Definitions and differences


Definitions and differences

HRM and HRD: what a difference a letter makes! But what is the difference between these two often confused roles, departments or functions?

The heart of аny successful organization is its people, still often referred to as its human resource. If its people are the heart, then it could be argued that the organisation’s backbone is its HR team, led by HR managers. In this article, we discuss the key differences in the managerial roles and responsibilities of HR managers and HR developers.

Definition of HRM

While its hard to find a single, agreed-upon definition of human resource management (HRM), it broadly relates to the practice of managing employees in pursuit of organizational success. HRM is concerned with all aspects of how people are employed and managed by their organizations. Its main goal is to find the right employees and manage and develop the human element in an organization.

It follows then that HRM is both wide-ranging and diverse, in that it encompasses several specialist disciplines. It seeks to improve the efficiency of people and administration within an organisation in relation to:

  • Recruitment and retention
  • Selection
  • Onboarding/Offboarding
  • Promotion
  • Salary administration
  • Economic rewards
  • Compensation
  • Job analysis
  • Workforce planning
  • Legal compliance
  • Discipline
  • Employee relations
  • Maintaining health and safety policies
  • Employee well-being

Even though it may seem that the primary function of HR is administrative work, it also has (an increasingly important) role in fostering company culture and developing its people. HRD is thus a subset of HRM which aims to manage talent within the organisation.

Definition of HRD

HRM and HRDHRD stands for human resource development, and its primary strategy is to develop employees’ capabilities in a way that benefits the entire organization and its culture. HRD professionals and teams are responsible for continuously honing employees’ skills and providing career development opportunities.

HRD’s emphasis is on training and upgrading the workforce’s skills to improve job performance while simultaneously harnessing employees’ potential and helping their motivation. Typical functions of HRD include:

  • Continual employee education and knowledge
  • Key employee identification
  • Upgrading skills
  • Training & development
  • Certifications and diplomas
  • Software education
  • Workshops and courses
  • Executive development
  • Organizational development
  • Coaching, mentorship, assistance
Is Learning & Development Part of HR?

The HRD team often handles learning and development functions, which is why it is considered a subset of human resource management. The primary goal of HRD is to manage talent, and by that definition, it also encompasses the need to identify any missing gaps in skills or knowledge.

These gaps are usually identified by conducting one-on-one interviews with employees, performance evaluation and appraisals, or the setting of SMART goals and objectives. A development professional aims to fulfill those gaps by developing competencies within its current workforce. Larger organizations may have separate HRD departments, while smaller organizations may include learning and development as a responsibility of HRM teams.

Key differences between HRM and HRD

Objectives, Function, and Scope

While HRM and HRD are both clearly related to an organisation’s people, they focus on different objectives. Human resource management has a broad scope of routine and administrative functions, which focus is on implementing the HR strategy and improving the efficiency of people.

Whereas human resource development has a narrower scope, aimed at providing opportunities for job enrichment, and personal and organisational development. Some argue that HRD is rather more proactive in nature, fostering both formal and informal staff development opportunities. These include courses and qualification, on-the-job training and shadowing, and mentorships or coaching.


The primary method HRM incentivizes and motivates people is through salary, economic rewards, and compensation. HRD may consider job challenges and creativity as primary motivators for employees. These different approaches to incentive are linked to an understanding of motivations, something we discuss in our article on intrinsic/extrinsic motivation.

Similarities between HRM and HRD

By now, the differences between HRM and HRD should be quite apparent. However, HRD falls under the umbrella of HRM, which means that there are overlapping qualities between the professionals who work in both of these fields.

Both HR managers and HR developers need to have excellent people skills, as their primary responsibility is the development and implementation of people strategies. Whether the task identifies strengths and weaknesses among employees, such as the role of HRD, or hiring the best match among many applicants, like in the case of HRM professionals, it requires someone with outstanding people management skills.

Problem-solving is another similarity these professionals share. HR managers often resolve conflicts, while development professionals must develop creative solutions for talent development exercises and training. They may also use software tools to automate and scale their job functions. For instance, applicant tracking systems for managing job posts and candidates, and learning management systems for ongoing training.


The complexities of the modern workplace definitely require professional HR managers and departments. However, there is much more to managing an organisation’s people than recruitment, administration, well-being and workforce planning. Given that an organisation’s greatest asset truly is its people, there is an equal need for HR development professionals. Enabling employee education, growth and development, in alignment with their personal aspirations and goals will undoubtedly result in improved work performance, to the ultimate benefit of both people and organization alike.

Author bio: Violeta Bojkovska is a passionate content writer and avid content consumer at Shortlister. She’s a short story author, guest post blogger, and a firm believer in the startup “zebra culture.” She loves to write about HR technology and startups.


Employee appraisal resources

Conducting a Performance Management ReviewFor more help on conducting employee appraisals turn to our fantastic e-guide bundle. Including a colossal 253 pages and 95 tools, it contains 8 key guides we recommend to help you manage better performance, at half price!

It’s All About Performance (24 pages, 4 diagnostic tools)
Managing Performance and Potential (26 pages, 4 tools)
Conducting a Performance Review (33 pages, 8 tools)
Manage Your Own Performance (28 pages, 6 tools)
Motivating Performance (37 pages, 10 tools)
Performance Management Skills (19 pages, 7 tools)
15 Performance Management Tips (20 pages, 15 tips)
Performance Management Toolkit (66 pages, 41 tools – divided into the seven steps of a performance management process).

I am designing a new Management Development programme for my company and your Goal Setting guide has really helped.

I like the way you introduced material I haven’t seen before (SHARP action) & the tools to apply the learning. The price represents really good value for money and I will be checking out more of your material over the coming months.

Matthew - UK

Looking for more performance resources?

Try our great value e-guides


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More

Got It