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The difference between HR Generalist and HR Manager

by Mosaniy Editorial
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Human resources departments assist businesses in finding top talent and support employees in resolving disputes, acquiring new skills, and receiving regular compensation. Specialists in payroll or benefits may have varying duties depending on their position within the department. The terms “manager” or “generalist” may appear in an HR professional’s title if they handle a number of tasks, and you might find it useful to understand the distinctions between these two professions.

What is a HR generalist?

A specialist who oversees the daily requirements of the HR department is known as an HR generalist. HR generalists frequently help a company’s workforce in addition to carrying out all the tasks required by the department. The main duties of a HR generalist are to:

  • Writing job descriptions for newly created roles
  • Conducting background checks
  • Designing and leading training and orientation sessions for new hires
  • Conducting performance reviews
  • Administering HR programs like benefits, compensation, bonus programs, and holiday schedules
  • Assessing and resolving staff complaints and conflicts
  • Participating in staff meeting

What is a HR manager?

HR managers are in charge of the HR divisions. They frequently oversee a team of trainers, payroll coordinators, benefits specialists, and HR generalists to make sure they carry out all essential duties for the department. Some of their typical duties include: supervising the hiring process through recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding; completing performance reviews for HR staff; working with company leadership to help departments attract and retain talent; assisting HR generalists and other HR staff with difficult problems like investigations; researching and analyzing market trends for compensation, salary, and benefit packages; and developing new learning opportunities.

HR managers versus HR generalists

HR managers and generalists may share responsibilities, depending on the size of the organization or department. The first HR professional a firm hires is frequently a generalist, but as the business develops and needs more people, the HR team may grow. The business may then appoint an HR manager.

Here is a comparison between the positions of HR manager and HR generalist:


Some work may be shared by managers and HR generalists, although managers oversee the department as a whole rather than carrying out specific tasks. An HR generalist may organize and conduct candidate interviews, but an HR manager may plan the hiring and interviewing process for their organization. Similar to this, an organization’s HR manager may design plans for their division, such as making sure turnover is under 5%, and a generalist may monitor the data to make sure the division achieves its objectives.


HR generalists are often expected to handle employee files and databases, maintain and analyze data, and communicate any difficulties or requests that employees may have. Even while HR managers frequently have a broad concept of the team’s responsibilities and knowledge, they may ask the HR generalist to supply specifics so they can share them with other teams.

While HR generalists frequently deal with all levels of staff, high-level personnel like management and executives may expect HR managers to conduct training events and communicate business regulations with them. Employees in many businesses might anticipate addressing inquiries or problems with generalists.


The HR manager position is a mid-level position in some organizations, while the HR generalist function may be entry-level. Companies may need prior human resources experience for each position. Companies might, however, demand that HR managers have three to five more years of prior HR experience than generalists. Additionally, HR directors frequently demand that managers have prior managerial experience. Both positions normally ask for at least a bachelor’s degree in human resources, communications, or a similar profession, in addition to experience.


Although managers and HR generalists share many skills, including interpersonal abilities, empathy, communication, and active listening, each position may call for some particular abilities. Most HR managers have the following skills:

  • Leadership: HR managers frequently oversee teams of HR specialists, so it’s critical that they can inspire them, assign responsibilities, and set priorities.
  • Budgeting: Human resource managers oversee departmental spending plans and possible investments. Choosing a budget for new technology or more resources will be necessary.
  • Making decisions: HR managers consult with the executive teams of the organization to decide on staffing and other requirements. They frequently choose the approach that will support their team members and other employees the best.

HR generalists, in contrast, might possess these competencies:

  • Interviewing: HR generalists interview candidates more frequently than HR managers do, especially when hiring new staff. A crucial work obligation is being able to record responses to inquiries and ask questions.
  • Reporting: Administrative abilities are required because HR generalists frequently handle reports and employee files. To assist the HR manager in making strategic decisions, HR generalists occasionally produce reports on the budget, hiring trends, and staff turnover for the department.
  • Recruitment: HR generalists frequently actively seek out new talent for their organizations. To identify qualified applicants, they might go on job boards, social networking sites for professionals, or other databases.


In a human resources department, the hierarchy frequently looks like this:

  1. HR assistant
  2. HR generalist
  3. HR manager
  4. HR director

A corporation might just have generalists, or it might not have assistants or directors, depending on the size of the department. Generalists can get assistance from HR assistants with administrative duties like paying employees or keeping track of personnel paperwork. An HR director may be in charge of many HR teams in larger firms.

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