HR Manager as a General Manager in a Private Company

Should an HR manager be a general manager in a private company?


To help business owners decide whether or not to promote an HR manager to a general manager, we asked experienced CEOs and private business owners this question for their best insights. From keeping HR separate and neutral to using crucial HR experience as an asset, there are several opinions that may help you determine whether or not your HR manager would be a good general manager.

Here are 7 insights towards HR managers as general managers: 

  • HR Should Be Separate and Neutral
  • Hard to Be a Counselor and a Performance Coach
  • HR Managers Understand Both Business and People
  • General Management Would Break the Focus of HR
  • Conflict of Interest
  • HR Should be an Arbitrator, Not a Boss
  • Crucial HR Experience is Always an Asset


HR Manager as a General Manager in a Private Company


HR Should Be Separate and Neutral

A human resource manager may be needed to mediate misunderstandings between management and employees. As a CEO, I know firsthand that delegation sometimes means conceding power to other employees beneath you–and you have to be okay with that. An HR manager carries the vital responsibility of being a neutral party in disputes, and they need to be free to tell management when they are in the wrong. Keeping those roles separate is the only way to let an HR manager be fully neutral.

Dan Bladen, Kadence


Hard to Be a Counselor and a Performance Coach

As much as possible, HR managers and general managers should be separate entities. HR managers are privy to sensitive information, and a certain level of detachment is necessary. If the head of HR is the same person evaluating employee performance, then staff may not feel comfortable confiding their personal problems out of the fear these confessions will reflect in reviews. 

Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding


HR Managers Understand Both Business and People

An HR manager that has been properly trained in business, or has a background in business, can be a great general manager. They can offer the kind of expertise and people skills that are integral to any effective manager. Many times, candidates at this position have many years of business experience, but have a harder time managing a team or having the interpersonal skills necessary to be an effective manager. HR professionals are a great option to consider due to their wide ranging managerial skill sets.

Brandon Brown, Grin


General Management Would Break the Focus of HR

No, an HR manager should not be a general manager in a private company. An HR manager’s role is to oversee all personnel-related issues in a company, including hiring, firing, benefits, and training. A general manager’s role is to oversee all business operations in a company.

Matthew Ramirez, Rephrasely


Conflict of Interest

An HR manager who is also a general manager is a potential conflict of interest. HR managers are generally at their best when they can work as a neutral intermediary between conflicted parties, instead of being the one making the decisions and having to enforce them. Employees are more intimidated when going to an HR manager, when that manager decides whether or not they can lose their job.

Michael Williamson, Hoist


HR Should Be An Arbitrator, Not a Boss

Human resources has a specific lane within a company. It serves as an arbitrator in the event that an employee has a complaint with another employee – and oftentimes the latter is a supervisor. That poses a significant conflict of interest if the human resources manager also serves as a general manager in charge of everyone in the workforce. An arbitrator needs to be independent, offering a fair-and-balanced approach to complaints/allegations in the workplace. That ability is taken away from them if they have a dual role as a higher-level manager. There should be no tilt, one way or another, if there is a sexual harassment complaint, abuse allegation or anything else in that vein. It would be the same as a police agency employing someone to be an internal affairs investigator while supervising a criminal case unit. Companies need to guard against obvious conflicts of interest.

Alan Ahdoot, Adamson Ahdoot Law


Crucial HR Experience is Always an Asset

If they have used their years in an organization well, efficient and dedicated HR managers can undoubtedly take on the role of a general manager. After all, one of the essentials on the list of a GM is the ability to oversee HRM. However, although HR is the most critical organizational element, the role of a GM also includes other additional responsibilities such as finance, marketing, and operational efficiency. As long as an HR manager committedly works towards learning and taking on these duties, they can well be on their way to becoming dependable and successful GMs too.

Eva Taylor, WP Buffs


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