In many organizations the role of HR is to keep the company out of court. The role of HR is to keep the company from getting sued — by its own employees! Can you imagine a sadder or less inspiring reason to come to work? Does your CFO stand up at the executives’ meeting and say, “It was a good month — none of our customers or vendors sued us!” Of course not.
It’s a given that your customers and vendors won’t sue you unless a truly terrible and unlikely set of events take place. You’ll have plenty of warning if that event sequence begins. It works exactly the same way in HR, but fearful leaders and fearful HR people see imaginary ready-to-sue-them employees around every corner!
I never spent two seconds during my eons in HR worrying about getting sued by my fellow employees. We were having too much fun to think about suing one another. If somebody was unhappy, a manager or another employee or an HR person would hear about it. Then we could figure it out and get past it.
Waves of good and bad energy circulate in every organization. All we have to do is pay attention to them. It easy to do that — we almost can’t help it! We are humans. Humans are animals. We know when the energy around is positive and when it’s negative. We need to start telling the truth about that.
If you are an employee and you’ve had bad experiences with HR in your company, you can take a step, too. You don’t have to wait for the next “confidential” employee survey to throw shade on HR. You can bring yourself to work too, and interact with HR people when you don’t have a problem. You can honor the human side of everyone you work with.
We all have the tendency to divide up the world into two groups: Us and Them. It’s easy to make HR people the enemy. You can take the opposite view and assume that the HR folks in your shop are doing their best. Remember that hostility and fear are two sides of the same coin.
10 Reasons Employees Hate HR :
1. HR people seem to take the company’s side in any interaction, never the employee’s side.
2. HR people seem to want to get employees in trouble for tiny infractions.
3. HR people are not viewed as trustworthy, even though they say, “Tell me what’s on your mind!”
4. HR people stand idly by while incompetent and abusive supervisors get promoted and mistreat employees.
5. HR people often “know HR” but don’t know anything about the business they work for.
6. HR people often spout policy instead of actively getting involved to remove roadblocks their employees face.
7. HR people are seen as political and more concerned with their own place in the company’s pecking order than with the welfare of the team.
8. HR people talk more about policies, benefits and other announcements than they talk about culture, fear, trust, conflict or any of the million human issues that arise in every organization.
9. HR people often have trouble seeing the “human side” of any issue, from a time-off request to a variation in a pay-grade or a hiring issue, focusing instead on keeping every process uniform and exception-free.
10. HR people, who can be Ministers of Culture in their organizations, are too often seen as culture-killers instead!
What can a leader do if his or her organization’s HR function is not living up to its potential? The first step is to look in the mirror! Too many executives lead HR, if they lead it at all, through fear rather than trust. They focus on keeping payroll costs down and keeping “employee issues” to a minimum, instead of setting ambitious goals and then hiring brilliant people to help achieve them — and letting those brilliant people do their jobs!
The world is changing too fast for stuck-in-the-mud organizations to survive. HR has a big job to do, but it won’t happen until HR people and their colleagues come together to acknowledge and celebrate the critical cultural role that empowered and switched-on HR people fill!