HR, bad relationships, and hockey – 3 things that get blamed for many things

Although I haven’t run out of inspiration on post topics, I thought it might be interesting to poll some of my friends, family and former colleagues on the subject of HR.

I realize that I might be too close to the topic and wanted to get an outside perspective.

Specifically, I asked the the following:

If you could ask your HR person or dept anything – what would it be?
By this I mean, what do they do that makes you scratch your head in confusion not why do they wear cardigans and like cats so much.

I didn’t expect a flurry of answers; however, there were a few that responded (and I knew they would) and I also knew they might make me regret having asked the question.

Truth be told – nothing was a surprise, but it was interesting to see how many things I immediately went pfffff…well, that’s ridiculous…why do they think that is HR’s responsibility.

The way I see it, bad HR experiences are not unlike bad relationship experiences – not only do they sting at the time they occur, but they leave a residual impression that can taint all further experiences.

For argument sake, let’s say you had a bad relationship with a guy who lives for hockey. It’s realistic to think that you might be hesitant about going down that road again if you were to meet a really great person, only to discover they are a big hockey fan. You might even avoid potential relationships based solely on this particular interest. You might even make unfair assumptions about people who like hockey.

Of course, this isn’t fair (unless, of course, they are a Leafs fan, then it’s totally fair…hehe).

So, it’s safe to assume that if you are “burnt” by your HR person, whether it’s because they screwed up your pay or didn’t maintain the level of confidentiality that you had expected, that you are going expect all future interactions with HR people to yield similar results. Your expectations that your concerns will be taken seriously and your issues dealt with to your satisfaction will be low. So, now what?

Well, what might really be missing is not HR’s ability to do their job, but clear communication of what exactly HR’s job entails and what your responsibility as an employee should be.

Oh yes, there are sucky HR people out there, but there are also decent HR people who are caught in and limited by their organization, or not supported by the senior management, or lacking the resources to do what they really need and want to do.

Bad HR rarely happens in isolation. Usually it’s planted, fertilized, and tended by a community of gardeners.

I would like to refer you to this brilliant manifesto put together by Laurie Ruettiman over at The Cynical Girl: The Employee & HR Handbook. What is important to take away from this is that both the employee and HR are responsible…everyone plays a part. Neither are above reproach nor should they be expected to be perfect.

I am not trying to diminish anyone’s bad experiences with HR – particularly when it showed a clear lack of good judgement on the part of the HR person involved or it occurred repeatedly, but like the situation with a bad relationship, ask yourself…it is really HR that’s the issue or is it that they are just the usual suspect.

The answers I got from my friends were very helpful – not so much in pointing out what might be wrong with HR, but in reminding me why I decided to tackle it.


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