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My job explained: Human resources manager

human resourcesDeborah Jeffries talks about her job as a Human resources manager and why she enjoys "really making a difference to the environment that people work in".

What attracted you to this type of work?

I was interested in the business world and in understanding how people work - the psychology of people in organisations. I wanted to improve the work environment so that employees could do the best possible job.

How long did it take to train and what did the training involve?

I did a Business Management degree but specialised in psychology and personnel management. This took four years. There are other ways of training - you can do a diploma through the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which takes one year if you do it full-time and two years part-time.

Can you describe a typical working day?

I like to get in at 8.30 to prepare for the day and have my cup of coffee! I will usually have meetings with either one of my team (I manage a team of five people) or the whole team to talk through what they are working on at the moment or to share ideas and plans for what we are going to do next. As a team we make sure that everyone is paid properly and that they get all the correct benefits (like pensions etc).

We help managers to recruit their people and we help to introduce them into the organisation so they work well right from the start. We will sometimes also help
managers to train their people properly. If people are not working well and not delivering what they are supposed to then we will help the manager to challenge that employee to improve. If they don't improve then we make sure the manager does all the right things if they need to dismiss the employee. I need to decide each day what I must prioritise so that I can go home at the end of the day feeling satisfied with what I’ve achieved.

What's the best thing about your job?

Really making a difference to the environment that people work in - we spend about 40% of our waking hours at work and I can make an impact on how happy people are during their time at work.

Have there been any challenges in getting to where you are now?

I was the first person in my family to go to university and there were so many options for me to choose from that I had to do lots of reading and talking to people to make sure I made sensible decisions about what I wanted to do. I had to work hard to finish my qualification as I was working part-time to fund my studies so I had tried to be very organised and think ahead so I could get my assignments in on time.

When I started working in England (after leaving South Africa), I had to adjust to a new culture. I got to know as much as I could about what was expected of me and learnt by watching others and asking questions.

What skills do you think are important for your role?

You need to be good at communicating. Being able to listen and understand what people are saying is vital as well as getting across your own ideas or points to others in a way that makes sense to them.

You also need lots of energy and the motivation to keep going when things get difficult and to keep my team and my colleagues positive and believing that things can be better.

What advice would you give to someone following in your footsteps?

Keep looking ahead - once you have got to grips with your studies or job and start to feel that you are doing it well, think about what you want to do next and make the most of every opportunity to learn new things.

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