forget the power of social media.

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For more career advice please contact:

Nic Sephton-Poultney, Country Manager (South Africa)
+27 (0) 11 881 2414



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