Being curious about what constitutes human nature and how to nurture it definitely helps in becoming a successful HR Manager. Human beings are weird; they can be emotional, pragmatic, dogmatic, rational, irrational and mostly unpredictable. In spite of this, the key to the success of a good HR Manager lies in getting the best out of the workforce, with a deep understanding and loads of patience. Unfortunately, humans do not come with an instruction manual listing their technical specifications.
In The Descent of Man, while explaining the history of the evolution of humans, Charles Darwin explains every aspect of Homo sapiens. Human beings are motivated by 4 main drives; the drive to acquire (the need to obtain things that ensure continuity and reproductive success), the drive to defend (to ensure that which is acquired is not lost), the drive to comprehend (understand the complex world around us) and the drive to bond (to be able to connect, relate and build relationships with other fellow human beings).
Our behavior stems from trying to maintain a balance between these four drives. Understanding human motivation has a very high impact in the field of management. Studies indicate that employee satisfaction is at its peak when all four drives are at its peak.
Lowe’s Home Depot embarked on a campaign that highlighted individual store performances (drive to acquire) over the relationship between employees (the drive to bond) and saw no growth in the company’s results at all. When they changed their strategies to adopt a holistic approach in fulfilling employees’ emotional needs through their reward and recognition programs, culture, style of management and the design of jobs, the firm gained ground. Adapting a Darwinian analysis, the productivity and motivation levels of a firm can be increased at every level.
Some of the challenges that are faced by a modern day HR Manager are to strike a balance between a poor fit of nature with the economic demands of the present day market. Today’s environment is very different from the one that human nature evolved from and the difference is about four million years!
But there are other qualities as well that are required for the job of being a good HR Manager. It is not enough just to understand the nature of your employees and what drives them. According to a Harrison Assessments Suitability Report, the following are traits in order of importance.
- Taking Initiative
- Being organized
- Understanding the psychology of the team
- Being analytical
- Being collaborative
- Being diplomatic
- Being optimistic
- Wanting to face challenges
- High tolerance to pressure
- Looks for ways to self-improve
- Being authoritative
- Being an influencer
A combination of the above qualities and an understanding of human nature would work well for building the cornerstone of a good HR Manager. Management would definitely be enriched if it is built on the perception of human nature. Being simple to tackle complexity – the irony of it is that simplifying human nature gives understanding to the complexities of workplace situations. Those HR Professionals who understand human nature and possess emotional intelligence will have a high success rate.