Role of the human resources director

Human resources

Memory NGuwi


The job description of the HR director is one of the most critical roles in any organization. It is a role whose impact can be felt across all levels of the organization. The Director of Human Resources job description may vary from company to company. However, the primary objectives of the position will likely be to oversee all aspects of human resources management at a strategic level. Middle-level managers in the same department often handle operational issues. The fact that the role is called Human Resources Director means that this role is operating at an executive level of the organization.

The role deals with strategic human resources and very few operational issues. Incumbents decide on the direction the business should take with regard to how its human resources should be managed. They decide on what to focus on and what not to focus on. They are a strategic adviser to the CEO and the board. They advise the board on what HR interventions should be implemented. They decide on what HR policies should be implemented and why.

They align human resources practices such that they support business operations. In the job description for HR director, the focus is on directional issues than operational issues. For this reason, the HR director feeds directly into business decisions. For example, when a business intends to enter a new market, the HR director will be responsible for HR due diligence and its implications on business strategy. This same approach applies when a business is involved in a merger or acquisition.

No strategic meeting would ordinarily pass without the input of the HR director. The HR director's job description should reflect the strategic importance of the role. People at this level need to be astute business leaders, and their technical HR knowledge comes second. It will be almost impossible for anyone to be of any value at this level if they have not mastered how businesses are run and make money.

The director of HR job description should spell out what this role does and what kind of person is required for such a role. The director HR role focuses on HR for business and not HR for HR. The success of anyone in this role largely depends on how the person can impact business outcomes instead of focusing on HR outcomes.

Overall purpose of the job

This role exists to develop human executive resources strategies and interventions that drive business performance. The role must be able to support the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in driving business performance. Its impact must be seen in the same mould, if not higher, than that of the finance director, marketing director, and other high-impact roles within the business.

The director will manage a team of human resources professionals and ensure that the team provides high-quality service to the whole business.

Primary duties

The primary duties in the job description of HR director must remain at a very strategic level so that they do not encroach on operational matters often handled by HR Managers or HR business partner roles.

Below are the primary duties that must go into the director HR job description.

  • Develops and aligns human resources strategies to support the business.
  • Plans, designs, and develops high-impact human resources interventions and practices supporting the business.
  •  Provides leadership in developing strategies for strategic workforce plans, performance management, talent development, remuneration, and industrial relations.
  •  Acts as a champion in driving cutting-edge interventions to drive productivity and profitability of the business.
  • Advocates for the growth of leadership capabilities across the whole organisation.
  • Leads in designing and executing human resources policies across the business value chain.
  • Champions the development of a credible employer brand for the business that can aid in attracting and retaining talent.
  • When giving counsel to the board, executive team, and CEO, uses evidence-based methodologies.
  • Provides a strategic framework to assist leaders in understanding company policies and labour legislation.
  • Takes the lead in designing recruitment policies and procedures to ensure the company has access to top talent.
  • Takes the lead in creating and implementing a performance management framework that boosts the company's overall performance.
  • Champions the development of a performance-based reward management system based on value sharing for the company and its employees.
  • Develops remuneration strategies guaranteeing the company's ability to attract and retain top talent.
  • Assesses the sustainability and viability of all remuneration-related interventions, specifically ensuring the is value for money in all remuneration interventions.
  • Crafts strategies to ensure employee wellness is a top agenda for every executive within the business.
  • Takes the lead in designing a framework for employee relations that ensures there will be industrial harmony across the company.
  • Enables a workforce planning model that guarantees the company always has the most qualified employees available to meet its needs.
  • Leads in the development of a succession plan for the business covering all key and strategic roles.
  • Leads in developing organisational structures aligned to  the company's strategy.
  • Champion the development of digital skills to support the business strategy.
  • Leads in technological innovation across the HR value chain.
  • Leads in the development of valuable trending workplace innovation.
  • Leads in the development of evidence-based HR practices across the business.

Researches HR issues and links findings to business outcomes.

Assesses the impact of human resources interventions on business outcomes.


At this level, the job description of the HR Director must list the level of education required to be successful. Traditionally, the qualification to occupy such a role has been a degree in any social sciences. I have seen this change with companies taking people with other degrees that are not in the social sciences.

We are seeing more and more people with natural science degrees occupying such senior roles. I have noticed even some people with engineering-related degrees being elevated to the roles of HR Director. There could be a reason why companies are shifting their preferences towards non-social science candidates.

The educational requirements for an HR director depend on the size and nature of the organisation. A bachelor's degree in human resources, business administration, or a related field may be sufficient for a small company. In large and complex organisations, an HR director may need a master's degree in human resources or labour law as they will be responsible for handling complex strategic issues. Such issues may include handling complex labour matters. The issues can be even more challenging if the company operates in multiple jurisdictions.

Due to the nature of their work, human resources directors must have a broad knowledge of how businesses operate and make money. They must be able to think critically and solve problems quickly. They must be well-versed in employment law and company policy, as well as the ability to develop and implement HR interventions to support the business.

Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Other Characteristics(KSAO)

In the HR Director job description, you need to cover the required Knowledge, Skill, Abilities and Other characteristics required for someone to succeed in the role.


The Director Human Resources role gives strategic advice to the Board, CEO and the senior executives within the business. This role focuses on directional issues regarding how human resources practices are shaped within the business. What is important to remember is that as you prepare the job description of the HR Director, focus on the strategic issues only.

The duties listed here for the HR director job will likely vary by the size and nature of the organisation. I have captured the core functions of the HR Director in this sample job description. Feel free to customise and use this sample to prepare a job description for the HR Director of your organisation.

Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker and managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. Phone +263 24 248 1 946-48/ 2290 0276, cell number +263 772 356 361 or e-mail: [email protected] or visit

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