I've come to consider that organizations have 2 types of HR departments: Those that are focused on making the rules (I call them "No Team") and those that are focused on streamlining processes (I call them "Go Team"). These teams really aren't binary, it is more of a continuum on which each department sits.
To be a great manager, you have to know where your HR team falls on the continuum. Where they are determines a lot of what you do. By far, great managers want to have a Go Team.
A Go Team focuses on ensuring that your team is accomplishing its goals and that the employees are engaged. They focus on creating a department that gives the employees the benefits they want and working closely with you to help you achieve your two goals. They see themselves as a support system for you. If your HR team has decided that the employee policy manual is 10 pages and that is too long - you probably have a Go Team.
A No Team focuses on making rules and policies for every little thing. These teams have employee manuals that are a hundred pages thick and still don't cover enough. They are the department that when you ask to do something, the start of the conversation is always "I don't know". The reason for that is that you are not their customer. They think keeping they lawyers happy is more important than results or engaged employees.
As I've said often, everyone wants to do a good job, but how they define good is as important as anything. I've seen a lot of No Teams that could care less about your results (they don't say that), they only care about doing something the lawyer says they should do to avoid a lawsuit.
Great managers welcome and work collaboratively with the Go Team. They get things done and realize the Go Team has a lot to offer.
Great managers avoid No Teams and do their best to not involve them in anything (because they will be a bottleneck). It can be risky at times, but your team will have a much better chance of getting results if you do.