The Difference Between an HR Manager and HR Director

HR Insights for Professionals

HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Transitioning from an HR Manager to a Director can be challenging as the lines between the two roles can sometimes be blurred. Find out which role your skills are more suited to.


The typical responsibilities of an HR Manager and HR Director are very different, with each role having divergent priorities for the wider company. Identifying the key areas that separate these two jobs can help to improve collaboration in teams and improve progression opportunities for HR staff.

HR Manager

Professionals in this role are usually responsible for managing the time and schedules of entry-level HR staff. It's fairly common for HR Managers to have a hands-on relationship with their employees and will usually conduct their appraisals/progression meetings. The contact they have with entry-level staff members helps Managers stay in touch with the wider company culture. This is key as their main priorities often revolve around recruitment and how the company can attract and retain talent within their industry.

Here are some of the key responsibilities of HR Managers:

  • Creating new recruitment strategies to attract and hire professionals
  • Developing methods to retain talent in the company
  • Identifying staff conflicts and suggesting potential solutions
  • Ensuring the procedures are carried out and comply with employment law and regulations
  • Reviewing and monitoring staff benefits including compensation packages
  • Tracking the HR budget and ensuring it stays on target

HR Director

The main distinction between HR Directors and Managers is that the former are less involved with day-to-day operations. Instead, HR Directors are focused on the bigger picture and whether the department and organization is meeting the required standards. This can be in-line with legal restrictions, business goals, or employee retention.

Here are some of the key responsibilities of HR Directors:

  • Ensuring policies comply with any laws that affect the company
  • Overseeing hiring, training and retention practices
  • Overseeing employee benefits schemes and implementing changes if necessary
  • Reporting on the progress of the HR department to stakeholders and other Directors
  • Developing a culture that fits the business model for growth
  • Ensuring any employee complaints are addressed within the law

Depending on the size of your organization, you may find that the two roles are interchangeable or that they are two very distinct jobs. This can make career progression confusing for HR professionals. However, if you are finding yourself doing the responsibilities of a HR Director, you should make sure your salary is in line with someone in that position.

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