It is essential to know not just management but all the employees as each job is important in order for a business to succeed. Of course if there are thousands of employees it is impossible to always remember everyone’s name. Just saying “hello” to someone in the hall by name makes a huge difference or remembering their birthdays or a major family events show that you really do care.
So why do you have to know the business inside out? You need to know how each department impacts another and what is essentially done in each department. If you need to write job descriptions how can you without this knowledge? When you hire a new customer service representative or electrical engineer you need to know they will fit in with the rest of the group. When you meet with the Vice President of a Division you don’t want to be lost in the conversation.
Two major keys to being a great human resources manager, assistant, generalist, etc., is listening to what an employee is saying and if asked keeping it confidential. You should treat each employee as if they are the only one that matters when you are speaking with them. Listen and do not interrupt until it is your turn to talk. What they have to say is important. If they ask you to keep the conversation confidential and it is not something that will endanger others … you are bound to do so. If you repeat it outside the human resources office and they find out you have lost all credibility and so has the company.
The good news is if you are in human resources you have a whole world of interesting, diverse and rewarding work ahead of you. Take advantage of it and soar as far as you can go!