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What HR Managers Should Know About Behavioral Competencies

Behavioral competencies are vital to a successful human resources career. But what exactly do these competences entail?

The field of human resource management is becoming more strategic. From attracting talent to determining compensation and implementing workplace policies, HR professionals at all types of organizations are relied upon to meet various needs. And now more than ever, the actions taken by HR managers need to be optimized for success. But how does one define success in a role that’s often responsible for hiring, administration, and training of personnel? That’s where competencies come in to play.

Competencies can be either technical or behavioral. For those in the human resources field, they help provide a clearly defined, observable framework for what a successful HR professional looks like.1 While technical competencies tend to center on the things you can do, behavioral competencies focus on how you do them. And though both are core to the structure of human resource management roles and vital to moving the profession forward, some HR professionals are unsure exactly what behavioral competencies consist of.

What HR Managers Should Know About Behavioral Competencies

So, what should you understand about these specific competencies and their importance to the field and your HR career? Below, we break down some things HR managers should know about behavioral competencies.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) developed a competency model to identify what it takes to be a successful HR professional.

The SHRM Competency Model is made up of both technical and behavioral competencies. Each competency represents a cluster of interconnected attributes—including knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors—needed to perform a job effectively.2 The cluster that falls under the umbrella of behavioral competencies includes communication, global and cultural effectiveness, and relationship management. This cluster represents interpersonal proficiency and is key to the role of an HR manager.3 Since the job is characterized by interdependence on stakeholders, the ability to communicate effectively, consider the perspectives of others, and manage interactions is necessary for a successful human resources career.

Demonstrating behavioral competencies can set you apart in the workplace.

Behavioral competencies are made up of soft skills, which are the personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Skills like active listening, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness are seemingly intangible—yet they’re in demand. And with the employment of HR managers projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028,4 organizations will be looking for candidates who not only demonstrate expertise in the practices and principles of human resource management, but who are also equipped with the interpersonal skills and personality traits that can positively impact the business.

Behavioral competencies are valuable throughout your career.

The skills you develop to further your proficiency and mastery of behavioral competencies can be applied throughout your HR career. Whether you’re just starting as a human resource management professional or are serving in an HR manager role, the behavioral competencies you acquire will serve you well—and in turn, those around you—as you perform day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. Behavioral competencies are meant to continue to enhance your HR career and the relationships you forge along the way, no matter what path you take. They are even transferrable to other industries or sectors you may serve in a human resource management capacity.3

Advance Your Career by Earning Your Human Resource Degree at Walden University

If you’re looking to further your career and position yourself to become a more successful HR manager, consider earning your master’s in human resource management. Walden offers an online MS in Human Resource Management program that allows you to continue working full time as you gain the in-demand skills and credentials you need to further your HR career. Online education makes it possible to earn your HR degree and take classes at whatever time of day works best for you—no need to completely rearrange your schedule or commute to campus.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Human Resource Management degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,